The largest of the Dodecanese, Rhodes (or Rodos) has become an important regional centre, thanks to its location, climate and natural attractions.
It is known as the Isle of the Sun. The capital, also called Rhodes, occupies the northernmost tip of the all over the island. There are actually three cities on this site - modern, ancient and mediaeval.
The modern town has a cosmopolitan character, many late 20th century buildings and hotels. The ancient town, which was founded in 408 B.C. according to plans by Hippodamos of Milesios (the first town planner), started from Monte Smith hill where the acropolis stood and extended as far as what is now the mediaeval city. All that is left of it today is the ruins of the temples of Zeus, Athena Poliados and Apollo, the Stadium, Gymnasium and the Theatre, which has been restored.
The medieval town( the Old Town) is surrounded by medieval walls with seven gates. If you visit is you may have the chance to admire the Palace of the Grand Master. Take a romantic stroll around the famous Street of the Knights and feel as a Knight or a Princess.
Also visit Mandraki, the ancient harbour, and while walking admire the National Theatre, the Courts, the City Hall and the Governor’s Palace. Rhodes has many natural beauties to offer such as the Seven Springs, the Valley of the Butterflies and Rodini Park, a green valley with running waters, small bridges and many peacocks. It is also worth visiting the ancient cities of Lindos and Ialissos as well as Ancient Kamiros. Especially Lindos is a must- see place since the contrast between the brilliant white houses and winding lanes of the more recent village built around two crescent beaches and the ancient acropolis towering above it from its austere pinnacle makes for one of the most stunning views in Greece.
Pindar mentions in one of his Odes that it was born of the union of Helios the sun god and the nymph Rhoda. In antiquity it also bore the names Aithraia, Ophiousa and Telchinis. It was first inhabited in the Neolithic era. A major milestone in the island's history, which affected the fate of the other Dodecanese as well, was the founding in 700 B.C. of the Dorian Hexapolis, a union of its three cities with Knidos, Halikarnassos and Kos. Its economy and culture continued to flourish until the 3rd century B.C., when it was the predominant power in the Aegean. When, a thousand years later in 1309, it fell into the hands of the Knights of St. John, it became again the centre of power, symbolised by its magnificent mediaeval town and the imposing castle and palace of the Grand Masters. The island.s terrain is in large part fertile with a great variety of vegetation; its highest mountain is Atavyros (1,215 m. asl) in the southwest.
The mediaeval city is still surrounded by the high walls erected by the Knights. It is divided by an inner wall into two unequal parts, the smaller Collachio and the larger Burgo or Hora. Collachio is further split by the Street of the Knights, both of whose sides are lined with the sombre stone façades of the Inns of the Tongues or nationalities that belonged to the order of the Knights Hospitalers of St. John. At the end of the street stands the palace of the Grand Masters, which today houses a collection of 16th and 17th century furniture and Roman mosaic floors from Kos. The Hospital of the Knights, another of the town.s most magnificent buildings, has been converted into the Archaeological Museum. Burgo-Hora lies to the south of Collachio; its walls once enclosed the humbler residences, the marketplace, the Synagogue and Jewish quarter, Orthodox and Catholic churches, public buildings and army barracks.
The island abounds in lovely and interesting places to visit, such as the Valley of the Butterflies; the village of Trianda near the site of ancient lalyssos (lalissos) on the top of Filerimos hill, where the 15th century monastery of the same name also stands, along with the ruined temples of Athena and Zeus Poliea in the ancient acropolis; Kameiros (Kamiros) and the ruins of the Dorian city; Kalithea with its thermal baths; Koskinou, Afandou, Faliraki and Rodini. But above all don't miss Lindos.
The temple of Athena Lindia (4th century B.C.) coming gradually into view as you ascend the stairs is a sight never to be forgotten.
Useful Telephone Numbers:
Port Authority: 22410 27695-28666, 22410 23693
Tourist Police: 22410 27423
Municipality: 22410 46200
First Aid: 22410 80000