The shallow waters around the southern tip of the island are a habitat of both green and loggerhead turtles, which may still breed in the vicinity of the promontory of Cape Germata, due south of Chochlakas. This was considered one of their last breeding places in the Dodecanese. The dunes and areas of garrigue by the shore in this southeast corner are also rich in bird-life and flowers. King Ferdi nand’s orchid (Ophrys regis-fernandii)—unflatteringly known as the ‘earwig orchid’, because its dark elongated lip has the slick texture and form of an earwig’s body and head—is endemic to this corner of the Aegean and can of ten be found here, together with others, such as the Holy and Pyramidal orchids. Larks, swallows (including Red rumped swallows, recognisable by the russet and white patch above the dark tail), and both Black-headed and Cretzschmar’s buntings, breed in the area; in periods of migration, there is a wide variety of song-birds and waders. At the northern end of Plimiri Bay is the church of the Zoodochos Pigi, a 16th century building incorporating ancient columns and capitals in its structure: tombs and part of a circuit wall can be seen on the landward side of the promontory above the church. A very different kind of church is to be seen 4.5km west of Chochlakas beside the main road—the disused concrete structure of the church of Aghios Pavlos, formerly the Catholic church of the Italian Agricultural Settlement of San Marco (Petracco and Bernabiti, 1936). The long horizontal lines of the settle ment’s administrative buildings, broken only by the vault and the tower of the church, are reminiscent of structures in the Tuscan Maremma where agricultural buildings in similar style and of the same period are to be found. The broad brick surround of the church’s west door recalls the Catalan door-frames in the Old City of Rhodes . Kattavia (76km from Rhodes ) has the feel of ‘the end of the line’: many of its fine houses are abandoned or ruined; the main church and school, as if to compensate, have been over-restored. The village was fortified by the Knights of St John to provide a safe refuge for the local population in an area very susceptible to pirate attack, but nothing now remains to be seen of these walls. Mycenae an tombs have been found in the vicinity of the village, and there is evidence of a Late Bronze Age settlement here on the spur of Aghios Minas. Finds of later Greek and Roman pottery show that occupation continued into his toric times. The principal archaeological remains in the area, however, are to be seen at the very extremity of the island, 9km to the south across a deserted area. The track to the right (west) just in front of the isthmus of the islet of Prasonisi, leads to the foot of a sloping promontory, on which are the re mains of Ancient Vroulia, a Late Geometric/Early Archaic settlement (8th to 6th centuries bc). Most of what is of interest to the visitor lies on the far side of the hill. A wall runs northwest/southeast along the ridge and the stepped or terraced foundations of the ancient houses run along this axis. At the summit, with good views of Karpathos and beyond, the remains of the most substantial building lie athwart the main axis and are oriented east/west, suggesting a probable cultic use. Beyond, at the northwestern extremity, is a sheer drop to the sea below. The site has given its name to a distinctive style of Archaic, black-fig ure pottery, in which floral designs are lightly incised into the dark surface and colours added afterwards. The islet of Prasonisi (with a lighthouse on its far side) is tethered to the main island by a narrow isthmus, which defines two sweeping sandy bays to either side, one or other of which takes the force of any wind blowing, creating conditions ideal for the dedicated surfer. The mea gre settlement by the isthmus and its lodgings are mostly given over to the pursuit of this hobby in the summer sea son. In the winter there is nobody; and the sunsets—and even the surf—can be more dramatic.
Rhodes Island is part of the Dodecanese Island Group, Greece.