RHODES - the Sunshine Isle


The Dodecanese Islands


Time and tide have failed to extinguish Rhode's and her island's immortal beauty and character


The numerous Dodecanese islands (in Greek: Δωδεκάνησα, Dodekánisa, [ðoðeˈkanisa], English:  /doʊdɪkəˈniːz/, literally 'twelve islands) are a group of 14 larger plus circa 150 smaller islands (all under Greek ownership and some just lumps of rock with a goat on it) set in the Aegean Sea, of which 26 are actually inhabited. However, many guidebooks often refer to only 12 islands - an unfortunate mistake bearing in mind that Halki and Lipsi, although small, are two of the most charming Greek islands of all.

These prime 14 - and all the myriad of other islands - are placed off the south-west coast of Turkey, southward of the island of Samos and north-eastward to the island of Crete,  belong to the Southern Sporades island group. They possess a supremely rich history, with many of the tiniest islands boasting dozens of Byzantine churches and an astonishing array of superb medieval castles. Along with Rhodes famed walled citadel, this represents the world's largest concentration of mediaeval fortifications on the planet.If you want mediaeval then go to the Dodecanese and eat your heart out.

Importantly, the most monumentally enhanced and historically important island is Rhodes (Rodos), which for many thousands of years has been the controller of the surrounding islands.

Of the other notable islands, Kos and Patmos are historically more important than most; the remaining nine are Astipalea, charming Halki, Kalimnos, Karpathos, Kasos, Leros, cute Lipsi, Nisyros, serene Symi, lovely Tilos and unusual Kastelorizo (a beachless island more remote and closer to Turkey than any other and which  lies in the eastern Mediterranean and is famous for amazing snorkelling).

Other islands in the chain include Agathonisi, Alimia, Arkoi, Chalki, Farmakonisi, Gyali, Kinaros, Levitha, Nimos, Pserimos, Saria, Syrna and Telendos.  It is the 14 larger islands that represent the most populated and possibly the most interesting of all - although the smaller accessible ones are always worth a visit if you are an intrepid explorer.  Bear in mind though that transport links to many smaller islands can be limited, patchy or virtually non-existent and perhaps dependent on larger fishing boats to bring in supplies.

Some seasoned travellers might suggest that the Dodecanese were actually the most beautiful and interesting of all the other Greek island groups.  This is not an unjustifiable belief since the Dodecanese are a richly endowed group. Indeed, they are certainly placed in the most strategically important point of the Greek territory, with the acquisitive east to the right, Africa not far below and Turkey lounging nearby and often desiring what are a stunning collection of rocks, bijou and much larger islands.

Rhodes is of course the crowning glory of what was once one of the most significant and powerful places in the Mediterranean.  The place drips with ancient and other period historical substance.  As with the Cyclades, you would be hard pressed to become bored whilst surrounded by so many sites, sights and places to see and to visit.


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