Monday, October 27, 2014

All Roads Lead to Rhodes, Circle Island Tour - September 2014

After 2 days of exploring the Old Town, it was time to explore the rest of the island. On a hunt for a reasonably priced vehicle and after much haggling Just Rent a Car came up with the best rate on this tiny Hyundai Picante.

So off we went on our circle island tour:

Click on this link to view photo album


Kalithea Beach  

Kalithea is known for its beaches, a favorite with locals and tourist.












Kolymbia

We stopped at the Seven Springs or 'Epta Piges' Gorge. This Gorge has seven sparkling springs and a few rivers, which never run out of water. All of them form a lake, which was built by the Italians primarily to irrigate the plains of Kolymbia .  A walk through a  610ft (186m) long dark tunnel takes you to the lake.




















 


 Archipolis

The Village of Archipolis, a mountainous farming village, surrounded by pine and cypress forests is located at the foot of Mount Axintes. At Kryoneri about 2 km away from the village is the Church of Agios Nektarios (Saint Nektarios). In front of this church is a huge plane tree which is said to be 2,500 years old and that the Apostle Paul had preached under its shade.







Tsambika

Our exercise for the day was to head to this interesting monastery way up on the hill. This is the oldest Monastery of Panagia Tsambika, and is believed to be older than 17th century AD. The road leads half way up the hill, then from this point one has to walk up 350 steep and winding steps to the top of the hill. What a climb even with nicely cut steps in place. The views were incredible throughout the climb. On top of the hill is a tiny, Byzantine Church, dedicated to Our Lady. Perched high at 300 m the coastal views, both north over Kolymbia and south over Tsambika beach to Lindos made the climb worthwhile. The legend is that any woman who has problems having children should go up there (barefoot), to pray to the Virgin, she will be blessed with children.

Monastery on Hill

Stairs leading to Monastery
Monastery


 
Chapel


 
View from Church


Looking at Tsambika Beach


Down the hill by the highway is the new Monastery of Panagia Tsambika.

New Monastery w/old Monastery on the hill in the background
Chapel Interior


Stegna

Stegna Beach is 32 km south of Rhodes Town. The beaches here are somewhat secluded, quiet and unspoilt. There are no shopping arcades or bustling nightlife. The long stretch of white sand, shingles, groves of almond and lemon trees line the winding road that leads down to the beach adding to the natural tranquility of this beautiful area. 





We decided to stop here for lunch. After checking out the area we decided on Stegna Kozas. Stegna Kozas is a great restaurant located right on the beach. It has a very unique and creative menu. Their specialty is fish soup. The waiter/owner Dimitris padded over to our table in bare feet and seemed to be quite thrilled at having so many ethnic patrons at his restaurant today. While we were checking out the menu his suggestion was “Look no further, we have the best fish soup in Rhodes”, we had to try it. This was a combination of grouper, salmon and a local fish. He was right, it was absolutely delicious. This came with their unique herb bread topped with sea salt and a small bowl of delicious Tapenade. We also ordered a seafood salad which was very well presented and tasty. What a perfect beach front location. Service was excellent and prompt. A bit pricey but well worth it.



























 We took a quick dip in the ocean in front of the restaurant before heading off to Haraki.

Haraki

Reg was ready for another hike, this time to Feraklos Castle. This castle sits 300m above sea level on a steep and very rocky hill. The climb was quite difficult as it was fairly rough underfoot with no steps to help you along the way. Feraklos was one of the best fortified fortresses of the Knights of St. John. For them, this was a great look-out post from where the enemy ships approaching the island could be closely monitored. Unfortunately, this was the last strongholds of the Knights to fall to the Turks. Now the walls are the only significant remains and the inside is overgrown with shrubs and other vegetation. From here you can enjoy excellent views of Agathi Bay and the small village of Haraki,


Climb to Feraklos Castle

Top of Castle

View of Agathi Bay


Haraki Village


Lindos

Lindos is a small picturesque, Ancient Village built on the side of a steep hill with charming whitewashed houses. The village is situated on a network of cobblestone streets with its Acropolis towering above. The village has many historic houses known as "Captains" houses. Little or no changes can be made to these buildings, many of which have survived since the 15th Century. The landscape all around is barren. For a fee, donkeys carry tourists to the Acropolis, mopeds are the only other mode of transportation allowed on these streets.





Entering Lindos Village

Village Scenes

Donkey rides to Acropolis

























Acropolis of Lindos

The Acropolis of Lindos was built on a rock overlooking Lindos. It is surrounded by well preserved walls built by the Knights to defend the island against the Ottomans. The Acropolis of Lindos is dominated by the massive Temple of Athena Lindia. Most of the ruins date back to the Hellenistic era, the Temple of Athena Lindia was built in the 6th century BC.


Climb to the Acropolis

Base of the Acropolis

Stairs leading to the Acropolis
When you reach the Acropolis you will see a 280 BC relief of a Rhodian Trireme (ancient Greek warship) carved into the rock . At the entrance to the Acropolis there is a Hellenistic Stoa (covered walkway) where there were once underground water storage tanks. On the first level are more recent buildings such as the 13th century Castle of the Knights of St John. There is also a Greek Orthodox Church of St John, built on the ruins of an older church. On the second level to the south are the remains of the 300 BC Doric Temple of Athena Lindia, which was built on the site of an earlier temple. It stands at the highest point of the rock. From this point you see the lower city, where the most important monuments still visible are the Theatre, the Tetrastoon and the Archokrateion at Kambana, a monumental tomb of an important Lindian family. From this position also are breathtaking views of the Aegean and St. Paul's Bay.




Excedra & ship in relief



Temple of Athena

Staircase of the Propylaea







Views of the Aegean & Lindos Beach

Temple of Athena & St. Paul's Bay

St. Paul's Bay

Church of Panagia Lindo

The Church of Panagia Lindos (the main Church of Lindos) is located amongst narrow alley ways and shops. As you enter the courtyard the bell tower is on the left. It was built by the Knights in the 14th century. Every inch of wall space in the chapel is covered with magnificent frescoes depicting Biblical scenes and a Christian imagery of Mary, Jesus and the Saints.

Church of Panagia Lindos

Church of Panagia & Bell Tower
Chapel Frescoes

























Kiotari
 
Close to the town of Pefki lies Kiotari, a peaceful and unspoilt town with lovely beaches and small tavernas. We stopped for lunch at Paralia Petalas, a beachfront restaurant where they serve fresh fish and seafood daily. We had the mussel linguine and the grilled lamb chops. The waiter, a young Estonian lad seriously lacked waitering skills. Overall the food wasn’t bad but the location was great.






 


















Gennardi

Gennardi, a continuation of Kiotari, is an up-and-coming coastal resort with lovely beaches  and colourful villas dotted here and there. The Village of Gennadi is a small agricultural settlement with traditional little white houses with coloured doors and shutters.















 
Church of Gennardi
 



















Praisonisi

Praisonisi is small wind haven located at the southern most point of the island. It is one of the most impressive beaches on the island. Two sandy coves end in an island that you can reach on foot or by swimming, depending on the weather and the level of the water. This is a world-renowned paradise for surfers, kitesurfers and windsurfers especially in July and August. During the summer months the two seas, the Mediterranean and the Aegean, part and a sandy isthmus (1,000 metres in length) separates the wavy waters of the Aegean from the dead calm flat waters of the Mediterranean. During winter months, when water levels are high enough, Prasonisi becomes an island.









Monolithos

A Medieval  Castle sits on the summit of a sheer, rocky outcrop that is 236m high, this is the Castle of Monolithos. Monolithos means lonely rock.  It was built in 1480 on the foundations of another older castle under the orders of the Grand Master D’Aubusson. Access to the castle is by a staircase cut into the rock. This castle/fort along with three others including Lindos was considered the most important of all the fortifications built on Rhodes. From here the Knights had a clear view over a strategically significant section of the Mediterranean. Only a few sections of this fort has been preserved, one being the small Chapel dedicated to Agios Panteleimon (Saint Pantaleon). From the top of this rock are breathtaking views of the sea, Akramytis Mountain and a couple of islets in the background. On the climb up to the top, you will also see hundreds of small cairns or Inukshuks. The significance of these little cairns/Inukshuks is not known.


Monolithos Castle






Agios Panteleimon












Chapel





Cairns/Inukshuks

Sianna

Sianna, said to be one of the most beautiful and picturesque mountain villages on the Island of Rhodes is situated at an altitude of 450 metres at the foot of Mt. Akramitis (825m high), which is the second highest mountain on the island. Sianna is famous for its best export quality thyme-infused honey as well as its infamous ‘Souma’, the fiery local spirit. The Church of Saint Panteleimon, a 19th century Church dominates the centre of this picturesque village.





























Kritinia

Kritinia is another small picturesque, farming village with a population of about 600 people. Its main attraction, the Castle of Kritinia, named Kastellos  located just outside the village stands proudly on top of a pine clad hill with breathtaking views of the Aegean Sea. This is a Medieval Castle built in the 16th Century with Byzantine and Venetian architecture. Due to its strategic location, that allowed a 360 degree view of the sea, this site was chosen by the Knights of the Order of St. John to protect the western side of the island.




Kastellos



Eleousa

Eleousa is a tiny village set in the middle of a lush green forest. It used to be an Italian settlement . Eleousa is known for its tavernas which serve true Greek cuisine. We stopped for lunch here at Steki’s Restaurant. This was a friendly, family operated establishment.


 Italian buildings on the west side of the village square
Agia Eleousa Church



Steki Restaurant
 



















Empona

Empona is built on the foothills of Mt. Attavyros, the highest mountain in Rhodes. Empona is a traditional farming village and wine producing area. There seems to be an abundance of folklore in the village. It is a lively village with tavernas, shops with colourful hand woven rugs, wine & honey stores and various other shops. Emery Winery, the largest in the village was not open when we were there. We took a look at Stayflos Wines and their traditional Ouzo making equipment.


 



















 











Stayflos Winery


Ouzo making equipment
Emery winery



Filerimos

Mt. Filerimos is located 15 km from Rhodes. The Monastery of Filerimos is on a hill 267 m high, overlooking the small town of Ialyssos and the Bays of Ixia and Trianda. This was once the site of the Acropolis of the Ancient Town of Ialyssos. In Byzantine and Knight’s periods, the hill was used as a fortress and in the 13th century the Monastery of the Virgin Mary was built here. A wide stone staircase, with tall cypress trees on both sides leads to the monastery.  This monastery has been occupied by monks continuously for at least 16 centuries. Nearby are the foundations of the Temple of Zeus and Athena Polias from the 2nd -3rd Centuries BC, a Doric fountain, Byzantine fortifications and other historical monuments.

Along the opposite side of the Monastery is the Path of Golgotha or the Path of Calvary, and the 14 Stations of the Cross on brass plaques mark the various events that happened along the way to the hill. This pathway also leads to an enormous 18m tall concrete cross. From here are breathtaking views of Rhodes Island and Mt. Attavyros, the highest mountain in Rhodes. The tiny aisle-less church near the cross apparently also belongs to the 15th Century Byzantine period. 





Monastery of Filerimos
























Fortifications & other historical monuments on the grounds


Path to Calvary


One of the Stations of the Cross
18 m Concrete Cross







Church of Ai-Yorgis Chosto


View from Byzantine Church site

Views from Concrete Cross





Theologos

East of the Village of Theologos is the Petaloudes Valley (Valley of the Butterflies). During August, thousands of Jersey Moths overwhelm the valley in order to reproduce. These moths are attracted by the scent of the Oriental Sweetgum trees that cover the entire landscape. The valley’s microclimate with its exceptional flora, creates the ideal environment for a large population of caterpillars that live on the trees and feed from the tender leaves. In June, the caterpillars are transformed into beautiful moths. They mate during the last weeks of August and in September most females then fly away from the valley. In the valley is also a Museum of Natural History with extensive information about the flora and fauna in this reserve. There is also a hatchery where a number of butterflies reproduce in a protected area under ideal conditions. One can enjoy a peaceful walk over wooden bridges, narrow pebbly pathways, through a shaded, green valley with small rivers filled with water lilies and beautiful waterfalls. A stone stairway will lead you to the Monastery of Virgin Kalopetra (Virgin of Kalopetra) which was built in 1780 by Alexandros Ypsilantis, a Greek prince (ruler of Wallachia and Moldavia) during his exile in Rhodes.









Theologos Town
Monastery of PanagiĆ  Kalopetra






















Kamiros

Kamiros, the third of the island's Ancient Cities lies on the north-western shores of Rhodes, close to the promontory of Agios Minas (Ancient Mylantio). Kamiros was one of the three largest, powerful 5th century BC Doric cities of the island. The other two being Ialyssos and Lindos. Kamiros is often called the “Pompeii of Rhodes”.  It was the first city on the Island of Rhodes to introduce its own coins. This Ancient City was built on three levels. At the top of the hill was the Acropolis, with the Temple of Athena Kameiras and the Stoa. A covered reservoir/cistern with a capacity of 600 cubic meters of water which supplied up to 400 families was constructed about the 6th Century BC. The main settlement was on the middle terrace, consisting of a grid of parallel streets and residential blocks. On the lower terrace is the Doric Temple dedicate to Apollo; the Fountain House, and the Agora (ruins of a market building); a Sanctuary and Bath Houses. From this site are stunning views of Halki and other little islets off Rhodes.


Doric Temple

Stairs leading to the upper level

houses on central street


Temple of Athena


Bath houses

Cistern


Sanctuary of the Gods


Ancient Kamiros Site




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