Rhodes, the West Coast

Prasonísi is a small peninsula in the south of Rhodes, its southern extremity. It is separated from the island with the thin sandy isthmus. Here, the waters of the Mediterranean and Aegean seas come up close to each other. It is a popular place for windsurfers and kitesurfers (the former ride on a board under sail, the latter - under kite, sometimes they are raised briefly in the air).

There is no real road on the isthmus, although one can ride across all the area, covered with dense sand. However, one should be careful and keep the rut, if possible. When we were here, one car stuck in the sand. There is a dirt road in the peninsula itself that leads to the lighthouse, but we did not go there.

Click the images to enlarge them.

A little north, the main road makes a giant U-turn to the opposite shore. The road to Prasonisi departs from the main one at Kattaviá village, the most southern village of the island. The abandoned Roman Catholic Monastery of Saint Mark, located just east of the village, reminds of the past presence of the Italians in Rhodes.

The terrain here in the south of the island is deserted and empty. Earth is covered with moss and low shrubs, there are few trees and no buildings and other objects of human activity. Only further at the north, something like a forest begins to appear; there are several monasteries in this place, for example Skiádi.

Near the village Apalakkiá there are dam and reservoir. While we passed through these places along the river, we saw a couple of hunters with guns. On the lakeside there is organized something like a park, next to it - the Church of the Life-giving Spring. In the nearby woods, there hide a small Church of Saint George Várdas built in 1290, it has ancient frescoes on the walls.

The ridge of three mountains stretching along the west coast begins further to the north. At the foot of the southernmost of them, Artamítis, the village Monolithos lies. Not far from it on a high cliff by the sea, there is the Monólithos Fortress built by knights in the XV century. A wonderful view of the sea and surroundings opens from here. In the fortress there is a small Church of Saint Panteleimon.

All-round panorama from the Monolithos Fortress

The road from the fortress to the sea leads to the sandy-gravel Fourní beach.

Lifting back, we go further to the north. Along the way, there is Siána village - the place of an obligatory stop of passing tourists. There are many souvenir shops; in the center of the village there is a picturesque Church of Saint Panteleimon of the XIX century with murals on the walls.

Next, the middle mountain of the ridges is Atáviros, it is the highest on the island and reaches 1,215 metres. On the top there should be a place with the remnants of the ancient temple of Zeus. We were not there, and whether there is a normal road up there or not I do not know.

The village Émbonas lies at the foot of the mountain, here I bought on approbation a bottle of the local grape spirit with name soúma (we remind other names of this drink: rakí, tsípouro, tsikoudiá).

Closer to the sea, near the village Kritinía, there is another fortress with wonderful views, built in the XVI century, Kritinia or Kastélos. The surrounding islands: Hálki, Alimiá and others, are visible in the sea. The village has a folklore museum.

All-round panorama from the Kritinia Fortress

Then the road goes north to Skála Kámirou village. Here is a small harbour, with ships that go to Halki Island. Let me remind you that a visit to the island was part of my plans.

Arriving in the port for exploration around 6 pm, I saw a notice that tells the ship runs in Halki daily, leaves at 10 am, returns in the evening. The notice hung on the trailer in the port, the door of the trailer was closed. At this time, a ship stood on the quay and was loaded. I asked someone on board, how can I get Halki? The meaning of the answer was that I need to go right now, there were no other ways. Of course, I was not going to go for a night.

In one of the following days, hoping, I arrived there again at 9.30 am. The harbour was empty, only a couple of tourists sitting and waiting for nothing like me.

There was an opportunity to go to the ill-fated island from Rhodes city with one of pleasure ships that moored in the Commercial harbour. Only one of them went to Halki Island, two days a week, Sundays and Mondays. But, unfortunately, we saw the sights of the city close to the end of our stay on the island and Sunday and Monday were not included in the number of remaining days.

We move further from the Skala Kamirou to the north-east, the road reaches the sea. Once we came down by the car to the shore, bathed and washed the car.

Not far from the road on the hillside are located the ruins of Ancient Kámiros - one of the three ancient cities of Rhodes, the smallest of them. The admission fee is 4 euros.

The foundation time of the city is lost in the mists of time, the present ruins date from the restructuring of the city after an earthquake in 226 BC. Many of the monuments of the earlier eras were found at the excavations of nearby graves. The most famous of them is a tombstone with a bas-relief of two women, presumably mother and daughter "Krito and Timarista" that currently is located in the archaeological museum of Rhodes.

Kamiros divided into 3 parts: below there are the market square, square with a fountain, a bath-house, a temple of Apollo and a temple of gods and heroes; the main street with houses on both its sides extended bottom-up along the slope; on the top, in Acropolis, there are a 200-metre stoa, a water cistern and a temple of Athena. A panoramic view of the city and the opens from the top; and on the other side there is a view of surroundings with a grove of trees burned during a recent fire.

After Kamiros we take the road that goes inland and climb the mountain Profítis Ilías (Prophet Elijah), the last and less high of the ridge. But, unlike the others, it is covered with forest. Here, perhaps, the densest forest on the island.

At the top among the firs and pines, there are two hotel "Elafos" and "Elafina" (deer and doe) made in the style of Alpine chalets; they were built in 1929-1932 and recently were renewed. Nearby there is a farm with pens for deer and exotic llamas.

After climbing up the stone stairs to the cliff, we get to a two-story house unnoticeable from below. This is so-called villa of Mussolini, in fact Mussolini has never been here, and the house belonged to the Italian Governor of Rhodes in the 30-ies, General De Vecchi. Now here the devastation and desolation reign. Glasses are smashed, plaster falling off, boards are rotting. Although, for 60 years (if we count from 1948), the destruction is not as serious as one might expect. At least one can walk inside the house without fear, even on the wooden balcony. By the way, the view from the balcony of the forest and the sea in the distance is great.

Not far from the house there is a church, also Italian, and also abandoned. The floor inside the church is full of balls of sheep or goat dung, so the walk there is not too pleasant pastime.

We follow the road inland further. Descending from the mountain, we stop at the small Church of Saint Nicholas Foundouklí of XV century with frescoes on the walls.

Having gone a little further, we get in Eleoúsa village that rich of architecture objects of Mussolini period. The big round fountain with a bowl in the middle (the fountain like this is near the entrance to the Thermes Kalithea) is not working and neglected, fishes swimming in the water. Near the fountain a spring flows from the column. After passing an alley, we find along the road an abandoned sanatorium. Along with the Monastery of Saint Mark and Villa De Vecchi, it replenish the list the ruins of the modern era we visited. Next to the sanatorium is a large church. Evidently that she was built by the Italians too, but unlike other buildings, this church is in excellent condition and is used according to its intended purpose.

We return to the sea and continue our journey along the coast to the north-east. On the way there are found the settlements Fánes, Soroní. We did not stop there; it was written that the sandy beach of Fanes is a perfect place for windsurfing and kitesurfing.

We turn inland again, this time towards Petaloúdes - the Valley of Butterflies. This is one of the main natural attractions of the island. The entrance fee is 5 euros.

The shady path that enclosed with wooden handrails lay along the small river. The river flows downhill, forming waterfalls and dams here and there, the path in steep places turns into a stairway. Visitors can pass the path both bottom-up and top-down, depending on where a car or bus was parked. We went from the bottom up. In any case, everybody has to return.

The visitors should keep track, listen to the guards. It is forbidden to smoke, pollute the environment in some other way, talk loudly, whistle, clap and generally create noise. The penalty is 50 euros.

What all this for? The fact is that in the mating season from June to September, a great number of Jersey Tiger butterflies flock together here from neighbourhood. They swarm around tree trunks, leaves and stones. Sometimes they all together soar up upwards, making noise, flicker and indelible impression on visitors. Unfortunately, it is impossible to take a normal photo or video when they flying. We were there in the second half of September, so the butterflies were not too many (but not few), and they were concentrated at one point, somewhere in the middle of the road. It is the smell of resin of trees growing by the rivers' banks and called Liquidambar Orientals that attracts the butterflies to this place. This resin - storax is the raw material for the perfume industry, as well as for the local production of incense.

Ascending up, we come to the road, behind which there is a small Monastery of Panagía Kalópetra with the Church of Mother of God. Here in the shade of the trees there are tables with benches - a perfect place to relax. One can walk back to the park if shows the ticket purchased below.

Near the Valley of Butterflies, closer to the western shore, there is a turn to the Ostrich Farm. Though this place resembles a small zoo with the entrance fee 4 euro (I think it's overpriced). Besides ostriches, whom are the majority, there exist goats, sheep, camels, donkeys, wild boars, and deer. In a separate location concentrated birds: ducks, geese, pigeons, peacocks, pheasants. As it is written on their website, in the local cafe one can taste ostrich meat and ostrich eggs, but we have not looked there.

Near the road that connects the western and eastern coasts, not far from Pastída village, there is a beekeeping company "Melissokomiki Dodekanisou" with shop and museum. At the shop one can buy honey, sweets and drinks with the presence of honey and other bee products. At the museum (2 euros) there are stands with pictures and annotations, equipment, hives. One of the hives with glass walls is inhabited by living bees. There is also a beekeeper's suit, which one can try it on oneself.

Let's return to the shore. Here, along the road until the city, there is a continuous residential area, which is a row of villages: Paradísi, Kremastí, Ialyssós (Triánda), Ixiá. These places are at the same time also the beach resorts, the last two are particularly known. In Paradisi there is the airport.

In Ialyssos we turn from the main road and reach the Filérimos hill with a serpentine road. Leaving the car in the parking lot and passing slightly forward, we come to a footpath.

To the right is a long eucalyptus alley "Way to Golgotha" built by the Italians. From both sides of it there installed slabs with bas-reliefs and inscriptions in Latin. The alley ends with the giant cross on the edge of the hill in front of the precipice; there is a panoramic view of surroundings from here. One can climb up the narrow metal spiral staircase inside the cross. Before the "entrance" to the cross, the announcement warns that you can rise only at your own risk. I tried to take it, but one of the first steps treacherously sagged under my weight and this attempt ended.

To the left of the parking lot, a complex of structures of different historical eras is located. The admission fee is 4 euros. The most noticeable part is a Roman Catholic Monastery of XV century with the church; it was restored under Mussolini. In ancient times at this territory there was located Ialyssos, one of the three cities of ancient Rhodes. Before the medieval church there are remains of the temple of Athena Pallas of III-II centuries BC. A flock of peacocks walks freely on the ruins. A little further on the east there are the ruins of a Byzantine fortress.

So, we made a circle around the island and go further. In the evening of 23 September, we got on board of the ferry "Proteus" (ANES company), which arrived one hour later of appointed time. The city lit up with the evening lights, and we have headed for Symi, following with a farewell glance this beautiful Rhodes island.


Attribution-No Derivative Works (CC-BY-ND) by Andrey K.