Greek Guide


Rhodes Tours Tourist Attractions Day Trips Greece Greek Travel Guide

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Besides its many excellent beaches Rhodes has a wealth of fascinating sights to see and places to visit if you're looking for more out of your holiday here than sun, sea and sand. The heart of the capital is a beautifully preserved medieval town enclosed within massive walls an extraordinary living museum which attracts around one million visitors a year. There are other ancient sites to explore around the island, many unspoilt mountain villages and monasteries and the ever popular Butterfly Valley where tourists sometimes seem to outnumber the colourful creatures they come to see.

Start with a visit to the old quarter of Rhodes Town go early in the morning if you're visiting in high season and want to avoid the masses that daily descend on the delightful labyrinthine streets of this 14th century citadel. You enter via one of the 11 surviving gateways of the fortified town which is dominated by the magnificent Palace of the Grand Masters. The palace was the nerve centre of the Knights of St John who conquered the Rhodians in 1306 and ruled here for 200 years before being ousted by the Turks. It managed to survive sieges and earthquakes only to be destroyed by an ammunition depot explosion in 1856. The Italians rebuilt the palace in grandiose style as a summer retreat for the dictator Mussolini and the Italian King Victor Emmanuel III (neither of whom ever visited Rhodes).

Leading off the south east corner of the palace is the impressive Street of the Knights lined with the various inns of the knights who were divided into seven "tongues" or divisions according to their nationality. Each tongue was responsible for protecting a different section of the city wall. The nearby Archaeological Museum is in a building which was once the Knights' Hospital it contains painted pottery from the 6th and 7th centuries BC and the famous Aphrodite of Rhodes statue dating back to the 1 st century BC.

The old town of Rhodes also has a Jewish quarter with a still active mosque where there's a commemorative plaque honouring the many who were sent from the island to their deaths at Auschwitz. The third area of the town is the Turkish quarter dominated by the rather startling pink domed Suleiman Mosque. Turkish legacies here include the still functioning Turkish "Hammam" baths.

The second major star attraction on Rhodes is the ancient settlement of Lindos, 47 kilometres south of the capital. The town consists of some beautiful 15th to 18th century sea captain's mansions built around courtyards of pebble mosaics. Above it looms the ancient acropolis with the ruins of a temple dedicated to the goddess Athena (originally built around 1100 BC and rebuilt in the 6th century BC).

At the site of the ancient city of Ialysos, 10 kilometres south west of Rhodes, you can see the remains of a 3rd century BC temple. Kamiros, further down the west coast, was one of the three great cities (along with Lindos and Ialysos) which united in the 5th century BC to form the powerful city state of Rhodes. This beautiful hillside site contains the remains of two temples and a 3rd century BC colonnade.

One of the most popular tourist spots on the island is the Valley of the Butterflies at Petaloudes 2.5 kilometres south of Paradisi airport. The "butterflies" are actually thousands of brightly coloured tiger moths which swarm all over this valley attracted by the resin of the local styrax trees.