When somebody visits Rhodes for the first time, aware of the myth that sets her as the home of Helios, the sun god, they can’ t help but start with a good – or at least a favourable – disposition towards the island. And, in due course, when it is time to leave again, and by now in love with the place, no one can claim – or at least no one so far has – that this love affair has to do with anything other than the result of yet another mythical liaison which claims that Rhodes is none other than the child of Aphrodite, the goddess of love.
Simply put, the visitor’ s love for the island is the result of a relationship that was just bound to end like this, because Rhodes, the whole island, seduces in a series of inevitable ways, causing even the most dispassionate visitor at last, to fall.
There are so many of these inevitable ways, that it is hard to list them, so they appear as they are, a true reflection of the island’s beauty and not so much whimsical over-elaboration:
The indented coastline, lined here with golden sands and dunes, there with multi-coloured stones and crystal-clear blue seas.
The lush landscape and ever-present flowers, recalling and insisting to some that other myth, that Rhodes was so-named from its being “The Rose Isle”.
The extraordinary Valley of the Butterflies, the area known as Seven Springs and the beautiful forests of the Rhodian deer, another of the island’s symbols.
The Medieval Town, a living museum, with fortress and castle, the Museum and all the other monuments close to each other and so rare to find in one location, the picturesque narrow lanes and market streets. There are Lindos, Kamiros and Ialysos too, those original, ancient cities, which stand today, in ruins though they might be, to remind us of over 2,500 years of the island’s history.
The island’s omnipresent Byzantine churches with their outstanding frescoes, confirmation that the Greeks aspired to keep their essential “Greekness” and religion, despite the many invaders who have always failed to enslave them.
The exquisite courtyards of the traditional houses of the “Marasia” and the cobbled lanes of villages that modern architectural trends , or civilization if you will, have not succeeded in spoiling. The modern and luxurious hotels and other accommodation showing that Rhodes still leads in the tourist industry.
The playful sun, insisting on appearing almost every day of the year, like a caring father wanting to be near his only daughter.
The hospitality of the inhabitants, the manners and customs religiously guarded by village folk, and the hundreds of ways the people have of enjoying themselves, whether at the traditional festivals, where everyone performs the traditional Greek dances – the sousta, the sirtos, the kalamatianos – accompanied by the violin and lute, or at the top-quality cultural events that take place on Rhodes almost daily, or in the many night-clubs.
Rhodes really is magical, as you too, dear guest, will agree as soon as you get to know the island. And you will also then do us the great favour of removing the word “exaggeration” from your mind if it has possibly entered your thoughts on reading this introduction!
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