RHODES



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Rhodes - general

General
Cosmopolitan, spacious, immensely varied, blessed with a fullness of vegetation and an unforgettable radiance of light, the island of Rhodes has always been a proudly self-sufficient world of its own. The first line of Horace’s seventh Ode cites ‘claram Rhodon’ as a paragon of beauty, and the poet’s choice of the word clarus artfully evokes not only its ‘fame’ but also the ‘brilliance’ of its light: the island was, from the beginning, sacred to Helios, divinity of the sun. Roman statesmen and emperors travelled here to enjoy and imbibe the island’s art and culture, and intellectuals from all over the civilised world came to study with its scientists, thinkers and orators.
   The island has a long and important history. One of its most fascinating moments relates to the creation of the city of Rhodes itself. It is a testimony to the pragmatism and (intermittent) farsightedness of the Ancient Greek mind that three, well-established, thriving and competing ancient cities in different parts of the island—Lindos, Ialysos and Kameiros—should have taken the peaceful and momentous decision to ‘synoecise’ in 408/7 bc—that is, to renounce their individual independence and combine together so as to found and build a new and greater city which was to be called, like the island, ‘Rhodes ’. This phenomenon had happened elsewhere in the Greek world but rarely on such a significant scale. Each city knew that what it was combining to create would eclipse its own individual importance: but the result was the emergence of one of the richest cities of the later Greek world, ex travagantly praised by Strabo and Pliny for its beauty and wealth of art.
   Out of the blue, over a thousand years later, the island’s character was once again utterly transformed, this time by the arrival of an international group of wealthy, aristocratic warriors—the Hospitaller Knights of St John— who embellished and cultivated and fortified the island as a chivalric kingdom in the sea. The Knights too were a kind of synoecism—an unique confluence of different nationalities with common Christian interests, creating something that was not a state, nor a nation, nor anything that had a precedent, but which was nonetheless a fully independent entity and which became a crucial—some times solitary—player in the theatre of Mediterranean history. Finally, at the beginning of the last century, the Italians arrived with different ambitions and built Rhodes into a regional capital of their empire with a new centre created in a memorable, but somewhat alien and eclectic kind of architecture. In short, there is nothing common place in the story of this remarkable island.
   As a consequence, of all the cities in Greece Rhodes is the only one that comes close to Athens in the density and richness of its monuments. In fact, in the sheer variety to be seen—Hellenistic, Mediaeval, Ottoman, Traditional, Italian Colonial—it substantially outshines the capital. Modern Rhodes lives naturally and unaffectedly with this legacy. Although it has more than its fair share of heavy tourism the island does not live solely on its past but sup ports a vital and independent commercial and cultural life of its own which makes it an equal pleasure to visit in or out of season. An acquaintance with the island takes time; but it will continue to surprise with new finds however of ten visited. The interest of the city itself is amply matched by the island as a whole where there is an exhilarating ar ray of monuments which, in one way or another, are out of the ordinary. Amongst ancient archaeological sites in the Islands, Ancient Kameiros is one of the most untouched having suffered no over-building or interference between its abandonment at the end of Antiquity and its re-discovery at the beginning of the last century. Few sanctuaries in all of Greece have a more improbable or panoramic site than that of Zeus Atabyrios on the summit of the is land’s highest peak. Three of the most complete painted Byzantine interiors in the Aegean—each quite distinct from the other—are to be seen in the main churches at Lindos, Asklepiei­o, and at the Monastery of Tharri; and for the quality and idiosyncrasy of their artists’ style, the murals in the much smaller churches of Aghii Giorgios and Michai―l at Prophili­a (12th century), and of Aghios Nikolaos at Trianda (15th century) should not be missed. Dozens more chapels with painted interiors dot the intimate and bucolic landscape of the island’s interior: one of particular charm, the rural chapel of Aghios Nikolaos ‘Foundoukli’, lies just outside the island’s most bizarre vil lage—the semi-abandoned Italian agricultural settlement, now called Eleousa on the slopes of Mount Prophitis Elias, whose buildings in an eclectic architecture of the 1930s are now mostly derelict. The folded hills of the deserted centre of the island and the dunes of its south are home to many unusual trees, flowers, reptiles, birds and butterflies. The only European home of the Liquidambar orientalis tree, with its curative and calmative gum and beautiful autumn colours, is on Rhodes ; its presence is part of the reason for the extraordinary display of the millions of Jersey tiger moths that congregate nearby in the ‘Petaloudes Valley’ in high summer. There are wild peonies that grow in the lower mountain slopes; and turtles in the shallow waters of the south. All of them are a rare beauty to behold; but their continued presence on the island cannot for ever be taken for granted.


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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