Rhodes Island, Greece.
851 00-09 Rhodes : area 1,401sq. km; perimeter 220km; resident population 115,334; max. altitude 1,216m. Port Authority: 22410 22220, 28888, 28666. Travel and information: www.travel-Rhodes .com
Rhodes Travel Guide
The short stretch of -panoramic road between Mount Atavyros and Mount Akramitis is the most dramatic on the island. Five hundred metres after passing the second turning for Embonas, as you come from Kritinia, the view which opens out over forests, sea and islands to the north is worth pausing for. At a hairpin bend shortly after, the road crosses a fissure in the rocks, carved by seasonal torrents descending from the mountain, whose sides are formed with tightly-packed horizontal striations to which trees cling improbably: in the vicinity are deposits of the purple-red stone used at points in the ancient structures of Ialysos and Lindos. After a further 4.5km, (1.5km before entering Siana) a track leads west (right) to Stelies (69km), and the empty, southern loop of Mount Akramytis. Although little explored, there is a large area here—designated with the ancient name ‘Kymisala’— with widely scattered remains of habitation from the Classical and Hellenistic periods. One kilometre down the track from the junction, on the right hand side, is an open area where the bases of stone walls of houses and other structures, constructed in large blocks, can be seen. There is considerable overlay of later use, however, and the ancient blocks have in several places been re-arranged in circles so as to create winnowing areas. Five hundred metres further on is a small church of the Zoodochos Pigi: this overlooks a spur on which there are more remains of ancient walls, and the base of a collapsed tower (centre) and perimeter wall can be seen. Of greatest interest are a number of blocks bearing eroded inscriptions in large letters, which are to be found to the southwest, roughly in the middle of the brow overlooking the deep, cultivated ‘basin’ below. The latter has the appearance of a small drained lake, and must have been an important element in the choice of ancient settlement here. Beyond this point, the track skirts the wooded north and west sides of Mount Akramytis and eventually loops back to Monolithos, affording beautiful views towards the island of Chalki along the route. The main asphalted road follows the southern slope of the mountain to the same point via Siana (71km), a straggling village of stone houses with an enviable south-facing position commanding views down to the tip of the island and beyond. The village is famous for its local products of aromatic honey and ‘souma’—a spirit similar to Italian grappa. The centre is dominated by the modern church of Aghios Panteleimonas: its 15th century predecessor, a low, barrel-vaulted, stone structure stands inconspicuously to its west—attractive from outside but bare inside. The villages of Siana and Monolithos (76km) lie in an area rich in archaeology—especially burials and funerary finds: in the latter, a mid 6th century bc cremation pyre containing over 40 vases was excavated in the 1940s near the school building. There is also continuity of habitation into mediaeval times: to the west of the village’s main church is the 15th century Aghios Thomas, which conserves paintings in patches in the upper areas of its walls. The fortress, or Castle of Monolithos (78km), from which the village takes its name, is 2km further to the southwest. It is in effect a fortified, precipitous rock—re ferred to as the ‘Monopetra’—with sheer sides dropping 200m to the valley below and with access from only one point by means of a precarious neck of land. The position commands the approaches to the island from the south. This was primarily a watch-tower and signalling post; its interior area is therefore compact and its cisterns sufficient only to supply a small garrison. Of the two chapels inside, one is in ruins, the other, Aghios Panteleimonas, recently restored. The (latest) phase of building here is once again the work of the energetic Pierre d’Aubusson. His master plan must have conceived of the whole island as one huge, single fortress, anchored like a ship in the sea, to be defended with a cage of impregnable castles around its shores.
Rhodes Island is part of the Dodecanese Island Group, Greece.