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Modern Greece in less than 200 years old. It borders Turkey, Bulgaria, FYROM, and Albania.
Ancient Greece including its colonies extended all around the Mediterranean coast and the Black Sea. Alexander the Great then brought some elements of Greek culture to areas as far as what is now Pakistan although along the route he found there were already some settlements and Greek speakers from the Greek world.
Greece was part of the Ottoman Empire for about 400 years but was also invaded by other groups so that apart from the influence of Turkish on the vernacular there are also Slavic and Italian influences in some parts of Greece. Many words that are used for clothing and motor cars are French or French based.
Arriving at Corfu at dawn Copyright 2008 Rona Nicholls
Arriving at Corfu at dawn Copyright 2008 Rona Nicholls
Greece has long been poplar as a holiday destination as the climate is warm over a long duration and often through some periods of the winter - the Halcyon days – which can be very pleasant but are by no means guaranteed. The land is almost entirely mountainous with some large plains allowing dairy and various crops to be produced. The high elevation of the land means that many areas get snowed in during the winter months. Other areas, especially some islands, rarely see snow are a enjoy a relatively mild climate while others enjoy or suffer from high levels of precipitation as you will realise if you visit any of the more verdant Greek islands.
Holidays in Greece cover everything on the spectrum. Island hopping is still possible although a bit more difficult as there are fewer ferries available. It is still possible to pick up rooms on spec but I would recommend you perhaps book or find out more about your destination if you are planning to go there at the peak of the summer which centres around the 15th August for Greeks and most of August for the rest of the world. Always check to find out when Greek Easter is as that is another peak holiday time when you may find yourself roomless! Greek Easter sometimes falls at the same time as the Western church and sometimes not.On the other end of the spectrum, one can charter a yacht and gain access to parts of the islands and the mainland which remain unexplored by the majority of tourists. Charters are available to many parts of Greece including the mainland although it is very easy to book a flight and organise your own accommodation due to the advent of the Internet. Simple rooms, studios, apartments, houses, cottages, villas, guest houses, hotels and other types of accommodation are all online enabling the visitor to compare prices and standards before booking.
Greece, with its many cultural elements, architecture, traditions, food and music will appeal to all, each one finding his own Greece that will stay forever in his or her heart. Greece is waiting to welcome you.
According to the UNESCO catalogue, the following archaeological sites and cultural areas in Greece have been characterised as Monuments of Cultural Heritage:
1. Monastery complex of Aghio Oros (Mount Athos)
2. The Acropolis of Athens
3. Vassae: The Temple of Epicurean Apollo
4. Vergina - Aegae
5. Delphi (archaeological site)
6. Delos (archaeological site)
7. Epidaurus (archaeological site)
8. Early Christian and Byzantine Thessalonica
9. Monastery complex of Meteora
10. Mystras (Medieval City)
11.The Monasteries of Daphni (Attica), Ossios Lucas (Central Greece) and Nea Moni (New Monastery) of Chios
12. The archaeological sites of Mycenae and Tiryns
13. Olympia (archaeological site)
14. Patmos: Monastery of Aghios Ioannis Theologos and the Cave of the Apocalypse
15. Medieval city of Rhodes
16. Samos: Pythagoreio and Heraion
17. Old Town of Corfu (Kerkyra)
There are many festivals in Greece throughout the year. Christmas has become commercialised especially in Athens where the main Syntagma Square and the area around the Zappeion next to the National Gardens are taken over by commercial interests such as synthetic snow slides, donkeys with which to be photographed, huge trees and other money making ideas. Christmas is nowhere as big a celebration as Easter where families travel back to their home villages or visit resorts en masse or the Feast of the Dormition (Assumption) of the Virgin Mary on August the 15th where Athens in rendered a ghost town as most people again have returned to their villages or gone on holiday. Greek Easter is not always at the same time as the western Christian Easter so it is advisable to check in order to avoid problems with travel and accommodation.
Notes: Agios, Agia and Agii mean saint or holy in the male, female and plural. Spelling varies.
Other festivals are Saint’s days. If you have a name that also belongs to a saint or is something to do with Jesus or the Virgin Mary then you will have a name that corresponds to a feast day in the Greek Orthodox church's calendar. A lot of people make more of their name day than their birthday. If it is a popular name there may be a lot of parties going on in the area. As with birthdays, the correct greeting is Chronia Polla (Many Years) so in other words it is like saying ‘Many Happy Returns’ Also, some villages have Panigyria which is a festival to celebrate the saint of the village church. There are loads of them, especially in the summer. They usually consist of traders hanging round the outskirts of the celebration selling Chinese toys or carvings from Africa. The party is usually run by a committee. There is a band and singers, lots of meat and drink and bread for the meat on sale. It is usually jam packed and noisy. There are some old fashioned Panayiria still where there are no microphones and the celebrations are not about profit, but they are fewer every year. As a non-Greek, I would definitely go to one for the experience as it is a big part of the culture and you can have fun dancing and watching the families have a good night out.
Please note that these festivals are usually on the eve of the festival.
Christmas and New Year’s are quite visible, as in the west. Streets are decorated in the towns and cities with lights, trees and the traditional ship. It is a bit confusing for Westerners as St. Basil is referred to as the bringer of gifts, but there are pictures of Santa Clause. His feast is on the 1st January when gifts were traditionally given. People exchange presents also on Christmas Eve or Day perhaps because so many Greeks have links with other countries and have adopted the traditions of Australia, Germany or Canada for example.
On New Year’s Eve some go to a Club where there is live music or to a reception at a hotel perhaps. The most common and traditional thing is to have people round to eat and then play cards all night.
On New Years Day a special kind of bread called Vasilopitta is eaten. It is cut into sections for Jesus and the house, apart from for the family and guests. A coin is hidden in the loaf bringing luck to however finds it in his or her slice.
On January the 6th Epiphany is celebrated. The priests bless large bodies of water and throw their crucifixes in the seas or lakes for young men to bravely dive in and retrieve as traditional dictates.
On January the 8th, in some parts of Thrace, the one day role swap called Ginekokratia (rule by women) on the feast day of Saint Domenica (Agia Domnika) is very amusing to observe as the women hang out in the kafenia and the men don aprons and do the household chores.
In Greece, the three week period before lent is called the Apokriatika. Patras is the place to go if you enjoy big parades and parties. In Athens, around the central Plaka area, prepare to be hit with a plastic club or buy one yourself and dress up in fancy dress.
Tirnavos in Thessaly has a custom which was introduced by the introduction of Arvanites to the town after the population had been depleted by Cholera. Dancing, drinking wine and tsipouro and replica phalluses made from various materials all feature in this carnival extravaganza where there are temporarily no taboos. If you don’t have a car you can get the bus from Larisa which is the major town in the area. The bus network in Greece is called KTEL.
March 25th is both the feast of the Annunciation in the Greek Orthodox Calendar and Independence Day. People with the name Evangelos and Evanglia of which their everyday name could be Vangelis for a male and Lia, Evi, Litsa etc., have their name day on this day so you can tell them Chronia Polla (Many Years) which is like saying ‘Many happy returns’.
On the 23rd April or on the first Monday after Easter if the 23rd is during Lent is the feast of St.George which is widely celebrated in rural Greece. There is a lot of dancing and eating. If you would like to witness this then try the celebrations at Arahova which is near ancient Delphi, or Skyros where George is the patron saint.
The 1st of May is either a day for workers to have the day off and go on demonstrations in the big cities, or to have the day off work and go to the countryside and collect flowers and have a picnic. Wreaths made from the flowers are traditionally hung in houses and on balconies and then burnt on bonfires on the 23rd June which is the eve of St John’s day.
May 21st is when Costas and Eleni celebrate their name days. Constantine was the first Byzantine ruler to become a Christian and Eleni was his mother.
In some parts of Northern Greece there are fire walking feats on this date. This practice is known as the Anastenaria and is carried out in parts of Macedonia by communities who originate in Thrace, part of which is now in within modern day Turkey. The name of this custom is called ‘anastenazo’ which means sigh. This ritual is practiced in agricultural communities, and is most certainly related to fertility rites.
The feast of Ayia Marina is held on 17th July and is a major event in places outside urban centres. This saint is said to be a protector of crops.
The feast of Profitis Ilias (the Prophet Elijah) on July 20th is widely celebrated at the countless hill- or mountaintop shrines of Profitis Ilias. The most famous is on Mount Taiyettos, near Sparti in the Peloponnese with an overnight vigil.
The Apokimisis tis Panayias (Assumption or Dormition of the Blessed Virgin Mary) on August the 15th is the day when people traditionally return to their home village or at least leave the major urban areas and go on holiday. It is a chance to visit the cities while they are relatively empty, especially Athens and Thessalonica. You will find deserted squares and streets and a transport system with seats for all at this time of year. If you are travelling around Greece you need to book your accommodation and most modes of transport. The busiest place for religious pilgrims is the island of Tinos in the Cyclades as this is where a miracle was said to have occurred that is attributed to the Virgin Mary. Some pilgrims make their way up the incline towards the church on their hands and knees.
The Yennisis tis Panayias (Birth of the Virgin Mary) on September the 8th sees special services in churches dedicated to the event. On Spetses they also celebrate the anniversary of the battle of the straits of Spetses, which took place on September 8, 1822. A re-enactment of the battle takes place in the harbour, followed by fireworks and feasting well into the night.
The feast of Ayios Dhimitrios (Saint Demetrius) on the 26th October is a well celebrated day especially in Thesalonica where he is the patron saint. In rural areas the new wine is traditionally broached on this day. All the Dimitris and Dimitras celebrate their name day so there will be much cake buying and late night partying as these are popular names.
The 28th October is called Ohi Day (No Day) It is on this day in 1940 that Greece’s leader, Metaxas said ‘No!’ to Mussolini’s ultimatum. It is a national holiday and there are parades of bands and marching schoolchildren all over the land. In most areas the military participate in the parades while in the major cities, politicians are present while the military march past as well as fly in Athens.
The feast of Ayios Nikolaos (Saint Nicholas) is on the 6th December as it is on some other European countries. This patron of sailers as he is in Greece has many churches dedicated. People of the same name of names derived from this whether male or female, celebrate their name day.
The climate is Mediterranean in general although the country has micro-climates and can vary over small distances.
One could say the summers are hot and the winters are mild in general but in some areas winter lasts for much longer than in other areas as a large area of Greece is mountainous. In many mountainous areas, villages are snowed in and suffer from blackouts due to the weight of snow bringing down power lines. Some areas in the west and on the Ionian (Eptanisa) have rain nearly all throughout the winter and are therefore very lush regions. Most of the islands in the Aegean have relatively low rainfall and some of the islands seem quite barren. Many of these islands experience the strong summer wind, the Meltemi.
Mykonos first came into the western orbit during the 1950s when certain rich and famous people started to visit. Not far from Mykonos is the sacred island of Delos which can be visited from Mykonos.
The eponymous port and capital, locally referred to as Chora as all the main towns on small islands seem to be, is charming with its cube-like white-washed houses and blue shutters, stone-flagged maze of lanes. The layout of the town was deliberately complex so as to confuse pirates. Another feature of the town is the pelican inhabitant(s). I don’t know if there is one or more. The original was called Petros or at least that is what you will hear if you ask anyone in Greece.
The island of Mykonos is connected to Piraeus and Rafina by ferry or hydrofoil and also by air internationally in the tourist season and all through the year to Athens International Airport.
The town is closed to cars during most of the day, so be prepared if you arrive by car, for a walk if your accommodation is in town.
The town has plenty of restaurants, bars, clubs, cafes and shops which stay open until early in the morning. Its streets tend to heave at night during the peak visiting times although you can avoid that either by exploring at other times of day or off-peak.
A well-known area of Mykonos town is called Little Venice and is popular with visitors. It is a small area by the sea where there are cafes and bars. The buildings are built very close to the sea which often comes roaring in very close to the many occupants of the sea-front establishments. The architecture varies from the traditional white-washed Cycladic architecture in that is built onto the rocks and it supported by stilts and some of the balconies by wooden supports. The area is one of the most commonly photographed and is particularly popular at sunset.
The island is pretty barren and treeless and has a rather remote feel. It is often quite windy and is interesting to explore on foot as you will get a feel of rural Mykonos which has nothing to do with cosmopolitan Mykonos.
Places of interest and what to see
The island of Mykonos has various windmills, some of which date back to the 16th century. There are traditionally 16 windmills on the island of Mykonos. None of which are used for their original purpose. They are an integral part of the landscape and are a popular place to visit.
The Paraportiani Church
The Church of Panagia (Virgin Mary) Paraportiani in Mykonos dates back to the 15th century and faces the sea on a promontory. The architecture is unique. The church takes its name from the word meaning inner or secondary door.
The Archaeological Museum
The Archaeological Museum near the harbour is a repository of many finds such as sculptures, jewellery and ceramics from Delos, Rheneia and Mykonos.
The museum is has a wonderful collection of vases which illustrate techniques in ceramics in Ancient Greece as well as many other important finds.
The Aegean Maritime Museum
The Aegean Maritime Museum has model of ships starting from the pre-Minoan days until the 19th century as well as artefacts relating to shipping on the island of Mykonos.
The whole of the island of Delos is a designated museum. This island which is 2 kilometres off the coast was once densely populated in ancient times and had a large slave market. The island was inhabited from 3000 BC
Delos has a fascinating history both mythological and factual and is well worth visiting. The visitor will learn a lot from a visit to the island.
There are some beaches on Mykonos which are used by business as non-stop, party venues. They have names such as Paradise and Super Paradise. Other beaches are more traditional and have developed into resorts while others are quite remote feeling and frequented by camper vans.
Some of the beaches are listed below:
This beach is accessible by bus from town and a regular boat service from Plati Gialos, Elia beach is the largest of the south chain of beaches. Good restaurants, hotels and bungalows provide beach-side refreshment and accommodation with the added attraction of the island’s only water park situated just back from the beach and only minutes away. In designated sections nude bathing is allowed.
Very often subjected to a good onshore wind, north-facing Fetelia beach, unpleasant to sun bathers, is a great pleasure to wind surfing enthusiasts. Located on the north and central part of the island this beach forms the base to Panormos Bay, the largest on Mykonos. There is a restaurant to serve the needs of those who visit and access to this beach can only be made by taxi or private vehicles.
Located on the southwest corner of the island and only two kilometres from town, this area has recently developed into a self-contained village. Together with an abundance of hotels and places to eat and drink there are also supermarkets, butcher, pharmacy, and bakery. Due, for the most part to the sea's sandy bottom which drops off very gently from the shore, Ornos provides the perfect family beach. Access to and from town is made easy with a frequent local bus service. A daily boat service to other beaches as well as excursions to the island of Delos are available from Ornos bay which also provides a good anchorage for yachts.
Agios Yiannis Beach
On the west side of the island and facing Delos, the relatively small and picturesque beach of Agios Yannis offers white sands and a collection of small coves catering to the general public. Famous as the location for the film "Shirley Valentine", the beach has an easygoing character. Regular bus service from town provides easy access throughout the day.
You will find more information from the Greek National Tourist Organisation here: http://www.gnto.gr/
The interior of the island which is more or less treeless has one main village and some small settlements.
Ano Mera is a fairly traditional village with its main square and kafenio. A monastery dating back to the 16th century is also located here. Nearby is the 12th century Paleokstro monastery which is set on the hillside.
About one and half miles off the west coast of Paros lies Antiparos. It can be reached from Pounta in 10 minutes by boat. This little port is about twenty minutes away from the main Paros port of Parikia. This small island has 57 km of coastline. Most of the population live in the village of Kastro or Chora, the main settlement, on the north coast.
The island has recently become more popular with people of all walks of life choosing to spend their holidays on the island of Antiparos, rather that popping over for a few hours.
It is worth visiting the famous cave which has been known since ancient times. It was known for its stalagmites and stalactites and, despite losing many to Russian soldiers between 1700 and 1774 and Italian soldiers in the Second World War, when they were cut down as souvenirs.
The Antiparians were among the first in the Cyclades to take part in the war of independence. The island was officially incorporated into Greece in 1832. In the Second World War Antiparos played an active part in the resistance movement against the Nazis.
Watersports, including diving, scuba diving are on offer. There are lots of beaches. Kastro is an attractive village of alleys which is pleasant to explore.
Boat trips round the island and to Despotiko Island are also available.
The main settlement of Chora has a bars and clubs and these can get quite noisy during the high season.
The island’s diminutive size doesn’t demand car hire. The island has a bus which connects Chora to the cave. There are cars, mopeds and bicycles for rent on the island.
During the busy season, June 1st to 15th September, it is advisable to book your accommodation ahead of time.
Santorini seems to be known all over the world judging from the diverse places from which the visitors come. It has an airport which is linked by domestic and some international carriers, a ferry port with connections to Piraeus and other islands in the Aegean including Crete and is also a major stop for cruise ships.
A road links the port with Chora (most island capitals on the Aegean islands are locally known as Chora despite having another name) also known as Thera or Fira. There is also a cable-car to the top of the cliff from the port, while the capital of the island (Chora) has bus links to all the villages.
The island suffered a cataclysmic event in the mid-second millennium BC.
Santorini is actually a group of islands comprising of Nea Kameni, Palea Kameni, Aspronisi, Therasia and Thera. They are the result of the volcanic eruptions over the previous millennia.
The dramatic island is made attractive by the contrast between the stark landscape and the white-washed buildings. Some of these buildings seem to hang over the edge of the volcanic rim. There are amazing views from all over the island, while the sunsets are thought to be particularly noteworthy. Photographs of the island are abundant.
Thousands of visitors come to the island every year from all over the world. The island has a cosmopolitan atmosphere and there are many retailers and restaurants which aim at the well-heeled.
The island has some areas which have been exploited in that every available space has been exploited in order to allow people to eat and watch the sunset at the same time, but this does not mean that the whole of the island has been ruined. A large part is agricultural despite the clemancy of the climate. Tomatoes are produced on Santorini getting succor mostly from the humidity which then falls onto the soil in the evening. The vines get some extra moisture from the dew fall on their leaves which are at ground level as they are not trained to grow upwards. The porous, volcanic soil and the method of production which entails leaving the grapes to dry in the sun for about ten days until they are borderline raisins, produces the sweet dessert wine known as Vinsanto.
The lack of rainfall on Santorini has inspired its inhabitants to collect any rain-water or dew by harnessing hard flat areas that that flow down to cisterns.
Minoan excavations and history
It is thought that the residents in Minoan times had some warning that there was going to be an eruption as no skeletons of human remains have been unearthed at the site of Akrotiri which is second only to Knossos in Crete. At this date a small proportion of the town so far has been revealed. The town was an advanced settlement, having two and three storey buildings, squares and streets plus wall remains of as high as eight metres. Some finds seem to point to the export of some textiles. Some of the residences still have their stone staircases as well as frescoes and ceramic storage jars. There was also a sophisticated drainage system with running water and water closets. The water supply had two sets of pipes which appear to perhaps suggest hot and cold running water most probably supplied by geothermic springs.
What to do and see
There is now a submarine which offers visitors the chance to see more of the dramatic geological features. The submarine leaves from the village of Vlychada. There is a bus link from the main town.
Sulphur Beach where the sea is warm because of the underwater volcano. The waters are said to be beneficial to health.
There are quite a few wineries on the island. The volcanic soil is a major factor is the quality and taste of the produce. The wineries produce Vinsanto as well as other types of wine. Three of the wineries on Santorini are at Megalohori. They are Boutaris, Antoniou and Iliopoulos.
Villages on the island of Santorini
Megalohori is an interesting village. It seems that the many of the houses are set down in the earth so making them seem at first glance to be disproportionate. The houses are walled so it is not always possible to appreciate them in their entirety. There are some interesting churches to visit and you will enjoy the lively traditional atmosphere and the respect the local residents have shown to their traditional which is reflected in the upkeep of the buildings.
Oia (pronounces Ia)
The village of Oia seems to be about to tumble into the sea. It is an attractive, oft photographed place and is especially favoured by romantic types because of the particular view of the sunset. It is well developed and has plenty of high-end retailers. It is fascinating to explore the narrow lanes and look out over the sea at the other sister islands.
Pygos is a fortified Ventetian village surrounding a castle. Cars are banned from the village and you will be able to explore on foot the maze of alleys with their tightly packed houses.
The village of Imerovigli is perched on the edge of the island’s caldera. The village is well developed for tourism being placed in a perfect place for stunning views, including the sunset. Imerovigli is compelled by law to use its original style of architecture so you will be able to stay in accommodation with original features. Near here are the remains of the Venetian castle known as Skaros.
The village is situated just above the main village of Chora (Fira) and has a superb view down onto Fira and the sea. A little way out of the village towards Imerovigli are the remains of the Monastery of Agios Nikolaos which was built in the traditional Cycladic style. You can visit it during visiting hours which will be available at the tourist information centre in Santorini. http://www.eot.gr
A number of sports are available on Santorini including windsurfing, sailing, beach-volley, basketball, hiking, jet-skiing and water-skiing and sea-kayaking.
Skyros is in the Sporades is where the War Poet Rupert Brooke is buried. Skyros is the largest and most southerly in the island group. The main town/village is eponymously named or otherwise called Chora. The first two letters in the word ‘Chora’ are pronounces like the ‘J’ in the Spanish word ‘Junta’.
The island has two high peaks. The verdant one is Mount Olympus while the barren, rocky one is called Kochila. Its main port on the west coast is Linaria. The island’s castle was built by the Venetian’s who ruled there for a couple of centuries from the 13th to the 15th century. It boasts a Byzantine Monastery, a Bronze Age site at Palamari and also has its own breed of pony known as Skyrian Ponies. Find out more about the ponies here: http://www.equiworld.net/uk/horsecare/breeds/skyrospony/
The island of Skyros is linked to Euboea/Evia via the port of Kymi on the Euboean side. The company that operates the ferry service is the Skyros Shipping Company.
It is possible to fly to Skyros using the domestic airline service. The airport does not service international flights. Flights to Skyros leave from Athens and Thesalonika. The domestic airline in Greece is Olympic Airlines. Website: http://www.olympicairlines.com/
Skyros Airport is about 4km away from the main town of Skyros/Chora and in connected to Chora by bus and taxi.
The capital of the island of Skyros is blessed with impressive edifices are built on this hill-town. You will observe as you wend your way up to the castle at the top of the hill, the traditional homes that are still furnished and decorated with carved wooden furniture, detailed embroidery and complex ceramics. The residents of the island are very proud of their island way of life and are known all over Greece for their style of home furnishing. The unique styles are said to have been inspired by designs from goods brought to the island by pirates who were said to have exchanged them for food.
Some people still wear traditional costume which consists of a cap, waistcoat, loose britches, leggings and sandals called ‘trohadia’ for the men and traditional long embroidered skirt and a yellow headscarf.
The island is also home of a famous festival that is held during the Greek Carnival season which occurs in Greece during the run up to Lent. Read more below in the section called Festivals.
On the edge of the town is the Faltaits Museum which is located on the edge of town. The museum covers the era from after the Byzantine fall to the present day and has displays of folk art, rare books costumes household items.
There is also an Archaeological Museum which has displays of Neolithic and Mycenean finds on the island and also has a room furnished in a traditional Skyrian style.
The entrance to the castle is through a tunnel beneath the Monastery of St George which dates back to the 10th century.
The ancient site of Palamari which is located about 13 kilometres outside Chora dates back to between the years of 2,500 to 1,800 BC. The remains show the street layout of this small settlement which was once connected by a port to other trading areas in the Aegean. There are many more interesting things about this site whose many finds are in the local Archaeological Museum so go and visit it!
Festivals on Skyros
The festival that is held during Greek Carnival is quite bizarre. There are tow main characters in the parade; an old man and a young girl. The ‘old man’ is dressed in a black woollen cape and a mask made of goat skin and a belt covered in small bells. The girl’s character who is played by a young man dressed as a woman is dressed in traditional Skyrian costume. Also featured in the parade is the ‘Frank’ who wears a mask and has a large bell clasped around his waist.
The festival is accompanied by people in costume who recite the ‘Trata’ which are satiric rhymes and are reminiscent of Dionysian rites.
As in the rest of Greece, each church and village have celebrations attached to the name of a saint or an aspect of some part of Christianity.
Some of the festivals are:
Agios Artemios (St.Artemios) at Mount Kohilas which is held on the 18th October at the saint’s chapel inside a cave.
The religious festival of Agios Georgios (Saint George) is one of the biggest in Skyros. It is a procession where an icon with his image is carried around, accompanied by a band and parade by the marine and air force personnel. St George’s day is a moveable feast, so please check when it is each year to avoid missing the parade.
Agios Nikolaos on the 12th December, at the island’s port, takes place at noon.
The Prophet Ilia (Elija) on the 19th July at Trahi.
Sailing, windsurfing, fishing, sailing and trekking are all available on the island of Skyros.
Pefkos is a pretty place where you can swim in clean waters and enjoy the peace and quiet of the village and its pine-covered hills.
Kalamitsa has a beach where you can fish and windsurf.
Aspous, which is about 5km away from Chora has a few tavernas and is near the village if Aspous.
Agios Petros has a white sandy beach and nearby pine trees which help to create a beautiful environment. The beach is about 15km away from the main town while the nearest village is called Palamari.
Acherounes is a popular beach with cafes and snack bars. It is a sandy beach with clear waters and is about 10 km from Chora.
Kareflou can only be reached by an unmade road. It is about 5km from Chora and is closest to the village of Molos.
This group of 'twelve islands' as the name means include some well-known and well visisted islands such as Rhodes and Kos and lesser known such as Patmos, Astypalia, Kalymnos, Karpathos, Kasos, Leros, Nisyros, Symi, Tilos and Kastelorizo also known as Megisti. Kastelorizo is far away from the rest of the islands and is the furthest flung island in Greece. It is connected to Rhodes by ferry and air having its own airport despite its size of about 5 square miles. These islands have interesting traditions culturally and in their arts and crafts. Many of the islands lost a large part of their population to emigration especially to the United States of America and Australia. Some of the islands are described in brief below.
Patmos is known for being the place where the Book of Revelations in the New Testament was written by St. John. It is possible to visit the cave where the author was said to have received the revelation from God. The island is crowned by a monastery set in the capital town (Chora). The harbour village is called Skala which is typical of the Greek isalnds while the capital is named Chora. Both Skala and Chora are fun to explore on foot. The island is small enought to walk between both towns and some beaches with the pathway up to Chora which begins at the back of Skala being particularly picturesque. The island is full of charming little houses painted in pleasing colours with external wooden shutters. You will see figs drying on flat roofs if you visit Patmos at the right time of year. The landscape with its strange rock formations and diverse vegetation creates a wonderful backdrop for a holiday that combines a multitude of themes including beach, cultural and away from it all.
Kos is a very popular island with its own airport which welcomes tourists from all parts of the globe each year. It is also famed historically at being the birthplace in the 5th century BC of Hipoocrates. The Hippocratic oath is sworn by all medical practitioners of Western Medicine when they qualify. The island has a coastline blessed with many beaches and is also home to various Classical ruins. You may hire cars and motorcycles on Kos while a popular form of transport is bicycle which may also be hired.
Astypalia is a small island rich is culture with its own castle built on the highest part of Chora. It can be reached by ferry and air from Athens or Rhodes. This barren looking island is full of surprises having its fair share of churches fashioned in the arched room style and whitewashed which makes them stand out against the sparcely vegetated land. You will discover beaches where you can swim and relax while the island although small has a wide range of accommodation to suit all tastes.
Karpathos is an island with a unique culture and beautiful crafts that are still practised today. One of the reasons while the island's culture and traditons is so well preserved and kept up is its former emigrants from the United States of America who have invested their hard-earned cash as well as their time into this island. Again, despiste its size, the island has its own airport while also having ferry connections. The island, as well as having a selection of accomodation from rooms to apartments and hotels. The interior is ripe for discovery as is the coastline which has a variety of beaches, some sandy and suitable for families while others offer windurfing. If you are interested in Greek traditons, exploring nature and beach life, you will be delighted with this island which also benfits from a high level of English speakers due to its strong links to the United Stated of America.
Kalymnos is a fairly large island for the Dodecanese and has a fairly large population and is accessed by air and sea. It offers beach type holidays and offers sports such as scuba-diving, trekking and climbing. The main town offers Italianate architecture, an Archaological Museum with significant collections while the island has a number of geological phenomena such as its rock formations and caves.
The island of Rhodes in the Dodecanese (literally ‘twelve islands’) has a long and exciting history and has many architectural structures that remain a monument to some of its history, namely, the crusades.
Rhodes town includes a walled, medieval town with a castle built by the Crusaders but also combines other elements of its varied past.
Rhodes was one of the last enclaves to become part of modern day Greece in 1948
This island is also one of the largest Greek islands and offers a high standard of tourism for a cosmopolitan clientele, many of whom return constantly to this charming place.
Rhodes is served by an international airport and port and good road links.
The island is wooded with pines and cypresses while also being cultivated in some areas.
Apart from the capital city of Rhodes, there are many resorts and villages which offer a wide variety of accommodation ranging from rooms to villas and grand hotels.
What to see
This is famous for being the first landscaped park. It was used in Roman times and there is a Roman aqueduct there. The park is home to some Peacocks and there is a proper walkway all around the park enabling the visitor to see everything. The park is also the home of the tomb of the Ptomelies .
The Valley of the Butterflies (Petaloudes), is about 30 km outside Rhodes town near the village of Kalamonas and is a natural habitat set in a valley. Butterflies there are found from June to September. The site also has a restaurant and a picnic site so it is quite feasible to spend the day there.
In the same area you will find the Monastery of the Virgin of Kalopetra.
Lindos Town where you will see the ruins of the ancient acropolis on the hill outside the town is about 35 km from Rhodes Town. Lindos is very popular with visitors. If you are not already staying here, it is well worth visiting. Explore the town with its narrow streets and interesting architecture with its arched doorways and courtyards entrances and square, white painted houses, many of which are available to rent.
Lalysos, which is the second largest town in Rhodes is home to the monastery of the Virgin of Filerimos. The monastery was built by the Knights is the 15th century on the site of a Byzantine church.
The Ancient City of Kamiros dates back to the Archaic and Hellenistic periods. The city was extensively excavated in the 19th century. The temple of the Athena which dates back to the 8th century BC during the geometric period is also located here.
Below are just some of the beaches. There are loads to choose from, some are developed with facilities and others are quiet and out of the way.
Lindos has three beaches which are all different. Find the one that suits you.
Elli Rhodes city beach is the commercial beach in front of the Casino.
Haraki (Charaki) beach is located near the Feraklos castle. It is popular with families and you can hire beach umbrellas or use your own depending on which part of the beach you use.
Kolymbia beach is a white sandy beach near Afandou.
Afandou beach is a long stretch of sandy beach at Afandou on the east coast. The area is mostly visited by independent visitors.
Glysra beach is a white sandy beach at Lardos which is a resort area with a traditional village.
Masari beach is near to Haraki beach and is a pale, sandy beach.
Ixia beach is both sandy and pebbly and is located at the highly developed resort of Ixia. There are sports facilities for water-sports but the sea is often too rough for children or weak swimmers.
Archangelos is a village where the houses, with their arches courtyard entrances, are painted in bright colours and traditional crafts still exist. It is about 30km from Rhodes Town to the south.
Salakos is about 40 km away from the capital and is very pleasant in the summer due to the high number of trees that provide shade. It is possible to see some traditional Greek pursuits carried out there if you look carefully.
Koskinou is very close to Rhodes Town and is a pretty village where the narrow streets and lanes pass by vividly hued houses enclosed gardens. This is a lovely place to explore.
Monolithos is in the south of the island and has a mediaeval castle nearby on a high rock with fantastic views.The village comprises of stone houses with courtyards and tiled roofs which are built around a hillside.
Asklipio has a castle and a Byzantine church built in the 11th century. The church has recently been restored, so if you are interested you can view the wonderful wall paintings.
Faliraki is a well developed holiday resort with an immensely long, sandy beach, water-sports and cosmopolitan accommodation and attracts a plethora of visitors each year.
Rhodes has long been established in catering to the needs of all types of tourists so it is not surprising that most sports are available.
Sports available include go-karting, football, tennis, golf, cycling, water-skiing, squash, horse riding, bowling, sailing and windsurfing and beach volleyball.
Prasonissi on the southern tip of Rhodes is very popular with windsurfers and paragliders.
The town is quite beautiful and offers abundant shade from its many trees. The medieval town is inhabited today and is a unique place in Greece with its remnants of the many cultures that played a role in its history. There are many streets that have no names so it is very exciting to enter the city as every corner you turn will be a new experience. Like Corfu, Rhodes Town has a Jewish Quarter and there has been a Jewish presence on the island for more than two thousand years. The area is called La Juderia and the synagogue is called the Kahal Shalom Synagogue. The town is a UNESCO designated site. Do not miss the chance to witness this jewel if a city with its pale stone buildings which tell the history of the region.
Some places to see in the town are the Grand Master’s Palace, which was rebuilt by the Italians in 1940, the Acropolis of Rhodes, the Fort of St. Nicholas and the deer mounted on two columns on either side of the entrance to the entrance to Mandraki harbour and the windmills.
Museums in Rhodes include:The Archaeological Museum of Rhodes,The Grand Master’s Palace,The Rhodes Aquarium which is a museum and an aquarium and the Rhodes Jewish Museum, the Decorative Arts Collection and the Rhodes Municipal Gallery.
Please check the Hellenic Ministry of Culture site for more details: http://odysseus.culture.gr/index_en.html
Old Rhodes has a Mediaeval Festival of the Rose at the end of May, usually during the last weekend. Its purpose is to capture the feel of Rhodes in Mediaeval times. You will see such things as jesters and fire-eaters and be able to attend banquets. The festival commences with a parade through the old town, starting from the castle, the participants and dressed up as knights while the old town is suitably adorned.The festival is organised by experts in social sciences and the arts in order to make the proceedings a true to life as possible whilst artisans, musicians, actors and a plethora of volunteers participate in creating a worthy event.
Next June 2009 there will be the Rhodes Ecofilms Festival http://www.ecofilms.gr/ which is an international festival.
Each year, the Rhodes cultural summer festival is held at various locations in Rhodes Town from June until September. Music, theatre and dance are featured. One of the most spectacular locations is the Mediaeval Moat Theatre.
Rhodes Town also holds a Sound and Light programme in the gardens of the palace from April to October. It narrates the story of the Knights of St. John.
The International Opera Festival in the Courtyard of the Grand Master from the 20th to the 30th July.
The International Dance Festival is held from 20th to 30th August annually.
One week after the Greek Orthodox Easter from Wednesday to Sunday is the International Choir Festival.
Each year in the latter part of September the Days of Music festival is held. It features music from countries globally and includes all types of music.
Archangelos holds a series of cultural events as well as a book fair. The events include talks and dance performances.
At Afandou during August, a series of concerts, dance performances and theatrical events are held.
Lalyssos also has a festival during the second part of August. There are sports and cultural events which include dance, choral concerts and art exhibitions.
Lindos holds various events in the summer highlighting local dance and song.
In Kallithea, World Tourism Day on the 27th September is held all over the municipality and features music and dance and a firework display.
During the summer, the municipality also organises cultural events which include music, dance and theatre.
The Petaloudes municipality also celebrates World Tourism Day on the 27th September with one area, Theologos prolonging the event to four days.
The Municipality of Southern Rhodes has a concert on the beach at Kiotari in August.
Religious and traditional celebrations
Here are just a few, every village and church has its own celebrations.
Of note in Rhodes Town are the two religious celebrations of Agios Panteleimon on the 27th July and Agios Fanourios on the 27th August.
The Municipality of Archangelos hosts a traditional feast with popular music on 17th July for Agia Marina the 23rd August for Panagia Alemonitra (Eleimonitria) and on the 8th September for Panagia Tsambika and the 8th November for Archangel Michael.
The Municipality of Afandou celebrates the Epiphany on 6th January by casting a large crucifix into the sea. Major feasts are those of Agios Georgios on the 23rd April, the Dormition of the Virgin on 15th August on the beach at Katholiki and Agios Lukas, the patron saint, on 18th October.
Some religious feasts that stand out in Lindos are on the 20th of May at Tharri Monastery in Laerma, on the 28th of June at Agii Apostoli Monastery at Lindos, on the 6th of July at Agia Kyriaki Monastery in Kalathos, on the 14th of August at Lindos when the Virgin Mary (Panagia) is remembered and on the 22nd of August at the Panagia Ipseni Monastery.
Major celebrations also take place on the 4th of May for Agia Irini in Lachania,on the 16th of July for Agia Marina in Apolakkia and on the 20th of July for Agios Filimonas where, in Arnitha village, food and drink are served.
In Kattavia the feast of Agia Paraskevi takes place on the 26th of July, Agios Panteleimon over the three days from the 25th – to the 27th of July and at Istrios there is a major celebration on the 15th of August for the Virgin Mary.
Many areas in Rhodes also celebrate carnival which is Greece is held during the period leading up to Lent and is a movable feast.