Of all the Greek islands Rhodes is possibly the most blessed… by the Gods with its rich mythology and history and by nature with its outstanding natural beauty, bathed in sunlight and washed by crystal clear waters.
The island of Rhodes is the capital of the Dodecanese group which includes some 200 smaller islands situated to the southeast of mainland Greece, very close to the coast of Turkey. Its location, at the crossroads of three continents, Europe, Asia and Africa, has played a vital role in its economic and cultural development over the ages, its action-packed history proof of Rhodes’ importance since prehistoric times.
Its history, however, goes back beyond any known archives, back to a time of gods and goddesses, giants and nymphs.
Mythology has it that when Zeus took over the Olympus throne he decided to divide the earth up amongst the other gods. Helios, the sun god, was forgotten and later a distraught Zeus asked what he could do to make up for his omission. The Sun God apparently knew of an island just emerging off the coast of Asia Minor that would suit him fine. Zeus gave it to him and Helios found his new home which he has bathed in sunlight ever since!
Rhodes written history is so long, so rich and intriguing that it is difficult to imagine such a relaxed and stunning place being the site of centuries of wars and bloody battles.
The island has been sought after, fought over, wrecked and rebuilt by many tribes, plundering pirates, exceptional fighters, and a host of different nationalities who feature in a tale of intrigue, adventure and heroism.
Rhodes boasted one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. Its gigantic Colossus, symbol for the island, was built in celebration of the locals’ victory after a particularly difficult battle against the mighty Besieger Dimitrios. The statue, dedicated to the Sun God, was the work of the famous Lindian sculptor Chares. It was considered a constructural and artistic masterpiece that took 12 years to complete. Very few details, however, remain of its location and form. An inscription tells us that it stood some 31m; its exact location is not known but many have the huge statue straddling the entrance to Rhodes’ Mandrake harbour.
The Colossus stood for 60 years, falling to a devastating earthquake in 226BC. Legend has it that Helios had never liked the statue and forbade any attempt at its restoration. The Rhodians, fearing the wrath of the gods, made no attempt to rebuild it and the Colossus lay in ruins for 900 years until Arab pirates seized Rhodes in 653. They hauled the broken pieces off for sale to a Jewish merchant and the Colossus was lost forever!
Rhodes is no newcomer to tourism. Its name is known and recognized worldwide with tourist services and facilities of international standards. Besides its natural beauties the island boasts many outstanding archaeological sites, the Lindos acropolis, Ancient Kamiros, castles, monasteries, museums, traditional buildings and villages.
Rhodes town, the dazzling capital of Rhodes Island, is a modern cosmopolitan centre that attracts thousands of foreign visitors every year.
The town has it all – a combination of old and new in a picture book setting, sunshine and cloudless skies all summer, stunning beaches and crystal clear water, first class tourist services and facilities, and a story that goes way back….
Its walled medieval town (Palia Poli in Greek), a World Heritage town with stunning palace and Street of the Knights, tempting tourist shops set along cobbled streets, is a living monument to the island’s past. This town within a town is unique and has an atmosphere all of its own.
The glory of ancient Rhodes can be found in the timeless setting beyond the stone walls where the remains of the Rhodes acropolis and its fine stadium have their own tales to tell.
Rhodes offers a staggering range of shops to tempt its visitors and suit everyone’s tastes and wallets ands. The choice of coffee shops, tavernas and restaurants is just as varied with Greek and international restaurants, fish tavernas, ouzerias and fast food all available.
There is however something else that sets Rhodes apart from the other islands. It has something to do with its tourist industry and its cosmopolitan nature but also has much to do with its locals and their way of life. Its present day population and young Rhodians represent a multi lingual melting pot of nationalities, cultures and ideas, a blend of old and new. The island has maintained its traditions and customs, it has kept its roots but it is always looking forward.
Rhodes welcomes thousands of holidaymakers every year and many areas of the island have developed and changed through tourism. The Rhodian heart however remains the same.
There is simply no other place like it!