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In the footsteps of the knights

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Rhodes: In the footsteps of the knights

Known as the "Island of the Knights", the capital of the Dodecanese has been dominating the southeastern edge of the Aegean, at the crossroads of the East and West for the past 2,400 years. The mythical homeland of the "Colossus of Rhodes", has been the meeting point of diverse peoples and cultures who left their footprint in every corner of the island.

From the ancient Greeks, the Romans, and the Byzantines to the Knights Hospitaller, the Ottomans and the Italians. This fascinating osmosis shaped the island’s distinct culture. A mixture of ancient Greek glamour, chivalrous grandeur, oriental exoticism, and Italian elegance make Rhodes stand out in the Mediterranean and beyond.

The favourite island of the international jet-set, the lovers of cosmopolitan life and luxury, the romantic travellers who honour history and culture, the true nature lovers, and adventure hunters, the so-called "Emerald of the Mediterranean" hides a small piece of happiness for every visitor.

Routes & Attractions

Created by the Knights Hospitaller, the Old Town of Rhodes is one of the best-preserved medieval castle towns in the world and a UNESCO World Heritage Site (1988). Behind its impressive walls with the 11 gates, a never-ending living tale unfolds.

The palace of the Grand Master, the Street of the Knights hosting the inns of the 'tongues' into which the Order was divided, the mosque of Suleiman the Magnificent, the Archaeological Museum; these stops are imperative during every tour. Along with the Municipal Gallery, Our Lady of the Castle, the Clock Tower, the Turkish baths and the Gothic churches, the mysterious arcades and the stone-paved squares laid out centuries ago, create an atmospheric scenery that fires the imagination.

Outside the medieval walls, the New Town of Rhodes captivates the visitor with its cosmopolitan aura. The port of Mandraki, where the huge Colossus of Rhodes once stood, is one of the most idyllic spots of the city. Stand near the two columns with the bronze deer, the statues of Elafos and Elafina which are among the island’s landmarks. Walk to the edge of the pier with the lighthouse and fortress of Agios Nikolaos and the 3 picturesque windmills.

Do not miss the long walk along the alluring waterfront, an open-air museum of dazzling architectural monuments of the Italian occupation. Among them, the stunning building of the old Governor’s Palace, reminiscent of the Doge's Palace of Venice, the art deco Aquarium and the legendary Albergodelle Rose hotel built in the interwar period (currently a Casino).

Very close to the area is Rodini Park, a natural oasis with hiking trails, lush vegetation, ponds and bridges, ideal for relaxation and picnics. Its location coincides with the location of the famous Rhodes School of Rhetoric in the ancient times.

On Monte Smith Hill, the monumental ruins of the ancient acropolis of Rhodes are impressing. Stroll through the exquisitely restored Hellenistic stadium of Diagoras and the Temple of Pythian Apollo, and marvel at the most beautiful views over the city and the glorious sunset. From here, all roads lead to renowned Lindos, the most picturesque and noble town of the island. Built in the shadow of the ancient acropolis rock with the temple of Lindia Athena, is an authentic Cycladic state. The walk through the pebbled streets with the whitewashed houses, the artisan shops and the magnificent captains' houses with the arched entrances is unforgettable.

Before you leave Rhodes, enjoy a memorable road trip to the medieval mountain villages – the gems of the Rhodian countryside, on the slopes of Attavyros. From the listed settlement of Koskinou with the famous pyliones (external doors) of the multi-coloured houses to the winegrowing village of Embonas, and from the beautiful Kritinia with its historic castle to Archangellos with its meticulous local dialect and ceramic art tradition.

Beaches & Activities

Gifted by nature with 200 km of coastline, Rhodes offers countless mesmerising beaches, from vast golden sandy shores with turquoise waters to emerald idyllic coves. The most cosmopolitan beaches of the island spread out on the east side, stretching from the North to the South.

The much-photographed Elli beach, described by author Lawrence Durrell as the finest beach on the Mediterranean, offers the closest getaway next to the medieval city of Rhodes. The tourist resort of Faliraki, a destination for the loud international youth, resembles a water funpark. The verdant bay of Anthony Quinn and its beach (Ladiko), famous from the film "The Guns of Navarone", is a paradise of tranquillity.

Tsambika beach, a family spot nestled under the imposing rock of the homonymous historic Monastery, will captivate you with its golden sand and shallow waters.

Nature lovers praise the green scenery of Agathi and the pine-covered Kallithea with the historic art deco thermal baths dating back to the Italian occupation. If you’re social yet loner, you will find your place in the rocky bay of Agios Pavlos below Lindos Acropolis and in the wonderful Afandou with its all-day beach parties.

At the southernmost tip of Rhodes, the pine-clad islet of Prasonisi resembles a magical scenery of an exotic paradise, as the tidal phenomenon transforms it from an island into a peninsula. The right windy side of the beach is a timeless international Mecca for windsurfers and kite-surfers.

The hinterland of Rhodes offers a fascinating diversity of landscapes to explore, a true magnet for hikers, nature-lovers and archaeological safaris enthusiasts. Do not miss the opportunity to follow the stone-built alpine path from the village of Salakos to the top of the pine-covered mountain of Profitis Ilias, to admire the two preserved chalets dating back the Italian occupation. Tour the famous Valley of Butterflies (near Theologos village) to experience the magnificent spectacle of one of the rarest Panaxia butterfly habitats in Europe. Walk up the pine-covered hill of the Monastery of Panagia Filerimos, the imposing Gothic church complex built here by the Knights of St. John and follow the stone-paved path of Golgothas leading to the giant cross.

Look for the impressive ruins of Hellenistic Kameiros, known as "The Pompeii of Greece". If you have time, book a sailing day-cruise to the beautiful Symi, the small island of old maritime glamour, colourful mansions and authentic simplicity.

Tastes of the island

The rich history and geographical position of the island, at the crossroads of the East and West, contributed to the unique identity of Rhodes’ gastronomy. Its traditional cuisine hides strong culinary surprises. Try Loukoumpilaf (pasta with minced meat and cinnamon in the oven), matsi (handmade pasta) boiled in meat broth with butter and parmesan, green beans boiled with garlic sauce, gooseberry stew, giaprakia (stuffed vine leaves with minced meat and rice), stuffed courgette flowers (with goat cheese and mint), stewed caravans (snails in tomato sauce with onion and cumin).

Discover the souporyzo (risotto cooked in ink), the Rhodian lacani (goat meat with chickpeas, bulgur, cinnamon and cumin, cooked slowly in a wood-fired oven), and the “kamilakia” (stuffed vine leaves of cyclamen and rice filling cooked in a pot with egg-lemon sauce). Enjoy the famous pitaroudia (tomato or chickpea balls) with a shot of frozen souma (Rhodes’ raki). Taste the talagoutes (pancakes with Rhodian honey and sesame seeds) or  mantinades (xerotigano with honey syrup) for breakfast. Sweet yourself up with the famous melekouni (chewy nougat with honey and almond) as well as the unique spoon sweet made from cyclamen bulbs.

Wine lovers will be delighted with the select varieties of the Rhodian vineyard. After all, viticulture is an ancient tradition on the island. The mountainous village of Embonas, the wine-producing capital of the island, has been hosting the Wine Festival for 70 years now (August 28-30). Try the local varieties Athiri, Amorgiano, Mandilaria and the sweet varieties Muscat (Muscat Blanc and Muscatdi Trani). Apart from plenty of wine, visitors will enjoy a representation of vinification with a traditional wine press, music and dancing events as well as treats of grape sweets (moustalevria).

Traditions & Events

September is the month of the amazing Medieval Festival of Rhodes, a three-day fiesta with parades of knights on horses, fencing shows, concerts with medieval music, jugglers, magicians, medieval market and delicacies based on medieval recipes. The castle in the Old Town, along with the castles of Lindos and Kritinia, are transformed into atmospheric medieval resorts. Every March the Carnival of Rhodes takes place, one of the largest in Greece. The fiesta includes fanciful parades of satirical floats, theme nights, musical performances and parties. The events take place from village to village and culminate in the Medieval Town with the carnival feast.

Don’t miss...

See the sunset from the top of the imposing Kastelo of Monolithos. Built in the 15th century by Magister D' Aubusson, the castle of the eagles stands on a 236m high cliff with magnificent views of neighbouring Halki.

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