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Rhodes Town

Rhodes is the most popular in the Dodecanese chain of Greek Islands. Rhodes Town itself, with the old quarter is very special and a historical site, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. Plenty of nightlife and things to see for visitors and holiday makers. But this article is not about Rhodes Town, it rather explores some of the other spots on the island. Beach holidays and Rhodes Town are not really my thing as I'd rather be discovering and exploring out and about to get at the more ancient authentic Greek island lifestyle.

No wonder visitors consider this the sunshine isle, it has more days of sunshine and the longest summer of any of the Greek Islands. Receiving some 100,000 holiday makers a day, it is a busy place for those seeking sun and sea. Rhodes takes in more tourists than virtually any other of the islands.

However, there is more to the island than this and a wonderfully varied landscape, hilly interior with pine forests and monuments galore to visit. As a visitor, you simply cannot ignore the history and mythology that provides an intriguing heritage.

Probably the first place to start on our island tour is Lindos town. A lovely traditional style village with the ubiquitous white houses, winding lanes and churches. Atop this, the main beach provides a place for relaxation and there is good shopping, restaurants and clubs.

The main attraction is the acropolis ruins which dominate the village, and its associated archeological site, dating from about the 9th Century BC. Well worth the climb up and visiting. There are splendid views of the town from the top. Numerous buildings have been discovered here, spreading around the surrounding hillside, including:
The Sanctuary of Athena Linda, with the Doric Temple of Athena Lindia, relief of a Rhodes ship, Hellenic staircase, Roman Temple, the Byzantine Castle, a monumental staircase and the Governor's Palace.
It is best to visit mid to late afternoon, when the main mass of tourists has subsided. You can reach the acropolis on foot but most visitors prefer to take a donkey.

There is also a more 'modern' side to Lindos, approached from the north through a main square. The little streets of Lindos are narrow and winding with continuous buildings along each side. They mainly have similar features, flat rooves and made from local stone which is plastered over then whitewashed. You'll see homes that are from very simple cottages to larger houses with interior courtyards and even some larger properties.

The town is under a preservation order so that it will not be afflicted by mass development and is traffic free. The streets are far too narrow for cars and even if you stop to look in a shop window, you'll soon find other tourists backed up behind you. As in many other European countries, the largest and most important houses are called after the names off their original owners. When you walk through the town, in this maze of streets, you feel is if the houses are seemingly jammed together on top of each other higgledy-piggledy. There are plenty of shops and old ladies selling their hand-made lace.

Of an evening, there are plenty of restaurants which have tiered roof terraces with good views. Take advantage of the cool evening breeze as temperatures during the day time can easily reach 40 degrees C.

The main beach is excellent and the sea very shallow, you can easily wade out 20m and still find the water only at your waist. It is crowded in the summer months.

Lindos has pretty much given itself over to tourism and there are numerous coach and boat tours arriving all day. It is really only further on from Lindos that the tourists start to thin out and you will start to see authentic Greek island life.

Kritinia town is in the southern part of the island and is a small picturesque place with lovely sea views and a little harbour. The authentic Greek islands feel starts to emerge here and the town is charming, although not particularly interesting in itself - the beautiful landscape really makes this a place worth visiting. Outside of the town of Kritinia there is the Venetian Castle and a folklore museum with traditional costumes. The castle, which is medieval, stands proudly looking out across the sea atop a pine clad hill. Most of the inhabitants, which only number some 600 people, are farmers or fishermen and the village is certainly agriculturally based.

Seven Springs (Epta Piges) is a glorious location to visit and a great place to escape from the heat in the height of the season. A romantic destination on the island surrounded by woodland and green even during July and August. The seven bubbling springs generate water all year long, culminating in a lake. The access to the lake is really popular with visitors and a tremendous experience. To get to the lake you have to walk through a very narrow dark tunnel of some length. It's an eerie yet exciting experience and it really is dark in the tunnel, along stones and running water. If you don't fancy the trip through the tunnel, then you can simply follow the road. Surrounding the springs are beautiful cool woodland and rich vegetation. There are many little rustic bridges and rivers, numerous footpaths and the area is known for the geese, ducks and peacocks wandering through the woods. A unique setting.

Filerimos is only 8km from the capital, built by the Byzantines in the 5th Century AD. Here you'll take a trip back to the ancient past. There are ruins of the acropolis and temples, the Monastery of Our Lady of Filerimos and a Byzantine church. The area is full of pine trees and Filerimos stands on a plateau on the mountain. If you climb to the top the view is worth it.

Afandou is a little further inland and between Lindos and Rhodes. It is amongst the oldest villages on the island and set amidst olive groves. Lots of old churches to visit and some nice shops. When you've had enough, do take time out in the main square and people watch for a chile. Visitors can take a little train during the summer to the pretty beach. History says that originally the inhabitants of Afandou lived right on the beach but were being constantly attacked by pirates, so they moved the whole village up into the hills to better protect themselves against marauders.

Surprisingly, Afandou has its own 18 hole golf course not far from the village. Ideal if you are a bit of a golfer and fancy a round.