RHODES



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Rhodes - Central Rhodes and the three mountains - Kritinia and around mount Atavyros

The Castle of Kritini­a (53km), often just referred to as ‘Kastellos’, is the largest of the Knights’ fortresses along the island’s west coast. From its cliff-side position, high (130m) above emerald water, 1.5km southwest of the har bour of Skala Kameirou, it dominates the western passage and the channel of Chalki, and has fine views beyond to Tilos, Symi and Nisyros. The walls on the landward side are well-preserved with three imposing towers—one rectangular, one polygonal, and one circular. Both the joins of the masonry and the coats of arms here—Grand Masters Pierre d’Aubusson (main block) and Emery d’Amboise and Fabrizio del Carretto (eastern wing)—are evidence that the structure was raised in several successive campaigns of building between 1478 and 1521. Though its principal purpose must have been for look-out and signalling, the ruins of a large collapsed chapel (bearing the royal arms of France on one of the quoins) and three cisterns in the centre, suggest the presence of a fairly large permanent garrison. The village of Kritini­a (55km) itself is attractively sited in a panoramic hollow of the hills above, around a plane shaded plateia with a small fountain (commemorating Captain Federico Marozzo della Rocca, veteran of the 1916 Italian campaigns in Friuli). The folklore museum above the village by the main road has a wide variety of local kinds of earthenware and pottery, urns and storage pithoi. Beyond Kritini­a, the road climbs rapidly towards the flank of Mount Atavyros (1,216m), the island’s highest, bulkiest and—in Antiquity—most sacred, mountain. Above 800m altitude its long ridge is bare limestone; be low, it is densely wooded in pine and (to the north side) in oak and chestnut. The ascent to the -summit of Aghios Ioannis can be made either from the south in a relatively gradual, five to six hour (return) climb from the village of Aghios Isidoros, or else by road from the junction 5km south of the (southern exit of) Kritini­a, which climbs through the pine forests in the saddle between the two peaks of the mountain and approaches Aghios Ioannis from the south west. Either way the effort is amply rewarded if the weather is clear by the sight of one of the most dramatically placed sanctuaries in the Aegean. The whole island lies beneath; Crete is visible to the southwest and Asia Minor to the northeast. It is said that Althaemenes, son of Catreus, King of Crete, fled to Rhodes after a frightening oracular prediction and settled on the island, founding a temple to Zeus Atabyrios on the only point on the island from which his homeland could clearly be seen. He brought with him many settlers from Crete; the name of the village above the coast below— Kritini­a, or Cretenia in Antiquity—may derive from this. At Acragas (Agrigento) in Sicily, Zeus Atabyrios was worshipped together with Athena, whose cult may also have been present on the mountaintop here. A number of figurines of bulls have been found at this site, and ancient sources refer to the presence of large bronze bulls in the sanctuary which were wont to bellow and groan when some ill-fate was approaching. The extensive remains are clearly visible on the ridge. The large rectangular base (c. 15m x 11m) of a structure, surrounded by a peribolos of about 40m square, occupies the top of the ridge. Below to the north east side is the 20m long base of a stoa or portico in four courses of rusticated ashlar blocks of probably 5th century workmanship, with what appears to be a water-pool at its western end. Elements of other structures fill the space between the two areas. A number of meticulously cut and carved architectural elements lie all round, including blocks and pedestals bearing dowel-holes and what appears to be a lustral basin. Yet there is no evidence of columns or entablature suggesting a temple. What was here probably partook more of the nature of a large altar (oriented perfectly east/west) than of an actual temple. The grey stone was quarried on the saddle just below the rise to the west. The name of the summit Aghios Ioannis, suggests the ruins were ‘Christianised’ at some point as a chapel; but no visible evidence of this remains. Constructing, visiting, even conceiving of a sanctuary in such a place so arduous of access, is a measure of the enduring freedom of the Ancient Greek imagination. If the Divine and Invisible were present to them in even such a daunting place, no thought was given to mere human convenience in honouring that presence. The site, to be properly under stood, needs to be visited by foot in a storm, as the peak is enveloped in the thunder and lightning of Zeus. On the fertile lower slopes of the northern side of the mountain are some of the island’s most renowned vines. The sprawling settlement of Embonas (62km) is the principal centre for wine production; the C.A.I.R. co-operative is based here which produces a variety of wines— amongst which is Greece’s only methode champenoise wine. Production of a less commercial nature continues also on the southern slopes at Aghios Isidoros, a tranquil village backed by the massif of the mountain and over looking an ocean of pine-clad hills descending to the sea towards the east.


Rhodes Island is part of the Dodecanese Island Group, Greece.


access

Rhodes Island, Greece.

By air: With a total of 6–7 daily flights from Athens to Rhodes operated by both Olympic Air and Aegean Airways, Rhodes is easily accessible at all times of year. Its airport is also the hub for local flights within the area to Kastellorizo, Karpathos and Kasos (almost daily), and to Kos, Leros and Astypalaia (three times weekly). There are also daily connections direct to Thessaloniki and to Heraklion (Crete). The airport is 15km southwest of the centre of Rhodes town (€15 by taxi).
By boat: The port of Rhodes is also the principal hub for the Dodecanese Islands, with daily connections to all the principal islands, though the frequency of connections to the lesser islands varies considerably according to season (see entries for individual islands). There are year-round, direct connections by car-ferry to Piraeus (c. 16 hours) every day; and connections to eastern Crete twice weekly. In the holiday season, there are also daily connections (by private carriers) to Marmaris in Turkey. Since the port is large and has several harbours, it is important to ascertain from which part of it a ferry will leave.
The neighbouring island of Chalki is served twice weekly from Rhodes town, but there is a daily service from Kameiros Skala (2 hours). The GNTO office in the New Town (corner of Makariou and Papagou Streets, T. 22410 44335) provides helpful sheets with weekly boat departures, museum opening times, a price-list for taxis and schedules of bus times and fares for the whole island. Its web-site is: www.ando.gr/eot

Rhodes Travel Guide

eating

Rhodes Island, Greece.

Rhodes offers some of the best and most varied eating possibilities in the Aegean— although in the city itself, the visitor will need to explore outside the Old Town to sample the best Greek food. Within the walls of the Old Town, unimaginative and often overpriced tourist-fare prevails; we would suggest only: the -Marco Polo (see lodging, above); Dinoris Restaurant (upper medium price) in a tiny alley across from the entrance to the Archaeological Museum— an elegant and traditional taverna of long standing, one of the few in the Old Town regularly frequented by locals; Photis Restaurant (expensive; open all year) in Menekléous Street—also an elegant and well-established fish restaurant, where the undoubted high quality and presentation of its dishes compensates for the hauteur of the reception and service. At lunchtime, -Indigo (medium price), inside the Nea Agorá market building (at no.105/6) beside Mandraki harbour, offers delicious, finely prepared dishes from the cuisine of Greek Asia Minor. Further afield (but without question worth the short taxi-ride) in Zephyros, southeast of the city centre, is the -Paragadi fish restaurant (medium expensive; corner of Klaude Pepper & Australias Streets: reservation recommended, T. 22410 37775) with an exceptional quality of service and of seafood and fish dishes, prepared in the best and simplest manner. This is one of the best fish restaurants in the Dodecanese. Nearby, open all year, and usually packed with locals, is To Steki tou Cheila (inexpensive) at the southern end of Kodringtonou St., on the corner of Hadjiangelou and Dendrinou Sts: the symiakó (tiny shrimps) and the wine are both fresh and delicious.
Around the island: Mavrikos in Lindos (expensive; reservations, T. 22440 31232) is a fine and justly famous restaurant with pleasing setting, serving many homemade products. The excellent and panoramic -To Limeri tou Listí ("The robber"s den") in Prophilía (T. 22440 61578) in the central south of the island, certainly merits the long journey and represents one of the best places to eat on the island: it has imaginatively and care fully prepared traditional dishes of the highest standard, e.g. a light and unforgettable imam bayaldı. Nearby, Petrino in the picturesque plateia of Váti, is a good country taverna with fresh and unaffected cuisine.

Rhodes Travel Guide

further reading

Rhodes Island, Greece.

Cecil Torr, Rhodes in Ancient Times and Rhodes in Modern Times (first published by CUP in 1885, both now re-issued by Archaeopress ‘3rd guides’, Oxford); Lawrence Durrell, Reflections on a Marine Venus (Faber & Faber, London, 1953); H.J.A Sire, The Knights of Malta (Yale, London & New Haven, 1994); Vassilis Colonas, Italian Architecture in the Dodecanese Islands, 1912–1943 (Olkos Press, Athens, 2002); Elias Kollias, The Mediaeval City of Rhodes etc.,(Ministry of Culture, Athens, 1998).

Rhodes Travel Guide

lodging

Rhodes Island, Greece.

The most beautiful and characterful place to stay in the Old Town of Rhodes is the -Hotel Marco Polo (T./fax 22410 25562, www. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. ; open May–late Oct) at 42 Aghiou Phanaríou Street, not far from where it joins (the main) Sokrátous Street at the Mehmet Agha Mosque. With architecturally fine rooms of great individuality, and the thoughtful and friendly service that goes with private ownership, this is a memorable place either to stay or just to dine on its imaginative, traditional food in the peace and quiet of a mediaeval walled-garden. Elegant, modern luxury at a higher price, in an enviable location just off the Street of the Knights, is offered by the newly opened -Avalon Boutique Hotel (T./ fax 22410 31438/31439, www.avalonRhodes .gr), which is open all year round. The Old Town also has many small and characterful pensions: worthy of mention are, The Apollo Guesthouse (T. 22410 32003, www.apollo-touristhouse.com) and Hotel Andreas (T. 22410 34156, fax 74285, www.hotelandreas.com), at 28c and 28d Omírou Street respec tively (contiguous, but under separate management) not far from the St John/Koski nou Gate, and overlooking the ancient church of Aghia Kyriaki. Both are relatively inexpensive, and inhabit interesting buildings; the rooms are comfortable, but small. At Ippodámou Street, 61, is the delightful S. Nikolis Hotel (T. 22410 34561, fax 32034, www.s-nikolis.gr). These last three close between late October and the week before Easter. In the winter season, the New Town has a number of hotels which are open year-round and offer more conventional services and convenience. Comfort able and satisfactory, without being too big or expensive, is the A-class Hotel Mediterranean (T. 22410 24661, fax 22828, www.mediterranean. gr), opposite the Casino at 35 Kos Street; most rooms have good sea-views. Exceptional value year-round is represented by the Esperia Hotel (T. 22410 23941–4) at 7 Griva Street which is warm, pleasant and strictly functional: the pool-side rooms are quietest.

Rhodes Travel Guide

practical info

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

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