Rhodes Town and the Northern Coast

When we stayed in Rhodes we spend half the time at an AirBnB in Pefki and the other half at and AirBnB in Rhodes town. While in Rhodes town we spent most of our time walking from our place to the close suburbs or the old town. In spite of the intense heat we covered a lot of ground.

The principal town of Rhodes. Our AirBNB was located in the circled area, just a 20 minute walk to the old town to the north

Walking from the less touristy parts of Rhodes towards the old town was interesting, as we passed the largely unexcavated ruins of earlier times sandwiched between modern low-rise apartment blocks. It was a really interesting sight, and indicated a lot more history was still lurking beneath the quiet streets of the outer sections of the town.

Ruins could be seen in various places of Rhodes town

The town of Rhodes developed into a successful economic and cultural power in ancient times, and even had its own coins circulating throughout the Mediterranean. It was also a centre of philosophy, science, and literature, with a number of schools on the island. Rhodian sculptors were known far and wide, and carved a famous piece called the Laocoön group which is now in the Vatican Museums.

In 164 BC, Rhodes became client state of Rome. Under the emperor Diocletian (reigned 284–305) the city was the capital of a Roman province. Controlled by subsequent empires down the centuries, the island eventually returned to Greek rule.

Old town map

The first day we spent in Rhodes town was early evening so we just checked out the outer walls of the old town and briefly looked in.

The walls from the west side (town side)
The western entrance
The inner walls

The next day we did a full tour of the old town. This time we came from the south-eastern side next to the beaches of Rhodes town. These beaches were in a high traffic area but there were a few swimmers in the water.

Small swimming area near the old town

We took the northeast corner entrance and made our way between the outer and inner walls to start. It was very quiet here although there was no escape from the sun.

Checking out the walls from a different location
Entering the shopping area

One within the inner walls, there were shops and restaurants along with medieval ruins to see. Some areas were quiet and residential while others hummed with life.

The northern entrance

We had lunch at one of the restaurants in the old town. Many were touristy with the touts trying to get the tourists to stop and sit down but it wasn’t too expensive and the food was fine.

Enjoying beer in a boot
Kim reaching out for some cool water

While most areas were busy with tourists, it was easy to find quieter areas away from the crowds. We walked up and down those streets before heading back to the

Remains of the Temple of Aphrodite from the 3rd Century BC

To the north of the old town was a narrow point with some other sights to see. Most notable were the traditional windmills along the way. With the July heat being intense and little shade around. this area afforded a nice breeze that was absent in the town.

The walls of the old town behind us to the south

The other site in this area was the possible location of the Colossus of Rhodes. Having read about the seven ancient wonders as a kid (and having built them many times in the computer game Civilization), I looked forward to seeing them in person.

We had visited the pyramids and they were better than expected. However, there was no lighthouse when we visited Alexandria and the Temple of Artemis was down to a single pillar when we visited a few years ago. As it turned out, the Colossus would be another letdown.

According to most sources, the Colossus stood approximately 33 metres (108 feet) high. It was approximately the height of the modern Statue of Liberty from feet to crown – making it the tallest statue in the ancient world. In 226 BC the statue collapsed due to an earthquake, although parts of it remained at the time. Following the pronouncement of an oracle, the Rhodians did not build it again. The remains of the Colossus lay on the ground for over 800 years. Even though they were broken, they were so impressive that many people travelled to the island just to see them. In 653, an Arab force conquered Rhodes. At that time the statue was completely destroyed and the remains sold.

Arist’s conception of the colossus from Groiler’s Book of Knowledge (1911). It’s unlikely the Colossus actually straddled the harbour

Although there is some dispute, locals believe the present harbour entrance between two small pillars is the original location of the ancient wonder. It was a far cry from the mighty statue that once stood above the harbour.

Possible former location of the Colossus of Rhodes between the short pillars

Another ancient wonder that didn’t measure up to the stories! On the bright side, a weeks later we would get to visit another of the ancient wonders: the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus in Bodrum Turkey. While it was mostly a ruin, at least there was something to see.

Apart from the town itself, we also checked out the area immediately west of it. We had the rental car for one day while in Rhodes town so we did a day trip along the north coast of Rhodes. We drove past busy beachside hotels and resorts and the airport as we made our way to Kameiros, located about 40 minutes away. After about 20 minutes of driving it was much quieter with few cars on the road.

Kameiros and Filerimos

Kameiros (also Camirus or Kamiros) was a powerful town in ancient times. It was part of a triad with Lindos and Ialyssos that formed the city-state of Rhodes in the 5th century BC.

Entering Kameiros

Built on three levels, it had a middle terrace that consisted of a grid of parallel streets and residential blocks. Among the many other structures was a Doric temple on the lower temple as well as an Agora in front of it.

Excavations on the site first began in 1852 and went on until 1864. A number of the items found there are now kept in the British Museum. In 1928 the Italian Archaeological School worked on the site and did a systematic excavation that lasted until the end of the Second World War.

It was a large site and had an excellent view of the Aegean

After visiting the ruins, we had a bite to eat at a taverna overlooking Kamiros Beach. We didn’t bring any clothes for swimming and regretted it a bit as the water looked great. Apart from drinks we only had a yogurt and a three-dip appetizer with warm pita but it was quite good.

On the way back we took a different way and stopped off at a popular sightseeing spot up a winding mountain drive. Located just above the second largest town of Ialysos, the monastery of Filerimos was just 15km (9 miles) from Rhodes town and 267m (875 ft) up.

As it turned out, we were unable to see the monastery because the credit card reader wasn’t working and we didn’t have enough cash. I later found reviews online that also mentioned the credit card reader not working so it appeared to be an ongoing issue. So we weren’t able to experience the monastery and ruins from ancient and medieval times. Instead, we took some of the quiet walkways that didn’t require the entrance fee.

The walking paths had a spiritual purpose at the monastery but also served as a nice way to enjoy views of the surrounding countryside. One path led to a giant cross with excellent viewpoints behind it.

Excellent views of the north coast from the top

While it was busier than Kos, we had a good time in Rhodes. Renting the car was important, as it didn’t limit our ability to see the quieter parts of the island. The south and south-western roads were almost empty, and it allowed us to visit tiny towns, ruins, monasteries and quiet beaches. Pefkos was touristy and fun as was Rhodes town. We now prepared to take a ferry to the next stage of our trip: Fethiye, Turkey.

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