Are you ready to visit Rhodes, the Greek Island of Knights?
Rhodes, the largest of Greece’s Dodecanese islands, happens to also be one of the very popular ones among travellers who visit Greece. It combines cosmopolitan vibes with beautiful beaches, ancient ruins and medieval architecture. Let’s explore what this magical island has to offer in terms of beaches, culture, history and, a Podcast story!
Explore the Old Town of Rhodes, and the medieval city
Also known as the castle of Rhodes for the locals, the island’s Old Town is a UNESCO World Heritage as well as the largest and best-preserved fortress in Europe. It dates to 1309, when the knights of the Order of Saint John occupied the island and decided to build a citadel. This explains why Rhodes is also referred to as “the island of Knights”. The island underwent a sudden economic growth, boosted by the treasures that the knights brought with them from the Holy Land, who started and continued working on fortification projects on the island throughout their stay. This was also because the prosperity of the island was very enticing to the Ottoman Empire next door – Turkey is about 18km away and can be seen from Rhodes.
The Palace of the Grand Master of the Knights of Rhodes, also known as Kastello, is one of the highlights of the Medieval Town of Rhodes. It was the administrative centre, the residence of leader of the Knights of St John of Rhodes, and the seat of the established ruling class. Today it is home to the Museum of Rhodes.
Another location that you need to visit in Old Town is the street of the Knights (Odos Ippotón), a well-preserved cobblestone road that is about 600m long. It connects the Grand Master’s Palace with the Knight’s Hospital, which houses the Archaeological Museum of Rhodes.
The medieval city of Rhodes maintains the architecture and the urban organisation of a medieval city as well as its primary building materials. Unlike similar locations across Greece, any alterations to the walls and the monuments within the city during the Ottoman period did not harm the historic settlement, allowing it to maintain its character and its role as an integral part of the urban history of Rhodes. It was an influential port throughout eastern Mediterranean at the end of the Middle Ages and is still one of the most beautiful examples of architecture from the Gothic period in Greece. The fact that it is a medieval city located on the island of the Aegean Sea makes it even more unique, as well as that it was built on the site of an ancient Greek city. It commands a port where formerly stood the Colossus of Rhodes, one of the Seven Wonders of the ancient world, which can only add to the interest it presents. Finally, it should be noted that this location was inhabited consistently until today. As a result, UNESCO decided that all the built-up elements dating before 1912 are vulnerable and they must be protected, declaring the architectural complex to be a World Heritage Site in 1988.
Discover the ancient Acropolis of Lindos
Rhodes has not only a medieval castle, but also an ancient Greek temple, which dates from about 300 BC. It is located about 47 km from Rhodes town in the picturesque Lindos, a small village with narrow streets, little churches, and whitewashed houses. From the village there is a road that leads up to the hill where the beautiful Acropolis is located, an ancient temple dedicated to the goddess Athena Lindia.
Visit Petaloudes, also known as Valley of the Butterflies
Not so much interested in history and culture, but rather in nature? The Valley of the Butterflies (Petaloudes, gr. πεταλούδες) is a unique nature reserve which wildlife enthusiasts can visit from mid-June to late September and see the rare species of butterfly Panaxia (Quadripunctaria Poda) in its natural habitat. If you do not manage to visit the island during these months, don’t worry! It’s a magical little valley, lush with pines and a small stream that runs across it forming ponds and small waterfalls in its course.
Watch the sunset from Monolithos Castle
More castles! The Monolithos Castle is located about 70km away from Rhodes town, above the village of Monolithos. Its original purpose was to protect the area from pirates and other enemies; today only ruins survive but the view remains spectacular, which makes it an ideal location for you to visit and watch the sunset from.
Go swimming at the best beaches of Rhodes
Thanks to its vast number and variety of beaches, Rhodes has something for everyone – secluded or crowded, cosmopolitan or low-key, visitors are spoilt for choice. Some of the nicest destinations include Lindos, Anthony Quinn, Faliraki, Tsambika, Kallithea, Agathi, Elli and Afandou beaches.
Rhodes is a very popular destination for foreigners, also thanks to the large number of charter inexpensive flights from various countries and the island’s famously vibrant nightlife. 😉 As a result, during the months of July and August, the island is literally brimming with people which can be a bit off-putting if you’d prefer to explore it in more peaceful and quiet settings. If you have the flexibility to avoid the so-called ‘high season’, we recommend doing so. If you are set on traveling during July or August though, do not worry! You will be rewarded with the perfect, warm sea temperatures for swimming.
Listen to a Podcast Story taking place in Rhodes 🙂
Podcast story 23, for Intermediate Language Levels in Greece, is a story about Katerina, who lives in Rhodes, and is renovating a small house in the Medieval castle of the Old Town.
Listen to the story, or read it…and learn more Greek at the same time