We decided to rent a car for a few days, venture out onto the somewhat chaotic Greek roads and do some exploring. Our travel company does have excursions to many of the places we plan to visit, however, they cost considerably more (up to Â£40pp) than organising things yourself.l with your own car, you have the freedom to drive out to a hidden beach for a swim, a mountain village for lunch, or visit a historic sight. Sometimes it’s just nice to head out for the day, without an agenda, see what you can find.
So yesterday we visited the historic old town of Rhodes, it’s port, and the location of one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. The Old Town of Rhodes is the oldest inhabited medieval town in Europe. It’s a thrill to behold, and the castellated walls that surround and defend the town, are simply massive.
We started or tour at Mandraki harbour, the legendary home of the Colossus of Rhodes, and walked the harbour walls and quayside. It was packed to the gunnels with ships and boats of all types, ages, and sizes. In fact, The Costa Americana, the sister ship of the ill fated Costa Concordia, was in port, and I can honestly say I have never seen a ship that big, it was colossal.
We entered the town through Eleftheria Gate, and come to Plateia Simi, containing ruins of the Temple of Venus, which dates from the 3rd century B.C. I had a clear idea of where I would like to visit whilst in the town, but very quickly became lost, and that’s not a bad thing, as it gave us the chance to see parts of the town you normally wouldn’t see.
We quickly came across the Street of the Knights, one of the best preserved and most magnificent medieval relics in the world. The long cobbled street housed the Knights who belonged to the Order of St. John. It was constructed over an ancient pathway that led in a straight line from the Acropolis of Rhodes to Mandraki port.
The old town has a bewildering choice of resturants and bars to pick from, and as the midday sun was upon us, we stopped for an ice cream and coffee, in a little shaded cafe, and watched the world pass by for half an hour.
The warren of tiny lanes and passages are filled with ancient historical sights at every turn. The houses crowd over the cobbled streets, often draped in vines. Stone arches reach out from one building to another, giving an almost cave-like feel to the town, and the welcome shade they afford, was enjoyed by most.
After hours of walking and sightseeing we decided to find a traditional restaurant to enjoy our evening meal, and found the beautiful restaurant Ippotikon, set in a 5th century Knights Templar’s house. We sat on the rooftop and overlooked the olive tree lined town square. Its a family run restaurant, and they couldn’t do enough to ensure we were fully satisfied. The food was typical Greek, well presented, and very tasty. Rhodes old town can be very expensive for food, but this was value for money and better quality than most.
Although the old town is quite commercialised, and understandably so, from the daily influx of cruise ship passengers, it does retain its charm, mystique, and historic feel. Meandering through the passages, you can still see the local people going on with their daily lives, and if you’re lucky, see into their homes and gardens. It’s well worth a visit, probably two or three, as there really is far to much to see all in one day.