Rhodes Trivia

Note: if any of the links on this page don't work any longer, I'd be grateful if you would let me know. It's a virtual impossibility to keep up with all of them - thanks.

Here you'll find all kinds of trivia that the visitor to Rhodes may like to know about. Just about any fact, any statistic, or any interesting tidbit about places and people on Rhodes will be added to this page. So, consequently, it's a page that will continue to grow indefinitely.

Incidentally, there's an interesting Facebook group you may like to check out if history is your thing. It's called "Friends of Rhodes History" and that's the link right there.

If you have some item of trivia about Rhodes that you'd like to share, please send it through. My e-mail address can be found by clicking under "The Culprit/View My Complete Profile" way down in the left-hand column. There are a lot of links on this page too, but some may well have expired. if you do find one that doesn't work any more, I'd be grateful if you'd message me to let me know, thanks.

Subheadings so far...
• Population
• Size of Rhodes
• Places
• Weather 
• Movies and TV 
• Miscellaneous stuff 

• Population
Entire island: 110,000
Rhodes Town: 55,000

Largest village, Arhangelos: 6,000. (some class it as a town, in which case it would fall third in size after Rhodes Town and Trianta/Ialysos)
  Arhangelos Municipality, including villages of Malona and Massari, 7,900.

Second largest town, after Rhodes Town: Ialysos/Trianta: 10,500

• Size of Rhodes
Land area: 1401 sq. Kilometres.
Length: 79km
Width (widest point): 38km
Coastline: 220km

Other Numerical Stuff...
Greeks use the comma where the rest of Europe uses a stop, and visa versa. This can lead to confusion. for example, 10,000 in Greek would read 10.000; while €100.00 would read €100,00 in Greek. Careful when shopping!!

 
 
Map courtesy of http://www.faliraki-info.com/rodosmap.htm

• Places


Asklipio Village
Contrary to many assertions, the castle above this village was not built by the Knights, but more likely by the Venetians, circa 1300-1400. There was some debate about which village would build it, between Asklipio, Gennadi, Vati, and Lahania, with the final decision coming from the local magistrate to build it above Asklipio. The Venetians were the remnants of the Byzantine empire and still had skirmishes with the Crusader Knights long into the Knights' period of occupation of these isles. The castle's purpose was defence for the villagers against marauding pirates. It's a great place to scramble about, affording anyone who stands on its walls a 360º view.

Asklipio village has a unique claim to fame on the island and it relates to longevity. Up until about 1950, the life expectancy of Asklipians was 60-65 years, whereas the rest of the island could manage only 50-60. Locals put it down to the village's position on the hillside, affording it clean, dry air and a drier climate. Rains notwithstanding, the humidity is lower the further up this mountain one goes. It also appears that Asklipians stayed fit and healthy much further into their "old age" too. There was also a spring in the village (since been moved) which was said to be the source of water of a higher quality than those of many of the lower surrounding villages.

Whatever you believe about the above, the village merits a visit. The old streets display many original stone ovens, still in use today. There are old women in black with their headscarves tied tight even in the heat of the high summer and cats lolling off of doorsteps and windowsills in the shade of climbing bougainvillea. Basil plants grow and perfume the air in many a courtyard and there are several excellent traditional tavernas, all either right on the square or just off it. The viilage's museum too, which is free to enter, is well worth a browse. It's right next to the recently restored Byzantine church in the square.

Butterfly Valley
Greek, Petaloudes (soft "D". like the "th" in the word "worthy")

Firstly, they're not actually butterflies, they're a subspecies of the Jersey Tiger Moth, Latin name, here goes… Euplagia quadripunctaria rhodosensis. Bet you didn't really want to know that bit, eh?

Why so many in the one valley? It's due a a type of tree that they rather love, the Storax or Oriental Sweetgum tree, Latin name, off we go again …Liquidibar Orientalis. There, that wasn't so bad as the moths' name was it?

Life cycle:
July-August: mature butterflies (moths!) mate in the valley. They are to be seen in their thousands settled on rocks or the above-mentioned trees.

September:
They lay their eggs, once more under the leaves and on the trunks of the Storax tree. Although in further flung areas too.

Spring:
The cocoons break open and the young butterflies appear. They fly back to the valley if they've hatched elsewhere, mainly during the night hours. They have no stomach, and live entirely off their own body fat, which is why they need to conserve as much energy as possible for finding a mate and breeding.

IMPORTANT, IF YOU VISIT THE VALLEY
The butterflies, although you probably wouldn't guess from the number you'll see flying in high summer, have been drastically reduced in number during recent years. One estimate says that about 700,000 visitors come to the valley during one season. It's not particularly the fact that the people come that's the problem; it's the visitors who make noise, like clapping, shouting or even throwing stones at the butterflies to make them move, that's threatening their survival. Each time they are disturbed they expend energy, thus shortening their lifespan and hence the time they'll have available in which to mate.

For this reason it's so important that visitors understand and respect the need to let these delicate creatures rest. Let them fly when they want to, not because we want to see a cloud of them for our own gratification. It's showing ecological responsibility to keep quiet whilst enjoying this little piece of Eden on a Rhodean hillside.


The Colossus (Mandraki, Rhodes Town)
Before you start looking, it's gone now, of course! A lot of dispute rages over the details about the Colossus.* Fact - it did actually exist. And...
• The Colossus was a depiction of Helios, the ancient sun god.
• It was erected 292-280 before Christ. 
• It almost certainly never stood astride the harbour entrance, but rather to one side nearby. In fact, the preferred location of many archaeologists now is up near the Temple of Apollo at the Rhodes Acropolis.
• Architect and designer - Chares, from Lindos.
• It was 30 metres (98.4 ft) high, one of the highest structures of the ancient world. To help you visualise it, it was the same height, more or less as this baby...



• It only stood for 56 years, until an earthquake in 226 BC brought it down.
• It was constructed mainly of bronze.
• The remains lay on the ground for 800 years!
• Each of the fallen statue's fingers was larger than a man.
• In 653 an Arab force who'd captured Rhodes sold the remains for scrap to a Jewish merchant. What an ignominious end to such a great wonder of the ancient world.

*The link is to a fascinating video on Youtube, with animation, showing how it was built and why it eventually fell down.

Filerimos: 
About 8km south of Rhodes Town. Filerimos is near the village of Ialysos, down the West coast from Rhodes Town. It's signposted from the main road near the Police station at Trianta.

In 1876 excavations revealed fragments of Mycenaean pottery. There was a Doric foundation and a Hellenistic temple of Athena Polias there several centuries BC. In 1309 the Knights of St. John arrived and built on the site of Ialysos. Later it passed to the Turks and finally to the Italians. The knights stayed 213 years. Suleimon the Magnificent, the Ottaman Emperor, finally drove them off the island in December of 1522. Their last foothold on Rhodes was Feraklos Castle, near the coastal village of Haraki.

The Monastery up at Filerimos was destroyed under the Turks and later rebuilt by the Italians who installed Capuchin monks in it. They built lovely walkways and quiet corridors. The monks made a quite excellent cocktail which you may still enjoy today. The huge stone cross which is visible from the airport road is in fact hollow. It stands on a huge oval terrace and you can go up inside it, if you're not too claustrophobic, and walk out along its arms in the open air. needless to say the view are amazing...



Turkey can be seen across the water


On the Cross - if you get what I mean!!


Halki is the smallest inhabited island of the Dodecanese chain. Permanent population 330. Details about how to get there can be found on the Nearby Islands page.

Kleoboulos' Tomb, Lindos
This is a good piece about the tomb on the headland across the bay from Lindos Village, which ia also the setting for some pivotal scenes in the novel "The View From Kleoboulos".

For a walk out to the tomb, click here.

Kritinia
If you take the boat trip to Halki, you will see quite soon after departing from Kamiros Skala an impressive fortress above left on the crag. This castle was built in 1472 and on the hill behind it is the village of Kritinia, which means "New Crete" after Cretans who'd moved here when the Turks ruled their own island. Its purpose was protection from Ottoman invaders.


Apparently the village was originally located at the site of modern Kamiros Skala, but was moved up into the mountainside because of frequent pirate invasions.

The village today has a population of around 600, which includes the area around Kamiros Skala.

Lindos
Arguably one of the prettiest and most evocative locations in the Aegean, Lindos village is steeped in history. Inhabited for nearly 3,000 years, it's still a living, working village during winter time. The permanent population of the village and its surrounding area is an amazing 3,600, although the village itself supports about 1,000. The village gets its name from the goddess who was worshipped up on the acropolis there some 900 years before Christ. She was called Lindia Athena.

Four different "powers" have built fortifications up there: the Greeks, the Romans, The Crusader Knights and the Byzantines. The current battlements are the ones built by the Crusader Knights.
 
Paradisi
This is the village right next to the airport. But prior to the Knights arriving on Rhodes, rich Arabs who had invaded Rhodes had brought with them beautiful, exotic flowers from their countries, and these they planted in the area. The results were magnificent – thanks to the sunny conditions of the island, the plants flourished and the region acquired a reputation as a Paradise garden. This is how the village acquired its name of Paradisi, which is indeed old-Greek for paradise. 

Sadly, with the coming of the airport, it can scarcely be described as such these days. However, for those wishing to give it a try, there are still some nice old corners in the village for the persistent searcher to discover.

Prasonisi 
- is the island at the far Southern tip of Rhodes. It's actually connected most of the time to the Rhodean "mainland" by a few hundred metres of sandbar, which only becomes submerged rarely, usually in wintertime when the seas are high, or on the occasional spring tide. The name Prasonisi means "Green Isle" from the two words Pra'sino [green] Nisi [island].

It is often said that to the right of the sandbar is the Aegean and to the left is the Mediterranean, since Rhodes is unofficially the spot where the two seas meet. Frequently, though, boat cruises along the east coast are called "Aegean" cruises anyway. Due to the prevailing winds being from the North and West, one can usually see white-caps along which kite surfers dip and flip to the right (West and North) and a flat calm sea on which sunbathers float on their lilos to the left (East and South).

Rhodes Old Town
...is officially the best preserved medieval town in Europe, with the intact walls still being predominantly original, rather than a re-construction as you'd find for example at Carcassone in South-West France.

Built by the Crusader Knights, who officially took possession of the island in 1307. They were driven off the island (as mentioned above) in December of 1522, thus their period of occupation lasted for 215 years, during which they built most of the fortifications all over the island.


• Weather
A lot of people ask about the winter here on Rhodes. Ask a Greek and they'll say that the winter weather is "unpleasant". They would wouldn't they. They've never lived in northern Europe!

My reply when I'm asked is that a Rhodean winter is like a good British summer. Having kept a record for the first five years of our residency here, we found that we never once had more than 9 rain days in any one calendar month during the winter. Every week there are sunny days when you can sit outside with a polo shirt on and sip a frappé. When it rains it does rain, usually accompanied by thunder and lightning. The beauty is though, it seldom lasts for long. You can get water-spouts, usually out at sea, and these can be scary.

Temperatures:
Sunny days in January (for example) - 18-21ºC
Cloudy or rainy days in January - 14-18ºC
Overnight norms, December-March - 10-13ºC
Occasional cold snap (a few days at a time usually) may drop to 5-8ºC

(Incidentally, never believe the temperatures that the BBC gives on their weather page for Rhodes. They're consistently about 5º down on the actual temperatures. Maybe it's because they only deal with a weather station at the airport, but that's just my theory)

It's official, Rhodes receives on average from 300 to 330 days of sunshine each year, making it one of the sunniest places on the planet. 

An interesting page of weather facts about Rhodes is HERE. It'll tell you the driest month, the wettest month, the hottest, the coolest and so on too.

• Movies and TV
OK, so just about everyone knows that in 1961 the movie "The Guns of Navarone" was shot on Rhodes. But not a lot of people know that another war movie was shot almost exclusively at Kalithea Spa in 1979, with a few scenes also being shot at the Lindos Acropolis and Platia Evreon Martiron in the Old Town. The movie was called "Escape to Athena" and starred Roger Moore, Telly Savallas, David Niven, Stephanie Powers and a few more famous names of the era too. "Escape to Athena" is a bit of fun and was shot before the recent restoration (obviously) of the pavilions at Kalithea Spa. Nevertheless, if you've visited this most beautiful of Rhodean spots you'll easily recognise the locations whilst watching the film.

Fans of the David Suchet version of Agatha Christie's Poirot will also probably know that a complete episode of the series was once shot on Rhodes. The episode was originally entitled "Triangle at Rhodes" and was shot in 1989. Last time I checked, you could watch the whole episode on this Youtube page. You can also watch it for free on Amazon as part of a free month's trial of their "Prime Instant Video" service.

For a whole bunch of other stuff filmed here on Rhodes, this web page is a great place to start. What's great there too is that every title is a link to more info. Fab for movie or TV fans. 

• Miscellaneous Stuff

I Don't Mind If I Do...
• If you're over here on holiday and you want to perhaps buy a bottle of wine to drink in your room, on your villa's terrace, by the pool, secretly in your bedroom without the others knowing etc., you'll find that there's a bewildering array of choice in virtually every supermarket's drinks section. May I make a suggestion? While you're browsing, look for bottles that carry the C.A.I.R. label. 

C.A.I.R. is the Rhodean wine cooperative and has been going since 1928. Any bottle carrying the letters C.A.I.R. somewhere on the label is produced right here on Rhodes. Don't believe anything you hear about Rhodean wines not being up to scratch, they've even won awards.

Check out the C.A.I.R. Facebook page HERE. Their website seems to be only in Greek at the moment, so it may be a good idea to bookmark it and check back again some time.

Other sites that refer to C.A.I.R. -

All About Greek Wine
Greek Wine Portal
CAIR on Facebook
Rhodes Private Tours


• How Many Islands?
There are 26 inhabited islands in the Dodecanese, which is the group of islands to which Rhodes not only belongs, but serves as the main administrative centre as well.

Dodecanese, or Dodecanisos literally means "Twelve Islands", so how come there are 26 inhabited islands in the chain? Well, there are in fact 150 if you include the uninhabited ones too! The reason the group, or archipelago is called "Twelve Islands" is primarily because there are twelve main islands in the chain.

Check out this map to see the main ones that are inhabited and their "prefectures" or jurisdictional districts.

• Knock Your Socks Off
The tiny, pretty village of Siana (Sianna) up in the hills not far from Embona (pronounced eh'bonna) is famous for two things. No, three (Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition! get it? Ah well...) -

1. It makes arguably the best thyme and wild flower honey on the island.
2. The locals weave and sell some very nice rugs at reasonable prices.
3. It's the only place on the island where they make and sell Souma. What is Souma you cry? It's a clear spirit that would probably run your car if you put it in the tank, or perhaps strip the paint off that antique pine chest you've been meaning to restore and haven't got round to yet. You'll get plenty of offers to sample the stuff in all the stores in the village, but be warned, you probably won't be driving legally once you've done so if you do that more than once! To be honest, I don't much like it, but they do sell a version with a little honey in it and that one, well, it's a different story your honour.
   The alcohol content can be 35 to 45%, so be warned! 
   Souma isn't distilled in any factories, it's only made by individuals or families. I've heard tell that Siana is the only village where it's actually legal to produce it on Rhodes, but can't verify that I'm afraid.

Here's a link to one website of someone in Siana who makes Souma.

Pelicans? On Rhodes?
It may puzzle visitors, especially to the south of the island, that there are several businesses, mainly tavernas or the like, called "Pelican", or "Pelican's Nest" and the like. Are there indeed pelicans on Rhodes? Well, whilst the Great White Pelican is an occasional resident of the eastern Med, it's more likely you'll see storks here, which do nest and breed in many parts of Greece. Pelicans however, are extremely rare visitors.

So why then does the name "Pelican" crop up on Rhodes? The answer has to do with the island's history and its language. the Greek word "pelecanos" literally means "axeman" and thus it becomes clear that the surname "Pelecanos", which is common for example in the village of Asklipio, refers to the means of living of the antecents of these contemporaries, who were tree-fellers when the forests were much more extensive here than they are now.

Interestingly, in the Bible book of Revelation, chapter 20 verse 4, it refers to "the souls of those who had been beheaded", which in the ancient Greek reads literally "those executed with the axe" and in the Koine [ancient] Greek the word for axe is "peleki".

It just keeps coming folks, please check back again soon!

10 comments:

  1. Just what I need, and many others probably!
    Vicki

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  2. What's with the 'a' gin and tonic!?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hic, sorry Occifer, she's not half a drunk as tinkle peep she is...

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  3. re Triangle at Rhodes
    Go to www.watchseries.lt
    In the search bar type Poirot
    Then click on the 1st link & then click season 1 episode 6
    This will then give you links to several players with the episode
    just choose one of those & off you go

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    Replies
    1. That's extremely helpful. Thanks Trevor.

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  4. I remember the film Escape to Athena but never Knew where on Rhodes it was shot. There were some scenes at a Monastery under a cliff(?). Where exactly was this?

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  5. Fascinating blog John. During a recent visit to Rhodes Town, we discussed a shot of a Jay with a black crown. According to a birding expert mate of mine, it appears that your island is home to the Middle Eastern subspecies or Kramer's Jay. Every day we live and learn!

    Jeff O'Reilly ( the birdwatching geek from S Wales)

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for the feedback Jeff. I'd love more info because I can't seem to find anything about a Kramer's Jay on Google!

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