|About city||Gallery||Where to stay|
In ancient times, the island was known for the Colossus of Rhodes – one of the Seven Wonders of the World. The building of this mighty, 36-metre-high monument for the god Helios took 12 years
From the Balkans to Caucasus, nations big and small tell legends about God giving them the best piece of land. The Greeks make no exception to this when they talk about Rhodes, the third largest Greek island after Crete and Euboea. According to legend, on the day when gods were dividing up the world among themselves, Helios was to illuminate the Earth. Fully focused on his task, he missed the distribution and had to raise and island out of the sea and claim it his own. To honour his wife, he called it Rhodes. From that moment on, the inhabitants of Rhodes are considered to be the children of the sun god Helios.
Rhodes, which used to be an important Greek cultural and economic centre, is situated on the Mediterranean Sea, just off the Turkish coastline. Most tourists come here for the climate, abundant entertainment venues and beautiful beaches. Summers here are warm and winters soft. What's more, Rhodes has at least 300 sunny days every year. The western coast of the island is characterized by its lush vegetation, while the eastern coast is famous for its sandy beaches and cosy bays. The heritage of different cultures and different eras, from antiquity to the modern age, is another reason why so many tourists are drawn here.
In ancient times, the island was known for the Colossus of Rhodes – one of the Seven Wonders of the World. The building of this mighty, 36-metre-high monument for the god Helios took 12 years, 15 tonnes of bronze and 9 tonnes of iron. To let the craftsmen do their job, parts of the monument were covered in soil, helping them reach ever higher. In 290 BC, when the sculpture was finally finished and dug out from under the ground, news about this spectacular, shiny bronze statue, which could be seen from great distance, reached far and wide. Unfortunately, the statue lasted for only 65 years – in 225 BC, it was destroyed by a strong earthquake. At first, the inhabitants of Rhodes wanted to rebuild it, but later thought better of it – maybe Helios came to hate it and decided to tear it down.
The upper part of the destroyed statue spent almost a thousand years lying on the shore and was then sold by the Saracens in 653. Many centuries later, the Colossus of Rhodes inspired the well-known sculptor A. Bartholdi to design a slightly similar structure – the famous Statue of Liberty in New York.
Today, this island - quite the playground now - can offer something for everyone: water sports, fishing, diving, archaeological monuments, excellent beaches, good food and great wine. The wine of Rhodes, by the way, is considered to be the best in all of Greece – the excellent local soil and sunny weather make for juicy grapes. The little village of Embonas, located on a slope of the island’s highest mountain, Atavyros (1,215 metres), is famous for its many species of grapes, olives and tobacco. You can taste and buy some wine in the local wine factories.
The city of Rhodes – which used to be the largest European city in the Middle Ages – is protected by UNESCO, and many historical movies were shot in its old town. Among other impressive things, rising from the subtropical gardens, is the city castle, minarets, defensive wall around the old town, the three windmills by the Fort of St. Nicholas, the New Market and the entrance to the Mandrake Port, marked by two deer. It’s a city with a well-developed tourist infrastructure, picturesque coastline, golden dunes and crystal-clear sea waters.
One of the natural wonders of Rhodes is the Valley of Butterflies, where you can see unusual species of these magical creatures flying over the heads of tourists and sleeping on rocks, tree trunks and leaves. The valley has lots of stone paths, rivers, waterfalls and small lakes full of water lilies. Pines and deciduous trees fill the air with the scent of resin. Once here, you’re allowed to take pictures of both the butterflies and the surrounding landscape. The only things asked of you are to refrain from smoking and loud noises.
The village of Lindos, built at the same time as Rhodes, is another important place you should visit. In ancient times, it was one of three important antique cities. Today, Lindos is a lively little village, characterized by blindingly white houses. Ascend the Lindos acropolis by foot or donkey and you’ll get a magnificent panorama of the St. Paul’s Bay.
The second of the three ancient cities is Kameiros, situated in the western part of the island. It was more isolated and conservative than the commercial Lindos and the aristocratic Ialysos. Kameiros was destroyed by an earthquake in the 2nd century BC. In 1859 the area was excavated, which led to the discovery of the 'Pompeii of Rhodes'.
The third city – Ialysos – is located 8 kilometres from the capital of Rhodes. Even though it’s a tourist-beloved cosmopolitan resort, it also has many ancient monuments.
From Rhodes you can also go to the nearby Halki and Simi islands or visit Turkey.