Best Thing to Do in Rhodes

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Best Things to Do in Rhodes - 2023 Guide

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Rhodes is renowned as one of the most stunning and sought-after Greek islands. Its medieval sites, breathtaking vistas, and pristine beaches have bestowed it with global acclaim, drawing innumerable visitors each year.

The Old Town of Rhodes takes center stage, boasting the illustrious Palace of the Grand Master, the enchanting Street of the Knights, the historic port of Mandraki, and the captivating Hippocrates Square. 

Exploring further afield reveals a plethora of other captivating sites, including the Lindos Acropolis, the serene Monastery of Filerimos, the rejuvenating Springs of Kallithea, and a host of castles peppered across the island. 

Of course, let’s not forget Rhodes’ bevy of beautiful beaches, such as Tsambika, Ladiko, Kallithea, Saint Paul’s Bay, and many more. Below, you’ll find a curated list of Rhodes’ finest attractions, encompassing ancient sites, museums, churches, castles, and beyond.

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Palace of Grand Master

The Palace of the Grand Masters in Rhodes is a remarkable historical site located at the end of the Street of the Knights in Rhodes. 

Originally constructed on the foundations of the Temple of the Sun God (Helios), which held great significance in ancient Rhodes, this palace served as the residence of the governor and the administrative center during medieval times. Built in the 14th century by the Knights of Saint John, it stands out with its spherical towers and arched gate.

Once an enormous structure, the palace boasted 158 rooms, though only 24 are accessible to visitors today. These rooms showcase antique furniture from the 16th and 17th centuries, exquisite multi-colored marbles, sculptures, carpets, and elegant Oriental vases. 

The first floor houses the official rooms and the private quarters of the Grand Master, while the ground floor accommodates auxiliary rooms. Among the most notable spaces are the Grand Reception Hall, the Waiting Room, and the Music Room. Not to be missed is the captivating Medusa Mosaic.

The palace is adorned with frescoes by renowned artists such as P. Gaudenzi and F. Vellan, as well as mosaic floors featuring ancient Roman and Byzantine art. Additionally, the interior courtyard is embellished with numerous statues from the Greek and Roman periods.

Regrettably, this magnificent building suffered extensive damage in 1856 when explosives, hidden in the basement of the church of Saint John, caused significant destruction. In the early 20th century, the palace was restored by the Italians who occupied the Dodecanese islands at that time. 

It subsequently served as a holiday residence for King Victor Emmanuel III of Italy and Benito Mussolini. Today, it is under the ownership of the Greek State and houses an intriguing museum. Furthermore, the palace frequently hosts various exhibitions and performances in its grand rooms.

Street of the Knights

The Street of The Knights, known as “Odos Ippoton” in Greek, is a captivating historic site nestled within the Old Town of Rhodes. This well-preserved medieval street, stretching 600 meters, offers visitors a delightful journey into the past. It is a cherished destination for leisurely strolls.

Originally, this stone-paved street replaced an ancient road connecting the town to the Acropolis of Rhodes. Starting at the Hospital of the Knights, meandering along its path will eventually lead you to the majestic Palace of the Grand Magister. Many guided tours include a delightful walk along this street, combining it with visits to other notable monuments in the vicinity.

Along the street, you’ll encounter charming inns that date back to the 15th and 16th centuries, adding to the allure of this enchanting location.

Acropolis of Lindos

 The ancient town of Lindos, located 45 km south of Rhodes Town, was established by the Dorians in the 10th century B.C. By the 8th century, it had become a thriving trading hub due to its strategic position between Greece and the Middle East. However, its decline began with the founding of the city of Rhodes in the 5th century.

The archaeological remains discovered within and around the Acropolis of Lindos offer a glimpse into the former prosperity of this ancient town. 

Among its notable monuments is a magnificent Doric temple from the 4th century dedicated to Athena Lindia, where worshippers once made offerings and sacrifices to their patron goddess. This temple was constructed on the foundations of its predecessor.

The Propylaea, consisting of a staircase and five door openings, serve as the gateway to the Sanctuary. At the base of the staircase, you can admire a relief depicting an ancient warship known as a trireme. Additionally, there is a Roman temple dedicated to Emperor Diocletian and a Hellenistic wall that encloses the Acropolis.

These ancient sites are safeguarded by a Medieval Castle, erected in the early 14th century by the Knights of St John. Two of the castle’s towers remain remarkably well-preserved to this day. Outside the castle, on the southwest side of the hill, there once stood an ancient theater. 

Today, only a few rows of seats and part of the auditorium remain as testament to its grandeur. It is estimated that the theater could accommodate an audience of 1,800.

Excavations at the archaeological site of Lindos commenced in the early 20th century. During the Italian occupation of Rhodes from 1912 to 1945, attempts were made to restore the ancient findings, inadvertently causing some damage.

 Presently, the site is under the protection of the Greek Ministry of Culture, and extensive efforts are being made by Greek and foreign archaeologists alike to preserve this remarkable monument.

Monastery of Filerimos

Situated atop a hill above Ialyssos, approximately 10 km from Rhodes Town, rests the Monastery of Panagia Filerimos. Unlike the typical Greek monasteries, this architectural masterpiece was crafted in a Gothic style using stone. Its construction took place on the grounds of a former Byzantine monastery, lending it a unique charm.

During the 15th century, the Knights of Saint John, victorious in their conquest of the island, undertook the monastery’s construction. Within its walls resided a sacred icon of the Virgin Mary, believed to have been brought from Jerusalem.

 However, when the Ottomans seized control of Rhodes in 1523, the Knights departed, carrying the precious icon with them. After a journey through Italy, Malta, France, and Russia, the icon eventually found its home in the National Museum of Montenegro.

Not far from the monastery lies a captivating array of historical ruins. A cross-shaped baptistery, remnants of Ancient Ialyssos, and a subterranean church dedicated to Saint George, all contribute to the rich heritage of the region. 

Additionally, the path leading from Filerimos Monastery serves as the starting point for the journey to Golgothas. Along this path, one encounters a magnificent hilltop cross, offering breathtaking vistas. Adorning one side of the path are engravings depicting the Passion of the Christ, evoking profound contemplation.

Immerse yourself in the allure of the Monastery of Panagia Filerimos and its captivating surroundings, where history and spirituality converge in a harmonious symphony.

Acropolis of Rhodes

In the past, the Acropolis of Rhodes overlooked the western part of the city. Unlike most other ancient acropolises, this particular one lacked fortifications. The Acropolis of Rhodes boasted sanctuaries, expansive temple grounds, and public buildings. 

These structures were strategically constructed on steep terraces, supported by sturdy walls. The Acropolis of Rhodes stands as an exquisite example of Hellenic architecture, seamlessly blending with its natural surroundings.

The esteemed Italian Archaeological School was entrusted with excavating the Acropolis from 1912 to 1945. However, since 1946, the Greek Archaeological Service has carried out excavations, offering captivating insights into the history and topography of the Acropolis. 

Although the entire Acropolis has yet to be fully excavated, a dedicated archaeological zone of approximately 12,500 m2 has been set apart from modern buildings. The primary objective is to conduct long-term excavation work that will undoubtedly provide fascinating revelations about the Old City of Rhodes.

 Below, we briefly mention some of the significant monuments discovered within the core archaeological zone:

To the northernmost part of the Acropolis lies the Temple of Athena Polias and Zeus Polieus. These structures exhibit distinct Doric architectural features and are characterized by their porticos on all sides. Notably, four massive column drums are also present. This is where the Rhodians safeguarded their treaties with other states.

Archaeological Museum

The Archaeological Museum is situated in the heart of the Old Town of Rhodes, within the historic walls of the Medieval building known as the Hospital of the Knights. It finds its residence in the magnificent Palace of the Grand Master, a structure that holds a rich history. 

The construction of this grand edifice commenced in 1440 under the guidance of Grand Master de Lastic, only to be finalized in 1948 by Grand Master d’Aubusson. In the early 20th century, the building underwent a meticulous restoration by the Italians, who were also responsible for the preservation of the entire Medieval Town of Rhodes.

Today, the Archaeological Museum boasts an impressive collection of artifacts from excavations conducted across the island and its surrounding islets of Dodecanese. 

Visitors are treated to a captivating display of vases, figurines, small objects, and tomb groups that were unearthed in the ancient sites of Ialyssos and Kameiros, spanning from the Geometric to the Roman eras. 

Additionally, the museum showcases mosaic floors originating from the Hellenistic period, as well as funerary slabs honoring the valiant Knights.

Experience the allure of history as you step into the Archaeological Museum, where the past comes alive through its captivating treasures.

Aquarium

The Aquarium of Rhodes is located within the boundaries of Rhodes city, housed in the Hydrobiological Station building. Originally constructed during the Italian occupation in 1934-36 as the Institute of Biological Research, it was later renamed the Greek Hydrobiological Institute after the liberation of the Dodecanese islands. 

This remarkable establishment serves the primary purpose of showcasing and preserving the diverse species found in the Mediterranean Sea.

The aquarium itself consists of a circular area containing 13 large tanks and 15 smaller ones. These tanks are meticulously crafted from cement and adorned with sand, shingles, and corals on their bottoms. 

Within them, carefully selected fish and organisms native to the Mediterranean are proudly on display for public admiration. The tanks are continuously supplied with meticulously filtered sea water to replicate the natural habitat of these remarkable marine creatures.

Visitors to the Aquarium of Rhodes will have the opportunity to encounter a wide range of captivating sea species, including sea turtles, dolphins, sharks, seals, mollusks, echinoderms, crabs, and various types of fish. 

In addition to these tanks, there is a spacious underground area dedicated to the safekeeping and care of new species or marine animals requiring specialized treatment and protection. This area is frequently utilized for the rehabilitation of sea turtles and seals found in the nearby waters.

The museum section of the aquarium offers a captivating display of preserved sea species, such as dolphins, sea turtles, and sharks, which are truly worth exploring. 

Furthermore, the Hydrobiological Station of Rhodes currently conducts extensive research on the oceanography of the Dodecanese islands, solidifying its status as a leading research institution in the Mediterranean region.

Valley of Butterflies

The of Butterflies in Rhodes is a remarkable natural reserve on the western side of Rhodes. Situated approximately 27 km from Rhodes city and 5 km southeast of Theologos village, this unique valley captivates visitors with its lush greenery. Its name stems from the enchanting spectacle that unfolds during spring and autumn, when the valley becomes a haven for butterflies of the Panaxia genus, specifically the Quadripunctaria Poda species.

These beautiful creatures spend the rainy seasons as caterpillars in various areas around the Mediterranean Sea. However, when they metamorphose into full-fledged butterflies in spring, they journey to regions with high humidity to facilitate reproduction. 

This valley, traversed by the Pelekanos river and adorned with numerous waterfalls, becomes their destination of choice. Over time, the Valley of Butterflies has evolved into a popular tourist attraction, drawing thousands of visitors from May to September.

Exploring this idyllic sanctuary, visitors can stroll along narrow paths, marvel at the abundance of butterflies, and revel in the coolness provided by flowing waters and shaded trees – a welcome respite, especially on hot summer days. 

Wooden bridges span the river, while an uphill path leads to the Monastery of Panagia Kalopetra. It is crucial, however, for visitors to remember that their presence can have a negative impact on the butterfly population. 

These delicate creatures do not possess a stomach and conserve energy until necessary, refraining from eating until the reproduction period. Disturbing the butterflies causes them to fly away, expending valuable energy. 

Thus, it is strictly forbidden to disturb these magnificent creatures in any manner. Visitors are simply permitted to observe their stunning beauty.

In conclusion, the Valley of Butterflies presents an excellent opportunity for an unforgettable excursion. If fatigue sets in, one can find solace in the picturesque taverns overlooking the waterfalls, indulging in a refreshing drink or a delightful lunch while basking in the splendor of this natural treasure.

Ancient Ialyssos

Ialyssos, once among the earliest city-states on Rhodes Island, held a strategic position about 10 to 15 km from the present town of Rhodes. 

Perched atop a fortified hill, Ancient Ialyssos formed a confederation with two other city-states in 480 BC for mutual protection. Together, they relocated the capital of Rhodes to where modern Rhodes Town now stands.

While little remains of Ancient Ialyssos today, aside from remnants of a Doric Temple, this site has a rich history. In the past, a Christian basilica was built directly above it, later replaced by a Byzantine monastery from the 6th century. 

After the Byzantines were conquered by the Knights of St. John, the monastery became their stronghold, eventually becoming the capital of the present-day Rhodes Town.

Tragically, Ancient Ialyssos was ravaged during an attack by marauding Turks. By the 20th century, the island fell under Italian rule. In an effort to attract tourists, the Italians transformed the monastery into a church with four chapels, each dedicated to Orthodox Christians, Catholics, the Knights, and relics.

Ancient Kamiros

Located on the northwest coast of the island, the site of Ancient Kameiros captivates with its historical significance. In ancient times, Kameiros stood as one of the most influential towns, joining forces with Lindos and Ialyssos to form the mighty city-state of Rhodes in the 5th century BC. Today, only a few remnants remain, bearing witness to the town’s former glory.

Founded by the Dorians in prehistoric times, Ancient Kameiros later became home to the Achaeans. Artifacts discovered date back as far as the 8th century BC. Unfortunately, the town experienced two devastating earthquakes, one in 226 BC and another in 142 BC, leading to its ultimate abandonment.

Ancient Kameiros was constructed in three tiers. Atop the hill, the Acropolis housed the temple of the goddess Athena Kameiras. In the 6th century BC, a reservoir was built to cater to the needs of 400 families. Encircling this reservoir, the residents erected a Stoa adorned with elegant Doric columns.

 The main settlement sprawled around the Acropolis, featuring parallel streets and residential areas. The lower level showcased a Doric temple dedicated to Apollo and the Agora, where political matters were debated.

Excavation of Ancient Kameiros began in the 1850s and 1860s, revealing the Acropolis. The Italian Archaeological School continued the excavation and restoration efforts from 1928 until the end of the Second World War, coinciding with the conclusion of Italian rule over Rhodes and the Dodecanese.

Great Hammam

The Great Hammam stands as one of the few remaining Turkish baths in the Medieval Town of Rhodes. Constructed in the 14th century during the Ottoman occupation of the island, it is also known by other names such as the Baths of Souleiman, Mustafa Baths, and Yeni Hammam.

Originally built in 1558, the Great Hammam consisted of the men’s baths, a beautifully symmetrical square structure. Later, under the rule of Mustafa Pasha, the women’s baths were added. 

The interior of the hammam is even more impressive, with the men’s chamber adorned with luxurious marble and elegant fountains as central decorations. The other areas of the hammam also possess a unique charm, with small apertures in the domes.

Today, the building has been renovated and serves as a hammam-spa, offering a range of services including massages, exfoliation, and traditional head-to-toe wash.

Springs of Kallithea

The Springs of Kallithea in Rhodes, Greece, have been renowned since ancient times for their therapeutic properties.

 These springs were believed to possess the power to treat a wide range of ailments, including arthritis, obesity, diabetes, tropical diseases, dysentery, malaria, allergies, asthma, cystitis, and intestinal conditions. Individuals from neighboring islands, the coasts of Asia Minor, and other Mediterranean countries would journey to Rhodes to immerse themselves in the healing baths of these springs.

Panagia tou Bourgou

Panagia tou Bourgou, also known as the Virgin Mary of the Burgh or Lady of the Castle, stands as a prominent landmark in the Medieval Town of Rhodes. This ancient cathedral, one of the first to grace the island, holds the distinction of being the oldest standing church in Rhodes.

Originally constructed in the 14th century during the reign of Grand Magister Villeneuve, Panagia tou Bourgou bears witness to the passage of time. Though much of the cathedral has been lost to history, the remnants that remain leave a lasting impression. 

Scholars believe that its destruction likely occurred in 1522. Notably, the church underwent a transformation from an Orthodox temple to a Catholic sanctuary, taking on the name Sancta Maria Castelli Rodi. Furthermore, during the late 15th century, it was dedicated to Saint Catherine.

This stone-built church, designed in a Gothic architectural style, takes the form of a three-aisle, domed basilica. In its heyday, the church complex boasted not only the main structure but also six chapels and seven tombs. 

While only three vaulted arches of the church have endured the test of time, there are remnants of the chapels scattered throughout the site.

Although no longer an active place of worship, the archaeological site surrounding the church serves as a venue for various cultural events during the summer months. As night falls, the arches are beautifully illuminated, bringing this historic site to life once more.

Monolithos Castle

Perched atop a majestic 300-foot rock, the Castle of Monolithos in Rhodes is a testament to history. Constructed in 1480 by the Venetians, its purpose was to safeguard the village from marauding pirates and foes. 

Although the castle now lies in ruins, it offers breathtaking vistas of the picturesque Fourni beach and the adjacent islets. Access to this splendid fortress involves ascending a narrow, verdant path adorned with numerous steps.

While the walls of Monolithos Castle have succumbed to the ravages of time, a pristine white chapel dedicated to Saint Panteleimon graces its heart. Nearby, another smaller chapel stands, both now dilapidated. 

Additionally, remnants of ancient cisterns can still be found, serving as a reminder of the area’s water collection system that once sustained the entire vicinity.

Holy Trinity

The Holy Trinity Church, also known as the Church of Agia Triada, stands as a remarkable ecclesiastical monument in Rhodes. Situated on Knights Street in Rhodes Town, this stone-built church is a testament to the architectural prowess of the past.

Believed to have been constructed in the 15th century, the church showcases a cruciform design and a beautifully tiled dome. Initially dedicated to Saint Michael, it underwent a transformation during the Ottoman occupation and served as a mosque. 

However, during the Venetian occupation in the early 16th century, the church’s indoor murals and frescoes, which had fallen into ruin, were meticulously restored.

Unfortunately, the church suffered partial destruction during the Second World War. Nevertheless, restoration efforts were undertaken in the 1980s to preserve its historical significance.

Notably, the site of the church also reveals ruins dating back to the Hellenistic period, adding to its rich historical tapestry.

Church of Annunciation

The Church of the Annunciation of the Virgin is the renowned centerpiece of Rhodes Town. Situated to the north of Mandraki, the old port of the town, this church was built during the 1920s, when the Italians occupied the island.

 Drawing inspiration from the architectural design of the Medieval Gothic Church of Saint John, which is located adjacent to the Palace of the Grand Master in Rhodes Old Town, it showcases an exquisite blend of styles.

Originally serving the Catholic community, the church underwent a transformation in 1948, when Rhodes and the other Dodecanese islands were reunited with mainland Greece. It was converted into a Greek Orthodox Church and officially declared the Cathedral of Rhodes.

 As part of this transition, the church underwent decorative reforms, adapting from its Catholic origins to its new Orthodox identity. Notably, the esteemed Greek painter, Fotis Kontoglou, adorned the interior with captivating frescoes.

The exterior of the church boasts Gothic-style doors, windows, arches, and soaring ceilings. A tall bell tower, featuring an accompanying clock, graces the side entrance, facing the bustling harbor. The Church of the Annunciation commemorates its namesake feast day on March 25th with a grand religious festival.

Seven Springs

The Seven Springs, also known as the Epta Piges, is undoubtedly one of the most enchanting locations on the island of Rhodes. Situated between Colymbia and Archipolis, this picturesque site exudes tranquility and is surrounded by lush woodlands. Its serene ambiance and verdant beauty make it a truly romantic destination.

Museum of Bee and Honey

The Bee Museum of Rhodes delves into the rich history and age-old traditions of beekeeping, tracing its roots back to Ancient Greece. Situated near the enchanting village of Pastida, this museum stands as one of Greece’s most unique attractions, an absolute must-visit during your island getaway.

Established by the esteemed Beekeeping Company of Dodecanese, this captivating museum aims to preserve the legacy of beekeeping while enlightening visitors about the intricate practices and customs tied to honey production.

 Explore the fascinating world of honey bees, their biology, and the diverse array of herbs and plants on the island that entice these essential pollinators. And don’t miss the mesmerizing spectacle of honey-making in real-time, observable through a remarkable glass beehive.

Indulge your curiosity and immerse yourself in the captivating journey of beekeeping at the Bee Museum of Rhodes.

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