RHODES - ATTRACTIONS
Located at the end of the Street of the Knights in the Old Town of Rhodes, it was originally built on the foundations of the Temple of Sun God (Helios), whose cult was popular in Rhodes in antiquity and was the residence of the governor and administrative center in the Medieval times. Constructed in the 14th century by the Knights of Saint John with spherical towers and the arched gate. The palace was enormous in size. It had 158 rooms, although today only 24 are open to visitors. The rooms have antique furniture of the 16th and the 17th century, exquisite multi-colored marbles, sculptures, carpets and fine Oriental vases.
On the first floor are the official rooms as well as the private quarters of the Grand Master. On the ground floor, the auxiliary rooms are found. The most important rooms are the Grand Reception Hall, the Waiting Room, the impressive ballroom and the elegant Music Room (don`t miss the Medusa Mosaic). Of special significance are the frescoes by renowned artists, and the floors paved with mosaic of ancient Roman and Byzantine art. In addition, the interior yard is adorned with many statues of the Greek and Roman period. Unfortunately, this magnificent building was largely destroyed in 1856 by explosives, hidden in the basement of the church of Saint John. At the beginning of the 20th century, the palace was restored by the Italians who occupied the Dodecanese islands that time. In the years that followed, it served as a holiday residence for the King of Italy Victor Emmanuel III and for Benito Mussolini. Today, it belongs to the Greek State and hosts an interesting museum inside. Also various exhibitions and performances frequently take place in the palace rooms.
The ancient town of Lindos, 28 miles south of Rhodes Town, was founded by the Dorians in the 10th century BC. In the 8th century, it already was a major trading center, due to its geographical position between Greece and the Middle East. However, it started to decline when the city of Rhodes was founded, in the 5th century. The archaeological remains found inside and around the Acropolis of Lindos reveal the wealth of this ancient town. Part of its worth-visiting monuments is a Doric 4th-century temple devoted to Athena Lindia, where people used to worship their patron goddess with offerings and sacrifices. It was built on the remains of another temple. The Propylaea (the gateways) of the Sanctuary consists of a staircase and five door openings. At the foot of the staircase is the relief of an ancient warship, called trireme. Apart from these, there is also a Roman temple dedicated to the emperor Diocletian and a Hellenistic wall that surrounds the Acropolis. All these ancient sites are protected by a Medieval Castle, built in the early 14th century by the Knights of St John. Two towers of the castle are still well-preserved. Outside the castle, on the southwest side of the hill, there used to be an ancient theatre. Today the only remains of it are some rows of seats, part of the auditorium. It is believed that the theatre could host 1,800 spectators. The excavations in the archaeological site of Lindos started in the early 20th century. The Italians, who occupied Rhodes island from 1912-1945, tried to restore the ancient findings but they actually damaged part of them. The site today belongs to the Greek Ministry of Culture and much work is being done, by both Greek and foreign archaeologists, to protect this monument.
The Monastery of Panagia Filerimos is located on a hill above Ialyssos, about 6 miles from Rhodes Town. The monastery is dedicated to Virgin Mary the Life-Giving Source (Zoodochos Pighi) and its architecture is much different than the usual monasteries in Greece. It was constructed with stone in a Gothic style, on the site of an older Byzantine monastery. The monastery was built in the 15th century by the Knights of Saint John, who had conquered the island. Inside, there was the holy icon of the Virgin Mary that the Knights had probably brought to Rhodes from Jerusalem. When the Ottomans conquered the island in 1523, the Knights left and took the icon with them. After floating in Italy, Malta, France and Russia, this icon today is hosted in the National Museum of Montenegro. In the region around the monastery, there are the ruins of a baptistery in the shape of a cross, the remains of Ancient Ialyssos and an underground church of Saint George that dates from the 14th century AD. From Filerimos Monastery starts the path to Golgothas. At the top of this path, up on a hill with amazing view, there is a huge cross, while on the one side of the path; there are engravings that represent the Passion of the Christ.
The Archaeological Museum is located in the Old Town of Rhodes. It is housed in the Medieval building of the Hospital of the Knights, in the Palace of the Grand Master. The construction of this building began in 1440 by Grand Master de Lastic and it was completed in 1948 by Grand Master d`Aubusson. The building was renovated in the early 20th century by the Italians, as was the whole Medieval Town of Rhodes. Today the Archaeological Museum contains findings from excavations all over the island and some small islets of Dodecanese. Visitors can see a collection of vases, figurines, small objects and tomb groups from were found in Ancient Ialyssos and Ancient Kameiros and date from the Geometric till the Roman times. There are also mosaic floors from the Hellenistic times and funerary slabs of the Knights.
Kámiros was one of the three most powerful cities of ancient Rhodes and flourished during the 6th and 5th century BC. The ruins of the city and the neighboring necropolis were discovered in 1859; magnificent public buildings, a market, temples, houses and an acropolis on the hill top bear eloquent witness to the splendor and wealth of ancient Kámiros. It is also worth exploring the surrounding villages, such as Soroni on the north coast and Fanes to the south, a nice spot for kitesurfing and windsurfing.
The Monastery of Panagia Tsambika is located about 15 miles south of Rhodes Town, between Kolymbia and Archangelos. The old monastery of Tsambika is built on top of a hill with gorgeous view to the sea and the surrounding area, while the new monastery, which is still active today, is found on the road that connects Archangelos to Rhodes Town. It is not known when the old monastery was founded, but it was reconstructed in 1770 by a monk. Some resources mention that an altar to the goddess Artemis would stand on the same site in the antiquity and sacrifices of animals used to take place there. This monastery was built according to the Dodecanesian architecture with hollow roof tiles. The floor of the temple and the yard are covered with pebbles and shells. Some icons date from the 19th century, while the iconostasis is even older. The name of the monastery comes from the word tsamba, which means spark in the local dialect. In fact, tradition says that a local shepherd found an icon of Virgin Mary on top of the cliff, where the old monastery was later built, following a vigil light. The icon of Panagia Tsambika is considered miracle-working, particularly for the childless women, which is why many women offer to the icon of Panagia child dolls. This monastery is considered a protector of the island and in fact many locals are named Tsambikos for men and Tsambika for women.
The Aquarium of Rhodes is housed in the building of the Hydrobiological Station, within the limits of Rhodes city. The building was constructed in 1934-36, during the Italian occupation, to house the Institute of Biological Research. After the liberation of the Dodecanese islands, it was named as the Greek Hydrobiological Institute and also included an aquarium and a museum. The main objective of the Aquarium is to present and preserve the species of the Mediterranean Sea. It constitutes of a circular area with 13 big tanks and 15 small ones. Fish and organisms from the Mediterranean are selected and displayed there in public view. The tanks are made of cement and their bottoms are covered with sand, shingles and corals. The water in the tanks is mainly filtered sea water. These tanks host different kinds of sea species, such as sea turtles, dolphins, sharps, seals, mollusks, echinoderms, crabs and many kinds of fish. Apart from these tanks, there is also a big underground area that serves for stocking new species or sea animals that need special treatment and protection. This place is frequently used to hospitalize sea turtles and seals from the nearby waters. The museum displays embalmed sea species, like dolphins, sea turtles and sharks that are certainly worth to visit. The Hydrobiological Station of Rhodes runs today a lot of research on the oceanography of the Dodecanese islands and works as a model research unit in the Mediterranean area.
The Valley of Butterflies is found in the western side of Rhodes island, approximately 17 miles from Rhodes city and 3 miles southeast of Theologos village. It is a natural reserve, unique of its kind. As its name indicates, this area is a lush green valley that gets overwhelmed in spring and autumn with butterflies of the Panaxia genus, species Quadripunctaria Poda. During the rainy season, butterflies stay in the caterpillars, in various areas around the Mediterranean Sea. However, in spring, when they get become butterflies, they fly to areas of high humidity in order to reproduce. That is why they come to this valley, which is crossed by river Pelekanos and many waterfalls are scattered all along it. Every year, from May to September, thousands of visitors come to watch this lovely species and walk through narrow paths. The coolness of this place, the flowing waters and the shade of the trees make it ideal to rest, especially during the hot summer days. Small, wooden bridges cross the river and an uphill path leads to the Monastery of Panagia Kalopetra. Unfortunately, tourism flow has a negative impact onto the butterfly population. Visitors must know that butterflies do not have a stomach. They just store energy in their body to use it when needed. They do not eat until the reproduction period, so when visitors disturb butterflies, they fly away and consume valuable energy. So, keep in mind that it is strictly forbidden to disturb butterflies in any way. Visitors are only allowed to look at them. All in all, this amazing valley constitutes an excellent destination for an excursion. If you get tired, you can have a refreshment drink or lunch in the picturesque taverns with a view to the waterfalls and enjoy the natural beauty!
The biggest waterpark in Europe, Faliraki Water Park is open from May to October. It is a wonderful park equipped with all the amenities and games that children love. Here, you will find various activities and rides such as Kamikaze slides, a Pirate ship just waiting to be explored, wave pools, lazy rivers, black holes and so much more. While you enjoy the water games, experienced lifeguards watch for your safety. The park is open from 9:30 am in the morning till 7 o`clock in the evening. It is found at the beach of Faliraki and there are buses to transport you from Rhodes town to Faliraki and back. There is also a huge parking space outside the water park. Pets are not allowed in the park, which also has snack bars, souvenir shop and showers.