WILDTRACKS

The Beauty of Rhodes

Introduction


In the South Eastern corner of Europe sits an Island of immeasurable beauty, the Island of Rhodes. The furthest of the Greek Islands from Mainland Greece, Rhodes is part of the Dodecanese island complex  sitting proudly in the Aegean Sea.

 

One can be forgiven for thinking the island of Rhodes is mainly a touristic place, Rhodes is often overlooked for its natural beauty, probably because its a popular package holiday destination, and people tend to think of Rhodes as sun, sea and sand. Its a welcome surprise when venturing away from the beaches to find much of the island is remarkably quiet with many exqisite types of flora & fauna.

 

Geologically Rhodes consists mainly of limestone, and softer sedimentary rocks. The landscape is a mix mainly of deep forest, sand and pebble beaches, savanna & olive/orange plantations.

Once upon a time `The Formation of Rhodes´

The History of Rhodes begins long ago, its intertwined with ancient Gods & Goddesses. According to the well known myth, Zeus decided to apportion the islands of Greece to other Greek Gods, Helios was away for the time of the island selection, and as Rhodes was formed relatively late, it was formed just in time for Zeus to apportion it with Helios (The Sun God).  It was such a pleasing site for Helios to see this land emerge from the deep blue sea, shining with his own eternal light and becoming the most beautiful island of all.

 

The Island of Rhodes is believed to have its name derived from a sea nymph known as Rhode who was the nymph of this beautiful island, some Classical Greek scholars say that Rhode was the daughter of Helios while others say she was already living on and around the island and was actually a daughter of Neptune. Then when Helios acquired the island,  she married Helios. It Doesn't matter which side is correct, we can only surely find out some mysterious truths by ourselves, journeying to this land blessed by the Sun God, and spending extensive time in the countryside away from the public.

When Walking in the mountain regions up to the peaks its surprising to find different types of fossils hundreds of meters above sea level!. Some roofs of caves in the mountains are even embedded with sea shells. This indicates that the formation of Rhodes partly or perhaps fully occurred under the sea. During lengthy and complex geological upheavals dry land emerged known as Mt Aigaiida and again resubmerged 3 - 4 million years ago, The peaks of the huge Mt Aigaiida is what is know known as the Aegean Islands: Rhodes, Karpathos, Symi, Kassos. 


Heading away from the beaten track opens up a whole new world and it soon becomes apparent that Rhodes is in the middle of three continents: Europe, Africa & Asia. This geographic positioning has produced a rather exclusive natural world, influence from Asia & Africa are abundant. Another interesting point worth mentioning is that Rhodes wasn't deeply affected during the last ice age which means quite a number of local species are pre ice age, (in most other parts of Europe the majority of species are post ice age recolonizers).

Cliff top Castles

Lindos


Rhodes has many clifftop castles scattered along its coastline, the marvellous village of Lindos is overshadowed by a castle which respectfully stands around the ruins of an ancient acropolis. This outstanding archaeological site is probably the most important on Rhodes. Lindos was founded by the Dorians in the 10th century BC. The massive temple of Athena Lindia attained its final form (pictured above) in around 300 BC. The beautiful white housed village nestled below the castle is a maze of little alleys housing shops, restaurants and rooftop tavernas mixed with medieval walls beautiful black & white pebbled floors and painted ceilings. The castle fortifications were built during the 14th century There is a sublime out of time atmosphere felt when strolling around the vehicle free town, and the hotel free ambience makes the enchanting village more than a worthwhile destination.

Monolithos Castle


The impressive castle of Monolithos was built on the remains of another older castle on the west coast of the island, it must have been very difficult to construct because of the challenging rocky outcrop it is perched upon. Due to its great strategic location, the castle allowed clear views over the Mediterranean. The route to the castle is also quite tricky and must have made it very difficult for attacking enemies. No one ever managed to conquer the castle, The Ottomans tried but had to retreat empty handed!,  The castle was built by the knights of Rhodes in 1480 AD in order to protect the island from attacks and although it hasn't been preserved the ruin constitutes a wonderful proof of the Medieval history of Rhodes.

 

There are six or more castles around the Rhodes coastline each one with its unique character.

The Fascinating nature of Rhodes


From sea shore to mountain peaks and deep forest to forgotten ravines Rhodes has a fascinating nature. Trees such as pines, cypress, wild olive, cedar, mastic and holly grow together with a variety of aromatic herbs. Sage, oregano, thyme and lavender fill the air with a musky aroma, that mixed with the sea air creates a fusion of aura which can't be put into words. Many different birds of prey are resident or visit the Island at passage periods. Snakes, lizards, frogs and turtles are not uncommon, and a huge variety of insect life. The north half of the Island is greener and more lush than the almost middle eastern feel of the southern half, due to the clouds building over Mount Attaviros and usually heading in a north east direction. In the rainy season December-Late February the Island transforms into an emerald green flowering paradise.



Next Month

`The World Beneath Rhodes´