the Island of the Knights

“In the serene weather of the tropics it is exceedingly pleasant—the mast-head; nay, to a dreamy meditative man it is delightful. There you stand, a hundred feet above the silent decks, striding along the deep, as if the masts were gigantic stilts, while beneath you and between your legs, as it were, swim the hugest monsters of the sea, even as ships once sailed between the boots of the famous Colossus at old Rhodes.” 

Herman Melville,
Moby-Dick or The Whale

Day 1: Welcome in Rhodes!

 Geia sas! Welcome in Greece and particularly in Rhodes, the capital of Dodecanese and 4th biggest island in Greece. According to the tradition, the island is said to have taken its name from the rose (in Greek “rodon”), sacred flower for the God of the Sun. Rhodes is also one of the few Greek islands with such diversity in landscapes; long sandy beaches, mountains filled with lush vegetation, deeply incised valleys waiting for us to explore them… Thanks to its strategic position, the island has been important since ancient times, but is known as the “the Island of the Knights”, because in 1309 the Knights of Saint John of Jerusalem conquered the island, built castles and made it an important, medieval administrative city of the Mediterranean Sea. Transfer from “Diagoras” InternationalAirport of Rhodes to our booked hotel in the Town of Rhodes for 7 overnights stays.

Day 2: All through the Town of Rhodes

The Town of Rhodes and capital of the island is located at its northernmost tip. The first actual day of our tour will be devoted to it. We take a panorama drive through the city of Rhodes to the port of Mandraki, the ancient acropolis on the hill of Monte Smith and the ancient stadium. No other European city has such a great heritage dating back to the medieval times as Rhodes. The old city part (dating back to the medieval times and included in the list of the UNESCO World Heritage) is so colorful and lively that combines perfectly the old history of princesses and knights with the modern way of life. During our tour in the old city part, we will walk through stone-paved paths along the fortification and admire the fine medieval architecture of city gates, arcades, squares, fountains and little houses. The Turkish and Jewish Quarters, the churches from the early Christian times as well as the ruins of ancient temples are the proof that the town combines the Oriental with the Western World.
The route from the port of Mandraki through the majestic city walls and the Street of the Knights leads us to the one of the most famous sites in the city, the astonishing Grand Master’s Palace. We visit the ArchaeologicalMuseum situated in the old Hospital of the Knights. Walking by the Mosque of Suleiman, we reach the church of Agios Georgios from the 14th century. The rest of the evening stands at our own disposal; let’s stroll through the streets of the town or visit the wonderful bazaars for some souvenirs!

Day 3: By Boat to the Neighboring Island of Symi

Morning transfer to the port of Mandraki, from where we will take the boat to Rhodes’ close neighbor, Symi, known for its sponge divers. Symi is a picturesque island about 2 hours away from Rhodes and one of the mostly visited ones in Greece. Arrival by boat at Yialos, the small harbor of Symi. First stop of our tour: the monastery of Panormitis. The 18th century monastery of Symi’s patron, Taxiarchis Michael Panormitis, is a place of pilgrimage for the Greek sailors. We will visit the inner courtyards of the monastery, the wealthily-decorated church and the monastery’s museum. Drive back to the Town of Symi: we take a walk and visit the famous Sponge Centre, where we learn a lot about the natural sponges as well as take some back home with us! Pastel-colored houses, narrow streets, numerous churches and monasteries, harbor taverns by the sea and small, cute shops create a wonderful, picturesque Greek scenery. Before meeting at the port, we will have some time for individual explorations. Return back to Rhodes and drive to our booked hotel.

Day 4: Hanging on to the North

Not too far away from the Town of Rhodes, MountFilerimos is situated. The top of the mountain (260 m) will offer us the most wonderful view of the island. A winding road will lead us to the place, in a relatively wide plateau, where the Monastery of Filerimos is located. When Christianity first grew its roots in Greece (before being spread around the world), many of the ancient cult sanctuaries were transformed into churches. At that time the temple was converted into an early Christian three-aisled basilica dedicated to Virgin Mary. The church is well known ever since for housing the icon of the Virgin of Filerimos. Under the rule of the Knights of St. John a Monastery was built. When the island came into the possession of the Ottoman Turks, the icon was taken by the Knights to France and from there to Italy, then Malta and Russia, where it stayed until the revolution of 1917. Since 2002, it has been kept in the Blue Chapel of the National Museum of Montenegro.
In a wonderful landscape we find the ruins of Ancient Ialyssos, one of the three city states of Rhodes founded by the Dorians – Lindos and Kamiros are also among them. Further drive along the coastal road to the unfortified ancient city of Kamiros, which dates back to the Hellenistic Period and was destroyed due to an earthquake. Its ruins are almost entirely excavated. You will be impressed by the acropolis, the temples, the market-place and the residential sites that are quite well preserved.
Last stop of the day: the ButterflyValley, a phenomenon of nature. Between June and September, hundreds of thousands of butterflies fly through the 1-kilometer-long and narrow wooded gorge. We will walk along the brooks and cross the waterfall.

Day 5: Free Day!

Today we will have free time for some rest, walks, sightseeing or shopping in the Town of Rhodes!

Day 6: To the West

At the western part of the island we find the amphitheatrically built village of Kritinia which offers astonishing view. Its Castle, the majestic Kastellos, is a Venetian Castle built in the 16th century AD. Further drive to the Cape of Monolithos for a photo shooting break. The rock is rising from the sea and crowned by the ruins of a former castle of the knights. Next stop of the day will be a wonderful area near Mesanagros where the Monastery of Skiadi (dating back to the 13th century) is located. We drive further to the bottom of the highest mountain, Attaviros, where the village of Embonas is situated, a place famous for its wines. Optional is a visit to a small winery of the area, so as to taste the local wines. Driving in the direction of Mount Profitis Ilias, we reach the small Byzantine church of Agios Nikolaos in Fountoukli area, decorated with wonderful and precious frescos.

Day 7: To the South

Today we will get to know the multifarious landscapes of the island, the traditions and customs of the Rhodians through a trip to the South. Driving along the east coast of the island, we reach the village of Asklipion, an ancient colony. Some ruins of castle walls since the times of the knights have survived, with frescos at the west gate dating back to 1060. Narrow streets and smaller paths will lead us to the village area, where the church dedicated to the Assumption of Virgin Mary (“Koimisi tis Theotokou”) is located. The church was built in the 13th century and it is known for the magnificent frescos of the interior as well as for its fine architecture. At the folklore museum nearby we will learn a lot about the traditions of the island and from the top of the medieval castle we will enjoy the breathtaking view of the coast.
Further drive to Lindos, which is beyond any doubt the most beautiful and famous village of Rhodes. Above the modern city of Lindos rises its famous acropolis, dedicated to the goddess of Athena Lindia. The acropolis offers us a spectacular view of the Saint Pauls’ bay, where Apostle Paul landed and prayed in the year 58 AD. The walls of the castle seen below the acropolis were built by the crusaders. During our walk through the narrow and crooked lanes of the village we will pass by picturesque white houses in cubical style and small traditional shops. Here we will visit the church of St. Mary, a masterpiece of the knights of St. John. On our way back to the Town, we make a last stop at the valley of the Seven Springs to admire the astonishing beauty of nature and the protected biotope.  

Day 8: Flight back Home

Our tour is unfortunately over. According to itinerary, transfer to “Diagoras” International Airport of Rhodes. Flight back home.

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