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DODECANESE

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Another group of islands that serves as a bridge between Europe and Turkey is the Dodecanese, and it consists of 14 islands. Because of their strategic and vulnerable position, these islands have been subjected to an even greater catalogue of invasions and occupations than the rest of Greece; Egyptians, the Knights of the order of St. John, Turks and Italians have all done their bit as conquerors. Rhodes is the largest of the Dodecanese islands and its town is the largest inhabited medieval settlement in Europe. Other popular islands in the Dodecanese include Kos, Symi and Patmos. The islands of Lipsi and Tilos, though not considered as popular tourist destinations, have fantastic beaches without large crowds, and the far-flung Agathonisi, Kastellorizo and Kassos are great places to experience traditional island life. Several islands of the Dodecanese, especially Rhodes, were settled by the ancient Greeks and figured prominently in Hellenic civilization for many centuries. Agriculture is the chief occupation in most of the islands with the leading crops being tobacco, olives, grapes, oranges, and other fruits and vegetables. Sponge fishing is locally important. Tourism is of major economic significance to the islands, as they all feature sunny skies, beautiful beaches and perfect tourist infrastructure.

 

Rhodes

Rhodes is one of the most heavily visited Greek islands and considered to be the "rose" of the Aegean. Apart from sun and crystal-clear seas, there"s a great deal more to attract people here. The island offers visitors the chance to explore three major periods from its long and eventful past; the Ancient, the Medieval and the Modern. Monte Smith is on top of the list, overlooking the city of Rhodes, crowned by the captivating Temple of Apollo and featuring an impressive ancient, open-air stadium, which is still in use today. Archaeological discoveries indicate that Rhodes figured prominently in the Aegean civilization of ancient times. In the 2nd millennium BC, when the island first appears in recorded history, it was inhabited by the Dorians, and its chief towns were Kamiros, Lindos, and Ialyssos. These towns were flourishing commercial centers with colonies scattered throughout the Aegean basin. Rhodian prosperity and political power attained great heights during the 3rd and 2nd centuries BC. The city became a renowned cultural center, particularly noted for its plastic and pictorial art. Rhodian achievements in these fields found climactic expression in the paintings of Protogenes (4th century BC) and in the work of Chars (3rd century BC), creator of the celebrated Colossus (280 BC). Under the Roman Empire Rhodes enjoyed a measure of nominal independence. In AD 395, on the division of the Roman Empire, Rhodes was attached to the Byzantine Empire. It remained under Byzantine control until 1309, when it was occupied by the Knights of the order of St. John of Jerusalem. In 1522, after a bloody Turkish siege led by Suleiman I, the Knights were forced to evacuate the island. Turkish sovereignty over Rhodes lasted until the Turko-Italian War (1912), when it was taken by Italy. The island was ceded to Greece in 1947. The fascinating medieval city of the Crusaders is very much alive and inhabited, above winding streets with whitewashed, elaborately decorated houses. It is the largest of its Kind in the Mediterranean, with immeasurable possibilities for amateur and professional photographers. The old Town is centered around the impressive stone-built Palace of the Grand Master. Its 205 rooms and halls are more than just magnificent. Another unusual sight on the island is the Valley of the Butterflies. The legendary town of Lindos is situated some 35 miles southeast of Rhodes and crowned by the unique flat-topped rock formation, rising some 400 feet above the deep blue sea. Lindos is blessed with the Temple of Athena, which makes it an inspiring sight. Immediately bellow the Acropolis is the clustered cubist district, a town whose origins date back some 3500 years. The area"s fascination is never-ending as it includes the black and white pebble street and courtyard mosaics, along with such impressive creations as the carving in solid rock of an ancient Greek tritium ship, a clear indication of the commercial and naval authority that Lindos used to exert over the entire Mediterranean. Further away, visitors will have the chance to relax in two sheltered bays, both rimmed with strips of fine sandy shores. Castles fringe the picturesque landscape and contrast with the neat, whitewashed churches. Rhodes is an island that is overflowing with flowers from vast fields to small colorful gardens and flower-beds. Rhodes has 44 villages, the most important of which include Afandou, Archangelos, Koskinou, Monolithos, Apolakia, Gennadi, Klithies (Faliraki) and Ialyssos (Trianda). In some of these, visitors will have the chance to witness artisans make carpets, ceramics and pottery. For sporting enthusiasts, the island offers an unlimited array of sports, including golf, tennis, volleyball, jogging, aerobics, and certainly all the water-sports expected from a destination of this caliber; wind-surfing, restaurants serving Greek and International cuisine, along with bars, discos and a modern casino. Rhodes is an international meeting place. Its geographic location, reputation, history, cultural tradition and tourist infrastructure have established the island as the ideal place for conferences, a fact witnessed almost immediately after the island was liberated and ceded to Greece in 1947.  This unique resort has held a very long list of meetings, starting with the United Nations Meeting to establish the State of Israel in 1949, and including the Panorthodox Congresses in 1962, the Conferences of the World Council of Churches, the European Community summit in December 1988, the meeting of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the European Conservative Party Convention, and hundreds more, both by official governmental bodies and private companies. Conventions, meetings and incentives can be held in venues that range from ancient open-air theaters to medieval palaces, ultra-modern hotels and fully equipped conference centers. The island"s airport facilitates both domestic and international transportation, connecting Rhodes with most major European cities.

 

Kos

Kos, the second largest of the Dodecanese, was declared as the European City 1995, and is an island rich in vegetation, tropical beauty, endless sandy beaches and a history 2500 years long. It consists mostly of fertile and well-tilled plains and partially of hilly country. The island of Kos is famous as the birthplace of Hippocrates, the father of Medicine and the first to rid this science from the likes of magicians and clergies.  Even in our days, the "Oath of the medical practitioners" reenacted during the Summer in the Asklipiio, has established Hippocrates as the greatest medical personality of all times. Kos contains many important architectural remains of ancient Greek civilization, the most important of which include the Asklipiio, with only a few columns remaining of its temple, and Hippocrates? Plane tree, which is probably the oldest of its kind in Europe and believed to have provided the shade in which Hippocrates taught medicine to his students. Near the Asklipiio is the International Hippocrates Institution. Other historical sights are the Castle of the Knights, the Foros arcade, the Conservatory (3rd century AD), the Casa Rubina (a roman mansion) and Xystos, part of the Gymnasium (2nd century BC). Kos"s incredible natural beauty has lead to its development into a tourist center of significant importance, considered to be one of the most famous destinations in Greece. The island boasts a very well developed tourist infrastructure, which offers the ideal choice for every visitor. The principal town and port of the island, also named Kos, was an important center of learning during the reign of the Greco-Egyptian King Ptolemy II. It features great natural surroundings, long lines of palm-trees and highly significant archaeological sights, including a 14th century fortress erected by the Knights of Rhodes. Kos town is an ideal place for relaxing strolls and cycling. The area of Lambi is situated in the northwest, while Psalidi is on the southeastern side of the island. Thermes, of volcanic origin and featuring hot therapeutic springs is only a short ride away. The island is also blessed with beautiful beaches, including Tigaki, Marmari, Kardamena, and Kefalos. The island of Kos features a sound infrastructure and fully equipped halls, some of which are newly built, capable of hosting even the most demanding conferences, meetings and incentives.

 

Kalymnos

Kalymnos island has been famous for its natural sponge industry, one of best in the world. It also has a rich historical past and natural contrasts. Its capital, picturesque Pothia, is built in tiers with colorful houses rising up a hillside. It features many traditional mansions, several Byzantine churches and a medieval castle. There are many mountain caves, while its unique beaches are among the best in the country. The island is also known for its many small bays offering visitors a chance to enjoy swimming away from crowded beaches.

 

Karpathos

Karpathos is situated halfway between the islands Rhodes and Crete, with a beautiful mountainous scenery. The unique village of Olympus features architecture and tradition dating back to Dorian times. Crystal-clear waters and endless beaches together with well-designed tourist facilities allow guests to this island to choose from a vast range of activities.

 

Patmos

Patmos is the holy island with beautiful coastal areas, crystal-clear seas, blue skies, a refreshing breeze, traditional picturesque villages, and an eventful past. Visitors are offered warm hospitality by the friendly locals, as well as the chance to pay tribute to many attractions, such as the Monastery of St. John the Divine, built in 1088 by monk Christodoulos, and the Grotto of the Apocalypse, which goosed the "student of love" during his exile in Patmos between 95 and 98 AD. In summer 1995 the island staged a large feast to commemorate the 1900 years from the writing of St. John"s book of Revelations. Chora, the capital, is built in an amphitheatric style on a hill slope crowned by the imposing monastery of St. John. Apart from its historical and religious importance, Patmos also features a number of suburb beaches and a developed tourist infrastructure.

 

Leros

Leros has been inhabited since prehistoric times but in recent times has been a hideaway for several authors. It"s also a favorite for many artists. Its natural port is one of the best and largest in the eastern Mediterranean. Peaceful holidays in harmonious coexistence with the beautiful natural surroundings is the gift of Leros to travelers.

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