Tuesday, April 21, 2009. According to mythology, the sungod Helius fell in love with the nymph Rhodes, and as he shone his light on her, she was transformed into an island. Rhodes means "rose", and the region is known as a flowery place.
The Colossus of Rhodes, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, is said to have been straddling the harbor, as the boats sailed under him. Nothing remains of the statue, but two columns, each topped with a bronze deer, are where its legs might have stood.
From the Mandraki Harbor it is possible to view the town of Rhodes, surrounded in part by medieval walls. One can also see old windmill towers.
As soon as we disembarked we found a taxi to be our guide for the rest of the day. His name was Michael, and luckily for us, he was a very kind and careful driver. He showed us around the New Town, indicating some of the main sites, such as a bell, a clock, and a church tower. Also the Post office building, and some modern apartment complexes. He also pointed out the Israeli Alliance building, and to be fair, ruins of a Mosque.
He then drove us to Lindos Beach. Cradled between two harbors, it is the place where a sanctuary to Athena once stood. It was a very busy port until the beginnings of the 19th Century and it is remarkably well preserved. Examples of crusader architecture abound, and people still use the buildings as their homes. There are many swimming beaches and a water park. It reminded me of Pt. Pleasant. We could glimpse the Acropolis way up.
The Acropolis of Lindos is a very long climb from town. This is where the Doric Temple of Athena once stood. There are only ruins now, and we walked among them.
Michael then drove us to a place called Kalithea. The view from there was unforgettable.
It was then time to go back to the Old Town, where he left us. Pat and I went inside through the Marine Gate, one of many that allow entrance into the town. Nearby there was also St. John's Gate. One inside the town, there were many interesting structures and steep and narrow streets.
One of the first sites we visited was the Hospital of the Knights, founded by the Knight Hospitalers of St. John, a group of Crusaders dedicated to minister to the sick. The big rooms were wards to take care of the indigent, while the smaller rooms were for those who could afford to pay for private service. Later the Hospital was converted into the Archeological Museum. We explored the grounds and rooms.
The Archeological Museum:
Finally we went to visit the Grand Masters Palace. We passed a butcher shop on our way there, and almost got lost among the twisted streets. We eventually found ourselves in the Street of Knights, with both sides lined with the facades of the Inns of the Tongues, or the different nationalities that belonged to the order of Knights Hospitalers. The entrance to the castle was very imposing.
A mannequin of a knight in full regalia met us at the palace. We were able to explore all the rooms, but photographs were only allowed on the outside patios and courtyards. We saw old cannons there, as well as a sculpture of Laokoon and, outside, some playful dolphins.
We barely had enough energy left to return to the ship and prepare for our next adventure: Delos and Mykonos, also in Greece.