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Greek Islands: Rhodes

January 30, 2008
by findingDulcinea Staff
Bye-bye, Cyclades, hello, Dodecanese  … Islands that is. Rhodes is the largest of this chain of islands in the eastern Aegean Sea, so close to Turkey it could almost be a condiment.

The Stuff of Legend

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Rhodes is the stuff of legend; even Shakespeare mentions the Colossus (an enormous rendering of the god Helios and one of the seven wonders of the ancient world) purported to have stood at the port entrance to Rhodes. But although the great statue tumbled, many of Rhodes’s ancient treasures still survive, beginning with the medieval castle known as the Palace of the Grandmaster, a Byzantine-era structure that will transport you right back to the 7th century BC. Rhodes was subsequently under the influence of The Order of St. John of Jerusalem, then Turkish and Italian rule.

Ancient Flavors

All of these flavors are in evidence in the Old Town. Here within the fortress walls you can also visit the Archeological Museum and the eerie Street of Knights. In fact, you can find yourself so steeped in history—the winged statue, the old baths, the Lindos Acropolis and Temple of Athena—you might almost forget that you’re on an island resort with some of the most beautiful shoreline in the world.

Sand and Clear Waters

But the beaches of Rhodes beckon, from the secluded cove of Agathi in the southeast to the pristine beauty of Traganou. An especially transcendent spot is the rocky pool of clear water that forms Anthony Quinn Bay renamed after the movie star after he filmed the Guns of Navarone in the vicinity.

There are a handful of lovely villages on Rhodes, but the largest, Archangelos stands out for its beauty. Surrounded by the mountains, the village preserves the charm of ancient traditions kept alive by the residents: speaking in a dialect and practicing the arts of their forefathers. The first houses in the village were built in 1023. The Church of the Archangel Michael dominates the center of town; from there, picturesque lanes branch out, lined with traditional houses with arched passageways painted bright colors such as yellow, blue and green.

Unlike many of the other islands, Rhodes is also renowned for its flora and fauna. Although it, too, has a base of volcanic rock, its abundant sunshine and warm spring rains make an ideal climate for a wide variety of herbs and wildflowers, with each month bringing a fresh crop of fragrant blooms.

Rhodes After Dark

The thrum of nightlife can be heard on this island, too, although not quite as insistently as on Mykonos. Matt Barrett offers an insider’s look into some of the best spots; a trip to the Casino in the Grand Hotel Summer Palace is a purely adult indulgence.

Overall, to paraphrase Matt Barrett, if you like to mix it up: beaches and medieval history, art and architecture with shopping, eating, drinking, and exploring the natural beauty of Greece, then Rhodes is the perfect place.
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