Rhodes, Island of Roses
Rhodes is one of the most popular Greek Islands as well as one of the biggest. It is part of the Dodecanese archipelago and offers a fabulous combination of interesting historic sites, attractive beaches and a fantastic sunny climate. Its fertile soil has given rise to an abundance of rock roses, which lends it its nickname as the 'Island of Roses.' This is an island that offers something for everyone; the northern coast consists of lively resorts offering an abundance of entertainment including nightclubs, bars and restaurants. The southern coast is much more peaceful with quiet, sandy beaches and a more traditional way of life.
Diagoras International Airport, 14 km from Rhodes town serves the island offering a variety of charter and scheduled flights to numerous destinations in Europe. Rhodes can also be reached by ferries from the Turkish ports at Marmaris, Bodrum and Fethiye. There is a car ferry and catamaran service operating daily (except Sundays), which takes an hour and costs around 52 Euros for a same day return ticket. The hydrofoil from Bodrum takes 135 minutes at a cost of around 48 Euros. The hydrofoil from Fethiye only operates throughout the tourist season and takes 90 minutes at a cost of around 60 Euros. The island also has a reliable and effective bus service as well as numerous taxis, which are a little different in looks to the conventional yellow cab – in Rhodes they have white roofs and a dark blue body. Car rental is also an option but many people opt to travel round the island on a motorbike or moped and in Rhodes town where the streets are narrow this is the better option.
A Dip Back in Time
Rhodes has a rich, diverse history dating back to the Neolithic era. Archeologists have found much evidence of Bronze Age colonies. The Greek poet Homer mentioned three of the island’s towns, Kameiros, Lindos and Ialysos, which eventually merged together to for the capital known as Rhodes town. In 305 BC Demetrios Poliokertes stormed the city after a prolonged battle. During the Hellenistic period, Rhodes prospered and was one of Greece’s most important centres for trade and culture. Under the Roman Empire its significance declined although it a key centre for Christianity. When the Byzantine Empire controlled the island in the 7th century it was somewhat neglected, but all of this changed with the subsequent rule of the Venetians, Genoese and the Knights of Saint John. Each left their mark in terms of rebuilding Rhodes’ prosperity and creating a wonderful architectural legacy. In 1523, like so much of the Balkans, it was captured by Suleyman the Magnificent and united with the Ottoman Empire.
Rhodes offers far more than beautiful beaches although these are well worth checking out if relaxation is a priority. Rhodes old town is a UNESCO World Heritage site believed to contain some of the best preserved medieval architecture in Europe. The Rhodes Archaeological Museum located in the old town offers guided tours of the city walls, which are well worth experiencing because the views from the walls are spectacular and provide an impression of the size and beauty of this city. The museum also contains some interesting relics of bygone days found on the island. Within the old town, make sure you visit the Street of Knights and the Palace of the Prince Grand Master as well as the old fortifications.
A drive over to the east side of the island also makes a great day out. This area is home to the Castle of Monolithos. It lies behind the village of Apollakia on a 240 m high rock offering impressive views over to the west coast and to the Castle of Kalki in the North West. The Valley of the Butterflies 27 km from Rhodes town and 5 km to the south east of Theologos is an interesting day trip where you can see the colourful the Petaloudes "butterflies." In fact they are not really butterflies but beautifully coloured moths. The best time to visit is during August when the butterflies com to this area to reproduce.
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