The island of Rhodes, which sits in the eastern part of the Mediterranean Sea, offers a rich history along with incredible natural beauty. There are plenty of places to visit and things to do in Rhodes island that make it the perfect holidays destination. What follows are 51 facts you may don’t know about the island!
1. Origins: According to Greek myth, the island of Rhodes was originally the sun god named Helios. He felt in love with a nymph named Rhodes, who transformed herself into an island when his sunlight touched her skin. In the Greek language, “Rhodes” means “rose” which describes the island quite well as it is covered in flowers.
2. Founder: Although, who was the first on the island of Rhodes arguably dates back to pre-historic times with their name being lost? Greek myth claims that Tlepolemus, one of Hercules’ sons, founded the first settlement on the island and was worshipped by the people.
3. Famous Statue: The extremely tall, Colossus of Rhodes, was considered as one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.
4. Colossus Leftovers: After Arabs conquered the island of Rhodes, in the 7th century BC, dismantled Colossus leftovers and sold it as scrap metal. It needed approximately 900 camels to carry away all of it!
5. Connection to the Statue of Liberty: The famed Statue of Liberty is roughly the same size and weight of the Colossus of Rhodes, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. The Colossus was estimated to weigh about 225 tons.
6. Not Called Colossus: Sir John Mandeville was not correct when he reported that the island of Rhodes was once known as “Colossus”. His error was probably due to a combination of St. Paul’s Epistle to the Colossians along with the presence of the “Colossus of Rhodes” which was a massive statue that was on the island.
7. Cleobulus of Lindos: Lindos village served as the home of Cleobulus, one of ancient Greece’s Seven Sages. He was considered a tyrant and was also a poet. A walk to the tomb made in his honor is of the best things to do in Lindos.
8. Diagoras of Rhodes: A popular ancient boxer, Diagoras was the father of the family of Diagoridae, the biggest Olympic winner. His sons and grandsons were winners in the Olympics as well.
9. Kallipateira: The daughter of Diagoras, Kallipatera was the very first woman who was able to watch the Olympic Games. She wasn’t sentenced to death by the judges because of the glorious men in her family.
10. Leonidas of Rhodes: While it is unknown, Leonidas of Rhodes was among the best sprinters of all time. Winning three sports for four consecutive Olympiads and keeping his record for over 2,160 years. Only Michael Phelps broke his record in 2016.
11. Hipparchus of Nicaea: Hipparchus was born in Nicaea but lived most part of his life and died in his favourite beach of Rhodes island. He is well known to scientists and considered as the ”father” of astronomy. He is the one who divided the year into days!
12. Maria Malandri: A patriot from the village of Monolithos, Maria Malandri was part of World War II where she assisted partisans by accommodating them in the cave called Cave of the Spies.
13. Exclusivity: Rhodes enjoys the exclusivity of being the sole ancient city that hosted one of the Seven Sages of Ancient Greece and one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World at the same time.
14. Antikithira Mechanism: There are many indications that the Antikithera mechanism was constructed in Rhodes. The island had a rich technological tradition, which began with the prehistoric Telchines and reached its apogee in the early 3rd BC century with the construction of the Colossus.
15. Connection to America: Although a legend, it has been reported that the state of Rhode Island in the U.S. was named after Rhodes. The explorer Giovanni da Verrazzano, who was of Italian descent, was the first European to view what would become Rhode Island. He saw a small island sitting in what became Narragansett Bay and thought it looked similar to Rhodes. So, that is what he called it, and the name stuck.
16. Strongest Earthquake: There is a somewhat unpleasant record in Rhodes Island. The strongest earthquake that ever hit Greece occurred in 1926 that destroyed thousands of buildings and took the lives of hundreds of people. An earthquake with a magnitude of 8.0 was felt all over Mediterranean area.
17. The Greek Hollywood: Numerous celebrities passed from this island that is a favorite location for famous scenes and movies. Rhodes was highlighted in many 60s movies, making it one of the most popular tourist destinations in Greece.
18. UNESCO World Heritage Site: The Old Town that is part of Rhodes was named a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1988.
19. Different Names: Rhodes island acquired many names through its long history. Almost always, these names was determined by the island s features or its history. Ancient names of Rhodes were Ofiousa, Trinakria, Ataviria, Ethria or Asteria, Korimvia, Ilias, Telchinis, Pelaghia, Makaria, Pontia, Stadia, Oloesa, Poiessa. In modern times, Rhodes has taken the names of ”Emerald island”, ”Knights island” and ”Island of the Sun”.
20. Winged Victory: Although many may associate the word “NIKE” with a certain shoe company. It is a Greek word for “winged victory“. The famous NIKE swoosh is believed to be the wing of a goddess. A statue created in 190 BC of the goddess celebrates a victory by the Rhodes navy.
21. Trojan War: The navy of Rhodes contributed 9 ships to the Greek navy during Trojan War.
22. Magellan‘s Crew: There were three sailors from Rhodes who joined and survived among Magellan’s crew after its initial circumnavigation of the world.
23. Roman Maritime Law: Maritime Law was first written by the Lindians which later became known as Rhodian law. The Romans then based their maritime law on Rhodian law which today is the foundation for modern maritime law.
24. Small Population: About 120,000 people live in the 43 towns and villages that dot the island. The central town of Rhodes is officially home to 50,636 residents as of 2011.
25. Awarded Beaches: The Municipality of Rhodes ranks, almost every year, in the 1st position for Blue Awarded Beaches in Rhodes island. Its main competitor is the Municipality of Chalkidiki.
26. See Turkey: The island is close enough to Turkey that you can see the country from the east coast. It’s relatively rare to visit another country so close that it is practically a stone’s throw away. Turkey is well within sight on a clear day. Of course, distance is not the only link between Greece and Turkey.
27. Limestone: This is the main bedrock found in Rhodes.
28. Size: It covers an area of 1,401 km², which makes it the 4th biggest island of Greece right after Crete (8,336km²), Evboia (1,417km²) and Lesbos (630km²). The air distance between its northernmost point (Aquarium at Rhodes town) and the southernmost one (Prasonisi beach) is approximately 77km. A ride by car lasts a bit less than 1,5 hour as the east coast route length is approximately 92km
29. Location: Rhodes is approximately 363 km (226 miles) east-south-east from the mainland of Greece. But only 18 km (11 miles) from Turkey.
30. Champion of survival: Ghizani fish is a little native freshwater fish and considered as a champion of survival. It can found in lakes as well as streams. Sadly, it is endangered due to human activities such as pollution and improper irrigation.
31. Dama-Dama: Dama-Dama is a remarkable deer native to Rhodes. It is the emblem of the island and is quite rare. The Dama-Dama is a protected species and lives in the forest of Rhodes. It is a remarkable animal to see if visitors get the chance.
32. Rich Ecosystems: The different national parks including Mt. Profitis Elias, Seven Springs, and Butterfly Valley are part of Natura 2000. The Natura 2000 is the biggest network of the naturally protected areas in the European Union.
33. Liquidambar Orientalis: Commonly known as oriental sweetgum, Liquidambar orientalis is a tree native to Rhodes island and southwestern Turkey. Its aromatic resin is the answer to the large numbers of butterflies at Butterfly Valley, as they adore it.
34. Miniature Horse: The Rhodian Pony or miniature horse found in Rhodes island and considered to be among the smallest in the world. They are also endangered species as nowadays only a few remain. These few remaining ponies live in a controlled reproduction area in Archagelos village under the supervision of an association for their protection called Phaethon.
35. Caves: Rhodes Island is dotted with numerous caves waiting to be explored. The most popular include Kalamonias at Kalithies village, Nimfaia at acropolis of Rhodes, Koumelou at Arhaggelos, Makarounas at Salakos Village, the Cave of the Spies, Traounou at Afandou Beach, and Fourni located at Fourni Beach near Monolithos Castle.
36. Prasonisi: The unusual island of Prasonisi lies along the southern coast of Rhodes, but only for part of the year. It is because during the summer the waters become low enough to reveal a land connection between Prasonisi and the main island. But during the winter the waters rise, and Prasonisi becomes an island again.
38. Rodini Park: Rodini Park is considered from many archaeologists as the first landscaped park in the world. Remnants of civilization have been found around which date to the Hellenistic period (200 B.C.).
39. Hellenistic Bridge: One of the two country’s oldest bridges is located in Rhodes town. The narrow bridge connects Kallithea Avenue with St. Dimitrios area in Rhodes town beside the location of farmers market. It construction dates as far back as the early Hellenistic era or 4th century BC.
40. Highest mountain: Attaviros mountain is the highest in all of Rhodes as well as in the region of Dodecanese. It reaches 1,215 meters high.
41. Holiday Mecca: Given its natural beauty, accessibility, and rich history, about 75% of Rhodes’ economy is derived from tourism. It has become a mecca for many in Europe, particularly those from the northern areas that are searching for a bright, warm place to be no matter the time of the year.
42. UNESCO World Heritage Site: The Old Town that is part of Rhodes was named a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1988.
43. Archaeological sites and museums: Acropolis of Lindos is the third most visited archaeological site of Greece. Just behind Acropolis of Athens and Knossos of Crete! Also, the Palace of Grand Masters in Rhodes Medieval town is the fourth most visited Greek museum. Definitely must visit places!
44. Hotels: When wondering what to do in Rhodes, you won’t have to worry about where to stay. There are about 550 hotels on the island with most of them being 2-star.
45. Hotel No1: Found on the northernmost tip of the island, Hotel Grande Albergo Delle Rose was Rhodes’ first ever hotel that started its operations on the 24th of May 1927 when the Italians still rule the island.
46. Over One Million Tourists: Every year, over a million tourist, visit the island of Rhodes, making it the second most visited island in all of Greece. In 2019, the number exceeded the 2 millions!
47. Vineyards: Rhodes’ vineyards produce 19 different Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) wines. Taste them through a wine tasting tour in Rhodes island.
48. Sparkling Wine: Rhodes island is the home to the one and only winery in Greece that uses French method for producing sparkling wine.
49. Local Dishes: There are plenty of traditional foods to try in Rhodes available which include the following. The most famous between them are the Pitaroudia and Giaprakia. But, there are a lot of others too, like the Tsiriggia, Pougia and Lakani, the Kapamas lamb, the Koppia with goat, the Makarounia, the Matsi and the Koulouria. Also, the Tsouvras, the Sivrasi, the Giachni, Ladopita, Tachinopita and a traditional cheese called Sinoro. As well the easter dishes of Paskati and Kefalopoda Lambris.
50. Alcoholic Beverages: Like Souma and Koriantolino.
51. Sweets: Also, you will find a variaty of many tasty pastries like the nutritious Melekouni, the Fanouriopita, the Mouchalebi, the Takakia, the Escharitis, the Amigdalota, the Mantinades, and the Moshchipougi.
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