Tuesday – October 11, 2011 –
Around 8 a.m. this morning, we arrived at the Greek Island of Rodos, or Rhodes. For centuries the island has been at the crossroads of history where western and eastern civilizations collided. I studied about Rhodes in college and was curious to learn more about its connections to the Crusades and Knights Templar.
For the first time since leaving Peraeus, we actually anchored in the docks instead of offshore. Docked next to us was our beautiful but smaller sister ship, the Windstar, which had arrived after sailing from Istanbul and the Turkish Riviera. It was interesting to see how similar both ships we designed. Just beyond our slip on each side of the harbor were two stone platforms. It was here that one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World guarded the entrance to the harbor: the Colossus. The statue of the giant must have been huge – in fact sizably larger than the Statue of Liberty. He was built to symbolize Rhodian strength and wealth.
Just at the edge of the main road and the docks we saw the famous walls of Rhodes, still protecting the old city as they did for centuries. But for now, we had to catch our pre-booked $69 bus tour to the east side of the island to visit Lindos.
Along the scenic drive, we could see why Rhodes is renowned for its beauty. The island is mountainous but also boasts beautiful beaches. We admired the lush vegetation that included fig, lemon, olive and orange trees growing on the plains. We also saw beautiful roses and learned Rhodes is called the island of roses. We also enjoyed the commentary from our funny Greek guide, Jingas.
Not long afterwards we arrived in the picturesque town of Lindos, an important archaeological site for the nation. To begin our two-hour visit to Lindos, we split up today. Mom and Dad did a tour to St. Paul’s Bay, where the Apostle Paul landed in 51 AD to preach Christianity to the Rhodians. Jeff and did the more active walk up to the summit of the Acropolis of Lindos. Some people chose to ride a donkey up the climb, but that would have been too easy. At the top, I drank in the bluest waters I have ever seen as they teased us below the ancient Greek city. Many painters have been inspired by this view for generations. Below the Acropolis, we saw the old, whitewashed houses and narrow streets winding down below us to the Aegean.
On the Acropolis we saw a number of impressive ancient ruins. We visited the 4th-entury B.C. Doric Temple of Athena Lindia with its double-winged portico. Among the site, we also saw a Byzantine-era church and the fortifications of the Knights Templar. Lindos was rocked by a number of earthquakes over the centuries and lost its importance in 408 B.C. when the three ancient Doric cities of Ialissos, Lindos, and Kameros banded together in 408 B.C. form the new capital, Rhodes.
After rejoining our bus, we headed back down the coast to Rhodes. We returned on board and had sandwiches for lunch before leaving to explore Rhodes.
For the rest of the afternoon and evening, we spent our time visiting this historic walled city. Rhodes is only situated about 27 miles from Marmaris, Turkey. As such, it always held a strategic importance on the Crusaders route to the Holy Land. We followed their steps by walking down the Avenue of the Knights in Old Town.
Then we arrived at the Palace of Grand Master, today an archaeological museum. Jeff and I met up with Dad inside and we couldn’t believe the beauty of not only the mosaics and tapestry, but also the palace itself. Important figures like England’s King Richard the Lion Hearted resided here with other European kings, lords and knights before crossing into Turkey. In 1291, the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem took refuge on Rhodes and reigned for over two centuries. When the city surrendered to the Seljuk Turks in 1522, the knights left to establish their new headquarters on Malta where they still reside today.
We toured the town until sunset around 18:30 p.m. and then came back to get Mom. We strolled the Avenue of the Knights, which looked particularly dramatic lit up with its cobbled streets. We saw a number of “inns” named after different nations like Spain, England and France. During the Crusades, these building served as quarters for knights from different nations. Today, many of these buildings are still owned by those nations and some even serve as Greek consulates. We couldn’t believe how strongly the city of Rhodes was fortified. Its walls are nearly 36-feet thick and defended by a 63-foot-wide moat.
After doing some souvenir shopping, we couldn’t avoid buying some more baklava. I wanted to see how the Greek variety compared to the Turkish variety tomorrow. Upon rejoining the shop, we went to dinner. I had a fantastic pork tenderloin with medallions. To top it off, I had the signature Wind Surf coupe banana split – absolutely heavenly. Around 11 p.m., the Wind Surf pulled out of Rodos. It was a fantastic end to another spectacular day in the Greek Isles.