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Rhodes Island, Greece-The Charm Of A Traditional Way Of Life
A World Long Gone
The Colossus Of Rhodes
Fortress Of Saint Nicholas
Saint Paul's Bay-Lindos
Food Of The Islands
Eating Out In Rhodes Island
Island Of Surprising Contrasts
Do you have a passion to gain an insight into other cultures, explore new places, meet new people and try new food.
You can gain a wonderful insight to a place, the people and their culture, learn historic facts and, enjoy the sights, sounds and smells and what it actually feels like to be there.
Visit museums, historic monuments and, the markets. Take cooking courses, learn a new language and enjoy traditional festivals.
You may want to visit traditional villages to experience an old fashioned way of life or, take a journey "off the beaten path".
The joy of new experiences, the excitement of going on a holiday and, the memories of good times is what travel is all about.
The World is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.
Rhodes Island:Famous worldwide, for the Colossus of Rhodes, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World and, for the World Heritage listed, 14th century, medieval Old Town of the Crusader Knights.
Its centuries old settings and many sightseeing delights include the Acropolis of Lindos, the Acropolis of Rhodes, the Temple of Apollo, ancient Ialyssos, ancient Kamiros, the Governor's Palace, the walled, medieval Old Town, the Palace of the Grand Masters and the Archeological Museum.
Some of the other wonderful attractions include Rhodes Town, Mandraki Harbor, Faliraki with the largest Water Park in Europe, Kalithea, Trianda, Ixia, Paradissi, Valley of the Butterflies, Seven Springs (Epta Piges) and, its forty three villages.
Ferry over to neighboring islands like Kos, Symi, Patmos and Kalymnos, swim in sandy and pebbled beaches or snorkel, yacht, kayak or windsurf in bays and coves that surround the island.
Travel into Rhodes interior to walk or mountain climb in tranquil settings amongst its hills and valleys, find rugged landscapes, hilltop monasteries and traditional villages with their white-washed homes.
Rhodes Town:The capital and most important of the Dodecanese Islands is divided into the Old Town, with its medieval fortifications from the 14th and 15th centuries (legacy of the Crusader Knights of St John) and, just outside, is the cosmopolitan, New Town.
The Old Town:With its high walls, cobbled streets and moat, it is the oldest and biggest medieval town of Europe. The European Heritage Commission and UNESCO have designated it as a World Heritage site to be preserved for future generations.
Mandraki Harbor:Two bronze deer now stand at the entrance of Mandraki Harbor filled with yachts, excursion boats, cruise ships and fishing boats where the famous Colossus of Rhodes once stood.
There is the wonderful atmosphere of the New Market built during the Italian occupation of the Dodecanese Islands filled with cafes, food stalls and, souvenir shops.
Gaze out to picture-postcard settings of arched public buildings that line the harbor, the 15th century fortress of Saint Nicholas, the three Byzantine windmills, the Palace of the Grand Master by the Knights of Saint John, and a Turkish minaret.
Lindos:Historic Lindos with its panoramic, ancient Acropolis, offers spectacular views of the town, bays and the Aegean coastline. Here, ancient Hellenistic and medieval Byzantine monuments and Crusader Knight fortifications can be found.
Saint Paul:It was in Lindos that Saint Paul first arrived to bring Christianity to the island in the 1st century AD. A small monastery bearing his name now stands by the bay of Saint Paul where he first landed.
Traditional Greek Kitchen
Bee-Hive Shaped Oven
The Greek Cuisine
Eating Out In Rhodes Island
Simple Preparations, Seasonal Ingredients At Their Peak Of Flavor And Freshness
Mezethakia (appetizers):They can be eaten at the start of a meal or combined as part of a main course and served with pita bread. They include tzatziki (yoghurt with garlic, cucumber and mint), skordalia (garlic dip), melitzanosalata (eggplant), taramasalata (cods roe blended with breadcrumbs, olive oil and lemon juice), and dolmades (stuffed vine leaves).
You can choose fried kalamari (squid) octopus or oysters and there is lamb, chicken or prawn souvlakia. Try tiropita triangles (flaky pastry filled with cheese), spanakopita (spinach pie) and fried haloumi or saganaki (slices of fried cheese).
Main Course Dishes:Include char-grilled and spit-roasted meats and seafood platters all served with vegetables and the traditional Greek salad.
Sweets And Desserts:There is an amazing variety to choose from such as baklava (layers of thin, filo pastry filled with chopped nuts and honey), kataifi (shredded rolls with chopped almonds and honey), galaktoboureko (semolina custard cake), loukoumathes (deep-fried honey puffs with cinnamon), pastes (creamy cakes), and pita bread with honey.
Traditional Greek Coffee:Served in small, thick cups accompanied with a glass of water and, can be made sweet, medium or unsweetened.
Simple Food That Is Healthy As It Is Good To Eat
The Traditional Village Kitchen:Relies on garden fresh fare that have been sown, nurtured and harvested to the peak of perfection and bursting with flavor direct from the fields and pastures. Wild herbs are gathered from its hills and valleys, wild game from the island's hunting grounds and seafood from the surrounding sea. This is old fashioned cooking that is healthy and tasty and, a pleasure to eat with family and friends.
The village woman makes the most of fresh, seasonal produce in many delicious ways in her simple, village kitchen or beehive shaped oven that is built outside.
Wild Mountain Herbs:Often used to make the simple village dish special. Oregano, basil, cinammon, garlic, mint, parsley, dill, alesfakia (sage), camomile, bay leaves and the traditional gliforni (popular herbal tea) are all used in many delicious ways.
The traditional village kitchen also relies on such staples as olive oil, fruit and vegetables, yoghurt, home-cured olives, thyme honey, goat meat and, the coarse village bread.
Goats Milk:Used for drinking and to make a variety of cheeses, yoghurt and butter according to local traditions.
Wild Game:Wild game has long been hunted with wild hare and many species of wild birds such as partridge, quail, snipe and turtledove on the menu for the traditional village table.
Most wild game is only available during the hunting season which usually begins in September and ends in March. Deer hunting was always and continues to be strictly prohibited.
The Bee-Hive Shaped Oven:A bee-hive shaped oven is built outside the house for cooking fresh seasonal produce in a range of delicious dishes that is a pleasure to eat with family and friends.
People who live and work in Rhodes Town and those who have migrated to America and Australia take with them the cooking habits as practiced in the villages by their mothers and grandmothers.
Traditional Home Cooking
Traditional Village Kafeneio
Self-Sufficient Way Of Life
The Forest Ranger
Traditional Village Life
When a tradition gathers enough strength to go on for centuries, you don't just turn it off one day.
The Simple Life
The simple life is all about rural communities and values with their spiritual element that provide a strong foundation throughout life, far away from the materialism, the loose standards and the evil.
Rural communities encourage families to keep their traditions and cultural rituals that have been passed down from generations past.
Village people radiate an inner contentment living in a more healthy and uncomplicated, tranquil environment in direct contact with natural things. Everyone knows each other and, you can leave your house and know that no vandal or thief will enter.
The traditional village home is a humble, and love-filled home that sets the moral and social climate that defines and binds the family and their community, creating a sense of belonging.
Rural Rhodes:Face of the past. It is the epitome of traditional values based on God, the family and tradition and where hard-working people live a self-sufficient life that is supportive of a healthy and balanced development.
Visual Delights Surrounded By The Quiet Of Nature:Their typical characteristics include clean, fresh air, crystal clear spring waters, rich vegetation, friendly rural folk and, a simpler, more natural lifestyle.
Blue skies, historic sites, rugged landscapes, shepherds and farmers paths, hilltop monasteries and mountain villages, (many dating back to medieval times).
There are quiet rural back-roads winding through hills and valleys, enjoy views of golden wheat-fields swaying to the wind, swim in an uncrowded beach or, enjoy a cup of Greek coffee at a traditional village kafeneio (cafe).
The Traditional Greek Kafeneio (Cafe):Life after work, for the men, revolves around the traditional kafeneio with its old, wooden furniture and folkloric decorations. Every village will have at least one or two kafeneia usually, close to the village square.
This is where the Greek male finds comfort, play cards or, with their worry-beads (komboloi). It is a place to drink coffee, play tavli (backgammon) or chess, drink ouzo, retsina or a glass of wine, where they can share their personal problems, chat about football and, discuss how they would put the world right.
Saint Nicholas Monastery
Farming For A Varied And Seasonal Table
These traditional villages were, and still are, farming communities growing various grain crops, olive groves, vineyards, fruit and, vegetables. The village people would be up at sunrise for the day's work ahead and normally worked until sunset.
Some of the old people continue to live off the land in a peaceful co-existence with nature and, in tune with their rural values.
The women worked alongside their husbands in the fields and tended to livestock but also, ensured their homes were well maintained.
From the fields you will find the best seasonal fruit and vegetables. Fresh eggs come from the chicken coop, thyme honey comes direct from the beehives and, the wonderful aroma of freshly baked bread is made the traditional way in an outside, beehive shaped oven.
Goat Herding:Before the big tourism boom, thousands of goats pastured on the the nearby hilly slopes. These flock supplied most of the milk, meat, wool, milk, butter, yoghurt and cheese made in the village and provided leather and fiber for clothing.
The Shepherd:A lifetime of hard work high up in the hills raising, caring and watching over their large herd of goats. Day in and day out they would be up at dawn to tend to their livestock and worked till the sun set.
They would be responsible for feeding and watering their herd then, moving their flock to a new and fresh supply. This process would be repeated throughout the year.
Cheese Making:Goat herds are an invaluable source of food in the forms of milk and meat while cheese and yoghurt made from goats milk was probably one of the earliest made dairy products.
Goat Cheese:Made by allowing raw milk which is cooked outdoors in a big cauldren, to naturally curdle, and then draining and pressing the curds. Each area has its own unique recipes and versatility. Village cheeses can be eaten in their natural state, they can be put on anything from salads and eggs or enjoyed fried, grated, or served as mezethakia (appetizers).
The Working Donkey:The hard-working donkey had the most to offer in assisting rural people because of their affordability and placid nature. They had an important role in transporting people and goods as well as assisting in activities associated with crop production. They were also, generally inexpensive, resistant to disease and, a wonderful companion.
The Donkey That Served Jesus:The lowly donkey, although universally ridiculed throughout the ages, had a special destiny in life. More than 2000 years ago, a donkey carried our Blessed Virgin Mary from Nazareth to Bethlehem just before Jesus was born, and then returned to Nazareth forty days after His Birth.
On the first Palm Sunday, Jesus made His Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem on a donkey. The King of Kings and, Light of our world demonstrated His humility by riding on a humble beast. It was the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy.
The Cross Of Christ
The Simple Life
Spring:The tourist season begins throughout Greece. Homes in the villages are freshly painted, the rural landscape is filled with colorful flowers, fruit trees are in bloom, birds build new nests and crops are harvested.
Protomayia (May 1):A national holiday. People traditionally gather wild flowers and make them into wreaths and then hang them on their front doors.
Easter:The biggest festival of the Greek Orthodox Calendar with its wonderful celebrations and church services and, goats turning on their spits.
It is preceded by a period for strengthening faith in our Lord, Jesus Christ through a 40 day fast and repentance in preparation for Easter.
Summer:The tourist season reaches its peak and there are several important Saint's Days during this time. Fields turn gold and, the scents of herbs and fragrant bushes waft in from the surrounding hills.
The Assumption Of The Blessed Virgin-August 15:The Feast is preceded by a two week fast by Orthodox Christians from red meat and meat products, poultry, dairy products (eggs and milk products), fish, oil and wine.
Autumn:The landscape is revitalized with rainfalls, olives are harvested and, the hunting season begins.
Winter:The tourist season has ended and people have more time to spend with family and friends.
November 15:Marks the 40 days leading up to Christmas. From this time Orthodox Christians fast as they prepare for communion and the celebration of the Birth of Jesus on December 25, Christmas Day.
Christmas Day, December 25:The loveliest festival of the year that makes everything more beautiful, is celebrated during this season with church services and as an important family feast day.
Winter is also a time when so many Saints Days are also celebrated.
New Year's Day:Celebrated with church services and then at home with a feast and highlighted by the cutting of the traditional Vasliopita cake in which a coin (often gold) is embedded during baking. The person who finds the coin in his or her slice is considered the luckiest member of the family for that year.
Village Home In Vati
Traditional Village Homes
Beautiful, picturesque, whitewashed, village homes with their wooden beams, open fireplaces, traditional embroideries and, mantles filled with religious icons, ceramic plates and family photos. Opposite the fireplace is usually a raised sleeping platform with storage cupboards underneath.
How wonderful it is to awaken in the morning to the sound of a distant rooster calling as the morning sun shines through the window slanting in golden rays across the walls and on the bed.
Beautiful Creations Through A Labor Of Love
The young village girl of yesteryear, learned to cook, sew, knit and to embroider her "prika" (dowry) beside her mother. From a young age she was being prepared to become a useful future wife ("nikokira").
Prika refers to a house and money given by parents to their daughter when she married. It also included all the various functional things that a young girl acquired to furnish and enhance the beauty of her future home after marriage.
She created embroidered and crocheted pieces, bed-covers, pillow cases, beautiful towels and wall coverings, a paploma (quilt) and, garments for all occasions.
These beautiful creations today serve to bring back memories of a bygone era in the villages of Rhodes Island.
Traditional Village Wedding:Preparations and celebrations leading up to the wedding day usually begin a week earlier with everybody helping and, participating in the traditional songs and dances.
On the day before the ceremony, village women go to the couple's future home to make up the marriage bed singing traditional wedding songs and throw rice, almonds and money.
On the wedding day musicians accompany the bridal party to the church while they play and sing wedding songs followed by a grand fiesta with all the village people attending as guests that lasts until the early hours of the morning.
In the morning, the musicians return to musically march the newly married couple to breakfast and to another fiesta which continues until the evening.
Breathtaking Outdoor Festivities
The Greek Orthodox Calendar:With its church services, its many beautiful religious celebrations and guiding system of values for how to live life ultimately brings every Orthodox Christian closer to God.
There are the breathtaking, outdoor festivals (paniyiria) to look forward to throughout the various villages of Rhodes Island.
People come to enjoy the festive atmosphere with family and friends, attend the church services then, enjoy delicious food, dancing and traditional music in beautiful, breathtaking mountain scenery.
People will also visit neighboring villages to enjoy the festivities on their particular Saint's Day.
Assumption Of The Virgin Mary-August 15th: This is the biggest festival of the year with music, dancing, mouth-watering food and fun that goes on till the early hours of the morning.
Andreas Papavasiliou:The charm of a blissful era, before the days of mass migration and the big tourism boom in Rhodes, Andreas Papavasiliou (Lyristis), a farmer and goat shepherd, from the little, hilltop village of Mesanagros, provided the passionate pulse and brought gaiety and life to many a wedding and church festival.
People of all ages would come from miles around to hear Andrea play his small, pear-shaped lyra held vertically upright and energetically bowed horizontally, while resting on his upper left thigh.
Accompanied by a laouto that is strummed like a guitar, he lifted the spirits of the people and brought them up to their feet as they danced in time to the wonderful music of the Greek islands.
Papa Matheos Stamatakis
5th Century AD Monastery In Mesanagros
Rhodes Rich Spiritual Heritage
Rhodes Island is uniquely blessed with many fine churches, monasteries and, wonderful religious festivals and celebrations throughout the year. Its people experience the full potential of the Kingdom of God through their Greek Orthodox faith and its customs.
The hills and valleys, its clean air and natural surroundings calm the senses. Here, on its quiet, winding roads and dirt tracks you will also find its spiritual trails with their picturesque little monasteries that enhance the beauty of the rugged landscape.
Many of these little monasteries have been built by people in the name of their selected Patron Saint and are usually cared for by them. Candles and oil are always available for anyone who passes by.
The Village Priest:The village priest finds his passion in serving God and sharing in the special mission of the Good Shepherd, Jesus Christ. The Good Shepherd guides his sheep to greener pastures. He watches over his flock and knows each by name. Like the Good Shepherd, the village priest provides the spiritual direction that will help to bring everyone of his flock closer to God.
The Chanter:Down through the centuries we find in the Holy Bible how God's people have praised Him in song, through prayers and, in the inspirational ministry of chanting the enduring liturgical Byzantine hymns to the Glory of God, our dear Lord, Jesus Christ, our Blessed Virgin Mary, the Saints and, the Prophets.
Mountain Scenery, Panoramic Views, Serene Little Monastery
In a picture postcard setting, the hilltop, Byzantine monastery of Skiathi offers peace of mind in the tranquility of Southern Rhodes. The panoramic landscape provides breathtaking views of numerous inlets and islets in the Aegean as well as the island of Karpathos on the horizon.
Located about six kilometers from Mesanagros, it is famous for its miraculous icon of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Panayia Skiatheni). September 7th and 8th is its festival with church services followed by a paniyiri (festival) of feasting and dancing.
In the 15th century a heretic stabbed the icon causing blood to flow from the Blessed Virgin Mary's right cheek. The wound and stains around it are still visible.
Icon Of The Blessed Virgin Mary:Many a poor heart has come seeking solace and spiritual guidance. In quiet humility, they light their candles and pray to the Blessed Virgin Mary. The icon is hung with the many pendants placed there by people in gratitude, silently bearing witness to its many miracles.
Kosmas And Erini Kakou:It was in the idyllic surroundings of the beautiful and tranquil little monastery of Skiathi that Kosmas and Erini Kakou lived a way of life that was spiritually enriched through good works and good deeds.
For Kosmas and Erini Kakou, from the little Southern Rhodes village of Mesanagros, belief and faith were not just words. They lived it and shared it with their fellow human being and devoted their lives to serving God through a rich variety of works.
The little monastery of Skiathi was, for eight years, their humble home. Their lives were guided by simplicity, self-sufficiency and worship for God, for our dear Lord, Jesus Christ, our Blessed Virgin Mary, the Saints and the Prophets. They worked its fields and gardens, provided food, drink and accommodation for guests and weary travelers and, shared with them the abundant love of God.
A Labor Of Love And Devotion To God And To Greek Orthodox Faith
Shaped and fashioned by creative hands, the iconographer sets out on a spiritual journey of fulfillment.
Many hours of design and painting are necessary to portray the power of the great liturgical mysteries that help us to grow even closer to the beauty that can only be found in God and His Heavenly Kingdom.
A Place Where Time Seems To Stand Still
Remote part of the island with its old-fashioned charm, unspoiled natural surroundings and family farming. The people's whole year is tied to the changing seasons and the Greek Orthodox Calendar.
The Charm Of A Bygone Era
Hidden in hilly terrain and rich in flora and fauna, the little village of Mesanagros is located about 79.6km southwest from the capital of Rhodes Island and is perched at an altitude of about 400meters. It is a heavenly little village with its narrow little streets and friendly people where you can escape to a more quiet and gentle pace of life.
You gaze down at the village with its charming little white houses, its two historic churches and its many wonderful little monasteries. Surrounding the village are its wheat-fields, fig trees, olive groves, watermelon and honeydew melon patches.
Panayia Tis Theotokou:The small village square features the historic Panayia tis Theotokou church which was originally built in the 5th century AD. It collapsed but, was rebuilt in the 13th century. Its festival, “Koimisis of Theotokos” (the Assumption of the Virgin Mary) takes place on 15 August. After the church service people can enjoy cultural events, as well as traditional village food.
Archangels Michael and Gabriel (Taxiarhis):Mesanagros also has the beautiful, tiered church of Archangels Michael and Gabriel or, Taxiarhis as it is commonly known which was built in 1861.
The village also has fifteen monasteries dotted throughout the surrounding hilly countryside making it an ideal place for walks from one to the other in quiet rural settings.
Rural roads from Mesanagros will lead you to neighboring villages such as Lahania, Kattavia, Gennadi, Arnitha and Appolakia.
Papa Matheos Stamatakis:Its Sunday morning and the church bells of Taxiarhis ring in every direction across the hills and valleys of Mesanagros. The priest of Mesanagros, Papa Matheos Stamatakis stands in front of the altar wearing his sacramental vestments and begins the Divine Liturgy while his psalti, Mihalis Pizimolas assists by chanting the responses of the beautiful Byzantine hymns.
As he prays in his serene, peaceful voice, he calls upon his flock to live in love and hope. At the end of the service, he gives his blessing as every member of his small congregation silently file through to kiss his hand as he distributes the antitheron bread to everybody as a sign of brotherly love.
God abides here and we are standing in His Presence on Holy Ground.