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Exploring Rhodes - Rose of the Aegean
By Andrew Regan
Rhodes was an important economic centre in the ancient world, now it attracts thousands of international visitors to its beaches every year. Located where the Aegean Sea meets the Mediterranean and famous for its 300 days of sunshine per year, the island is the ideal place for vacations.
The economy of the whole island is geared toward tourism. A trip to the Greek island of Rhodes conjures images of whitewashed walls, deep blue sky, olive groves, fig trees and azure Aegean waters but the popularity of its bustling party beaches Faliraki and Rhodes Town mean that the islandís interior, some of the sandy beaches in the South and rocky beaches in the North are almost forgotten.
It is possible to explore the unknown island independently but Rhodes is not a small island so some destinations will require you to drive an hour or more. The road network follows 220 km of coastline along the spearhead shaped east and west coasts. Roads are in good condition but many of them are narrow in points so car hire in Rhodes is preferable to hiring a scooter.
The City of Rhodes, built in 408 B.C. at the far end of the island, is the main starting point for anyone visiting Rhodes. It is ringed by sea on the east and west with ancient and modern commercial harbours. One of the Seven Wonders of the World, the Colossus of Rhodes, once stood in the ancient harbour until the large statue of Helios the sun god was destroyed by an earthquake in antiquity. The medieval city is now a World Heritage Site.
Most tourists head for Lindos which was once the capital of the island. Today it is a holiday resort centred on a small medieval village, topped with a fortified ancient Acropolis. The village contains many buildings dating from the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries with cobbled streets and white-stuccoed houses sloping down to the sea.
Some of the most beautiful sites on the island can be seen by driving in Rhodes. Mountain villages such as Embonas, Monolithos, Agios Isidoros, Mesanagros, and Psinthos are hidden from the coastal settlements. There they have old castles, churches and beautiful buildings and you can taste traditional dishes in small tavernas.
Other not to be missed sights include: the Valley of Butterflies where tiger moths gather in summer; Mount Attavyros the island's highest point of elevation; the Seven springs oasis of streams; and Rodini Park where you can still see parts of the ancient aqueduct system of Rhodes.
Rhodes may be renowned for its beautiful beaches but the island really does offer more for the independent traveller than sunbathing and moussaka.
Andrew Regan is an online journalist who enjoys socialising at his local Edinburgh cricket club.