With its famous archeological ruins and pretty beaches, Rhodes is one of the top tourist destinations in Europe. This is perhaps as it should be as it’s the largest of Greece’s Dodecanese Islands. The island is probably most famous for the Colossus of Rhodes, a statue of the Greek sun god Helios that was destroyed by an earthquake in 226 BC. Rhodes gives travelers a unique opportunity to explore ancient temple ruins and then chill out on a beautiful sandy beach while contemplating the marvels of an earlier world. An overview of the top attractions in Rhodes:
Mandraki Harbor is one of three harbors on Rhodes and the only yacht harbor. It is thought one of the Seven Wonders of the World, the statue Colossus of Rhodes once stood in this harbor. Travelers today will find deer sculptures, medieval windmills and the St. Nicholas fortress at the entrance. The windmills were once used to grind grain brought to the harbor by ancient cargo ships; most have disintegrated, but three have been renovated. Mandraki Harbor was once the military port for Rhodes and could be closed by chains. Now yachts, cruise ships and fishing boats share the harbor.
Kamiros is an ancient city on the northwest coast of Rhodes. Kamiros is one of three Doric cities that combined with two others to form the city-state of Rhodes. Its residents, however, gradually abandoned Kamiros to move to the city of Rhodes. Mentioned by Homer in his writings, forests covered the city until ancient graves were discovered in 1929 and an excavation of Kamiros began. Archaeologists believe a temple to Athena topped the Acropolis, but it was destroyed in a 226 BC earthquake. The city was built on three levels: the Acropolis on top, residents in the middle, and water reservoirs on the bottom.
Anthony Quinn may have been from Mexico, but he filmed several movies in Greece, including Zorba the Greek and Guns of the Navarone, which was filmed at Faliraki. While there, the actor bought the bay part of the island. Because of this, the bay was renamed from Vagies Bay to Anthony Quinn Bay, which is just over a mile from Faliraki. Because of its rock surroundings and crystal clear emerald water, it’s considered one of the most beautiful beaches on Rhodes. The bay is a popular mooring spot for sail boats and small watercraft.
Travelers looking for tremendous scenic views in a religious setting may enjoy a visit to Tsambika Monastery that is situated on a hill. The hill, about 25 km (15 miles) from Rhodes city, is topped by a small Byzantine church dedicated to Our Lady. A local legend says if an infertile woman climbs the hill she will be blessed with a child, which must be named after the monastery. The legend must be true since many island residents answer to this name. Origins of the first monastery are unclear, but a working monastery was constructed in 1770.
Travelers who are party animals are likely to gravitate to Faliraki beach, the most popular seaside resort on Rhodes. By day, visitors laze under colorful striped umbrellas on the beach; by night, they find entertainment under brightly colored neon lights. From shopping to bungee-jumping, Faliraki beach has it all. Faliraki also is home to the largest water park in Europe where visitors can do down a variety of slides; the park has a special section for children. Visitors can enjoy themselves under safe conditions, since Faliraki beach has 12 Blue Flags from the Foundation for Environmental Education with its strict safely standards.
Located 50 km (31 miles) south of Rhodes city, Lindos is a popular tourist destination because of its ancient ruins and great beaches. With a history that dates back to the 10th century BC, Lindos was once a meeting place for the Greeks and Phoenicians, and later became a major trading center. It once had a large temple complex that fell into disuse during the early medieval period; it is an important archaeological site today. The beach itself is a busy place, with many British residents spending entire summers here. The deep blue bay waters make Lindos Beach an especially pretty tourist attraction in Rhodes.
At one time, Monolithos Castle was considered one of the most powerful fortresses on Rhodes. Built in 1470, not much of the castle remains today save the external walls. One thing that does remain, however, is the stupendous view at the top of the hill that overlooks the sea. In order to enjoy the view, hardy visitors will have to climb up via small steep stone steps; the climb is strenuous, so past visitors recommend frequent breaks to rest. Inside the castle that was built on a former castle, travelers will find two 15th century chapels.
Tsambika Beach is considered one of the most beautiful beaches on Rhodes. It’s hard to dispute that: Turquoise blue waters lap on the half-mile of pure golden sand beach. Owned by the Orthodox church, Tsambika Beach is overlooked by a peak where stands the Tsambika Monastery. Because the water is shallow and sandy, the beach is considered a good place for families to have fun in the sun, either lying under an umbrella or participating in water sports. A section of the beach is set aside for visitors who prefer to go au naturel.
Since it was occupied by so many forces, from the Greeks to the Ottomans, the Acropolis of Lindos is an interesting site archaeologically. It’s also a scenic site since it sits on a 115-meter (380-foot) high rock overlooking the sea. Access is by a steep hike up a footpath, but worth the trip. Once at the top, visitors will find a well preserved Acropolis enclosed by battlements, 20 white Hellenistic columns and remains of the temple to Athena Lindia. There’s no shade at the top, so visitors may want to wear hats and take along water to drink.
Occupiers over the centuries have left their stamp on the Medieval Town of Rhodes, which dates back hundreds of years before the birth of Christ. The conquerors that had the most influence over this ancient city were the Order of the Knights of Saint Jon or Jerusalem that occupied Rhodes from 1308 to 1523. The Palace of the Grand Masters which functioned as their headquarters is one of the greatest monuments erected in the Middle Ages. The Upper Town, with its Street of the Knights and 4 km (2.5 mile) long wall, is considered a very beautiful example of Gothic architecture The Lower Town features embellishments such as mosques and public baths that were added by the Ottomans. By foot is the best way to explore this gems.