Aghios Isidoros. Old coffee shops and taverns, grocery stores with counters and antique scales, good wine: this mountain village seems to have never moved on from the 60's. To the north, in the woods, you will find the so-called Monk’s hole. It is a small cave, scooped on the rock by a monk and transformed into a hermitage. Its only “furniture” is a bed hewn on the rock. Halfway between Aghios Isidoros and Embonas stands the Artamitis monastery, which was founded in the 9th-10th century.
Apolakkia. Always a farming village, Apolakkia keeps the tradition to present day. The main produce of the village is watermelon and every year on the first Saturday after the day dedicated to Aghia Marina (the 17th of July), the Watermelon Festival is organized. The settlement preserves its islander color. The Italian building hosting the Cultural Centre stands out at the main square.
Apollona. Small village, on the east slope of Profitis Ilias, with a nice view and several taverns. In Apollona, there is a small folklore museum and In its flowering garden you will see the remains of a Byzantine castle, a Paleochristian church, roman sarcophagi, chapiters and drums from ancient Greek pillars. The latter are thought to belong to a temple of Apollo, from which the village took its name. Once, pig-raising flourished in Apollona and animals used to graze free on the mount of Profitis Ilias. However, when the two luxury hotels Elafos and Elafina were built there, the Italians forbade pig-raising.
Arnitha. A picturesque village, built on the side of a hill. At the entrance of Arnitha, there is a wide space with a huge plane tree, a spring and a tavern. Five km north to Arnitha, in Aghia Irini, you will find the remains of two Paleochristian churches. The bigger one, built around the second half of the 6th century, is thought to have been devoted to Saint Irene. The baptistery of Saint Irene, a square marble font decorated with embossed crosses, was brought to Rhodes by the Italians. It is the fountain at Argyrokastro square.
Archangelos. Archangelos valley, called Aithonas, is one of the most fertile in Rhodes and the village of 5,500 inhabitants is the second biggest of the island, after Ialysos (Trianta). The highest building in Archangelos is the belfry of the church of Taxiarchon, built in the 19th century. The church of Saint John the Baptist has remarkable icons dated from the 14th century. The folklore museum exhibits ceramics, woven embroideries and other traditional cottage industry creations. The castle of Archangelos dominates the hill over the settlement. It was built in the 15th century by Grand Masters Jacques de Milly and Pere Ramon Zacosta and bears the coat of arms of Grand Master Giovanni Battista Orsini on its gate. Archangel Michael’s small monastery is located inside the castle. The village of Archangelos holds a great tradition in pottery. Subsequent ceramists of Archangelos were specialized in clay vases, called “adjia”. However, this craft is in decay today and only two pottery workshops are left. Archangelos musicians are considered to be the best on the island. You can confirm this yourselves, if you join one of the festivals organized in Archangelos to honour Archangel Michael on the 8th of November, Saint Marina on the 17th of July, Panagia Alemonitra (Virgin the Beneficent) on the 23rd of August.
Asklipío (or Asklipió). It is said that the village was named after an asklipio (hospital) located there in ancient times; however, no trace of it was ever found. For the time being, Asklipio’s “trademark” is the small castle of Ioannis, located on top of the hill over the village. It was more of a military base than a defensive fortification. It was built by the Byzantines and renovated by Grand Master Pierre d’ Aubusson in the years between 1474 and 1479. At the centre of Asklipio lies a Byzantine church that is probably the oldest one on the island, Koimisi tis Theotokou (the Assumption of Virgin Mary), built in 1060 over the remains of an older temple.
Afandou. Though crowded with bars, restaurants, cafés etc., this village, which is the largest in the area, is not very touristic. It has narrow alleys with small, traditional houses, along with newly built constructions. Women in Afandou were famous for the ornate tapestries they weaved. Even though this art is in downturn, the village remains the island’s tapestry weaving hub, with many workshops and marts. Over Afandou beach, there is a 18-hole golf course.
Embonas. A mountainous village built on the slope of Atavyros, the highest mountain of Rhodes (1,215 m). Embonas is famous for its wines, costumes and female dancers. A trail leading to the top of Atavyros starts from Embonas. There, you can see the sanctuary of Atabyrius Zeus, built by Althemenis of Crete, according to mythology. Dances are a big part of the village’s traditions, and its square is called “pista” (dance floor), as all dancing events take place there. If you want to admire their performance, the best time to do so is on the 15th of August, when the church of Koimisi tis Theotokou has its patronal festival, as well as during the wine festival organized in the end of August. At the square, there is also the folklore museum. At the village’s entrance, you come upon Emery winery. There are also two smaller family wineries, Merkouri’s and Kounaki’s, open daily as well. Two kilometers off Embonas, along the road to Riana, there is the natural cypress forest, a listed natural monument. It occupies an area of 135 hectares and is covered with age-long Mediterranean cypresses and a few pines. It is included in the “Natura 2000” network.
Faliraki. A true paradise for those who love fun, especially young people, listening to loud music and consuming alcohol! The main street abounds with bars, restaurants and anything else that has to do with entertainment, such as bunjee jumping and go-cart tracks. There are also itinerant painters, hairdressers, even goalkeepers you can shoot penalties at! On the beach, all kinds of water sports are available and there are plenty of beach bars.
Gennadi. Perhaps the most touristic village of southern Rhodes. Nevertheless, it retains a part of its traditional architecture. There is a variety of taverns, coffee houses, souvenir shops, and lots of rooms to let. Every year, in September, the Tourism Festival -a kind of “Farewell to summer” event- is being organized in Gennadi.
Ialysos (Trianta). Luxury hotels dominate the landscape here; nevertheless, many neoclassical weekend houses with big gardens have survived. Visitors will find some of the most famous restaurants of Rhodes and countless night clubs here. At the square, local women have created a “traditional house” where furniture, appliances and utensils of the previous century are at display. There is also the private Stamatiadis Mineralogy and Paleontology Museum. In August, the “Ialysia” festival is held, with dances, musical instruments and a local produce market. On top of Filerimou hill, over Trianta, rise two important monuments: the citadel of ancient Ialysos and the medieval monastery of Kyra Filerimou. Filerimou hill is characterized by a peculiar peak: in fact, it is a spacious flat connecting with a smaller flat on the other side through a plane back. This point overlooks the whole island and the sea. So, it was here that the inhabitants of ancient Ialysos built their citadel, and it remained fortified until World War II! Next to the archaeological site of Ialysos citadel, there is the monastery of Kyra Filerimou. It is believed to have been built by a wealthy knight who lived there like a hermit, thus the name Filerimos (a person who prefers solitude). It was turned into a stable by the Ottomans and restored into its contemporary form by the Italians. The monastery was inaugurated in 1931 and monks of the Franciscan Order settled there. Using a secret recipe, monks produced a liqueur called Sette Herbe (Seven Herbs), that was appropriate for stomach disorders. Sette Ηerbe is still available and you can buy it at the bench set in front of the monastery. It has a deep green colour and is produced by a local distillery, as monks left the monastery in 1946. Although its recipe remains secret, four of the elements have leaked out: sage, oregano, thyme and wormwood.
Ixia (Ixos). A modern tourist resort on the northwestern coast of Rhodes. The settlement has always been a holiday retreat and several holiday mansions of Rhodians and Italians, built in the early 20th century, are still preserved.
Kamiros Skala. It is a small harbor with fish taverns. This is where Althemenis of Crete disembarked and founded ancient Kritinia. However, the adjacent village (former Kastellos, contemporary Kritinia) took advantage of the name and the fame surrounding the village. Ferries to Chalki (1-hour trip) leave from here every morning.
Kattavía (Kattaviá). The village is located at the southernmost part of Rhodes, in a fertile valley providing produce to the whole island. It is beautiful and quiet, with small, colourful houses. At the village’s square there are taverns and small coffee houses under the shade of the trees. The church of Aghia Paraskevi (1850), with its impressive belfry, is worth a visit.
Kolympia. During mid-war, the Italians had founded an experimental farming village here, and they cultivated vineyards, olives, citrus fruits and apricot trees. Back then, the village was called San Benedetto. Today, it has turned into a bustling holiday settlement, ideal for those who love fun, the sea and water sports.
Koskinou. The tufa-made external doors of Rhodian houses are called “pyliones”. Koskinou is famous for its pyliones. Some have that natural beige colour of tufa, others are whitewashed or painted in vibrant colours: green, red, blue or purple. Koskinou was declared a preserved settlement. It is worth paying a visit to the folklore museum.
Kremasti. A big village that is lively all-year round. The name Kremasti (hung) is maybe due to the fact that the village “hangs” from a rocky hill. It could also be due to a paraphrase of Gran Maestri. The castle of Kremasti, the remains of which are seen on the hill, used to be a popular holiday resort for Grand Masters. The library, the village’s most admirable building, is located at the square.
Kritinia. In the past, the village was called Kastellos (big castle), due to a fortress built by the Knights on a high rock. In 1948 it was renamed Kritinia, “stealing” a name that belonged to adjacent village Skala Kamirou. The castle of Kritinia or Kastellos, dominates on a rock overlooking the sea. The first written reference to the castle, known as Castel Nuovo, dates back to 1480. On the castle’s interior, you will see the remnants of the residences that accommodated the guard, as well as the remains of Saint Paul Catholic church. It is worth stopping by the square of Kritinia, at the small coffee house under the shade of the age-long plane. The square is decorated with a marble drinking fountain, made by the Italians in 1914. A bit further down, there is the chapel of Aghios Ioannis (Saint John), featuring murals that date back to the 16th century.
Láerma (Laérma). This is a farming settlement located at the centre of the island. Four kilometers off the village, there is the monastery of Tharri (or monastery of Archangel Michael Tharrinos). The main church of the monastery is famous for its 13th century hagiographies (on the sanctum and the cupola), as well as for its ornate carven chancel that dates back to 1756. The monks run a shop, where they sell wine and ouzo. However, the most unexpected fact of all is that they have their own local TV channel!
Lardos. Ancient Lardos was famous for its lithos lartios, a grey-blue marble used by ancient Rhodians to make their statues. Though largely touristic, contemporary Lardos has maintained its traditional character. Half a kilometre off the village, there are the remains of a Byzantine castle given as a reward by the Knights to Genovese fortune-hunter Vignolo de Vignoli. Four kilometres east of the village, there is the monastery of Ypseni. Its main church, with its impressive arches, dates back to 1755. There is a go-cart track on Lardos beach.
Monolithos. A small village, amphitheatrically built at the foot of mount Akramytis. It offers a magnificent view over the sea, traditional houses with “patelia” (a traditional insulating material) on the roofs, taverns, a hotel Yet, you have to cross the settlement limits if you want to visit the most important attraction: it is the castle of Monolithos, perhaps the most impressive castle of Rhodes. It is located on a 236-metres high rock, facing the sea and Chalki. It was built by Grand Master d’ Aubusson in 1476, over the ruins of an older Byzantine fortification. Inside the castle, there are two small churches. Some claim that Monolithos was not named after the rock on which the castle is built, but after a black monolith with metaphysical properties, brought by the Knights from the Holy Places. They even claim that this monolith is still there, buried. And if anyone ever dares to unbury it, the entire island will sink!
Psinthos. This village features one of the biggest squares in the whole Dodecanese! During the Italian occupation, all the musters for the 12,000 soldiers who camped at this location were held here – that is why it is so big. Around the square, there are numerous grill houses and coffee houses. The village abounds with waters. The biggest source is called Fasouli, it has a particularly palatable water and is located under the central square. In front of the source, a beautiful, small pond has been formed, accommodating the rare endemic fish of Rhodes called ghizani.
Salakos. The biggest village in the area, located at the foot of mount Profitis Ilias. There is a folklore museum near the square. Over the village, there are the remains of a medieval castle that was destroyed in 1480. As the locals say, there were lots of water sources on the outskirts of Salakos in the past. Now, only three are left: Nymphi, Vrysi and Pigadia. Pigadia provides the best quality water that flows off the beautiful Italian fountain at the village’s square. Nymphi is the most famous source. Ancient Greeks believed that nymphs were the protectors of water (sources, rivers and lakes). Once, the source’s water was endless. Its stream formed little ponds called “kouloumpes” by the locals, who would swim in them. A small, silver endemic fish, called ghizani, lived in “kouloumpes”. The source’s water is soft and very palatable. Panaxia quadripunctaria butterflies live around the source in the valley, while Paeonia rhodia, an endemic variety encountered only here, grows in the area. If you keep walking on the dirt road after Nymhpi source, you will soon come upon the cave of Makarouna.