Rhodes, lying at the eastern end of the Aegean Sea is one of the great islands of the Mediterranean. This sunny retreat is also home to many historic sites, such as the ruins of the Temple of Venus and the medieval Street of Knights. Rhodes, pronounced ro-dos, is the largest of the Dodecanese Islands. The varied landscape with beaches, wooded areas, and ancient ruins also make this one of the most alluring of the Greek archipelago and the medieval Old Town with its winding cobbled streets is a highlight. Having lived under the control of Persia, Rome, the Knights of St. John, and finally the Ottoman Turks, Rhodes didn’t become a part of Greece until 1947, when the Dodecanese Islands were formally made a part of the country.
The Colossus of Rhodes is familiar to almost everyone. Where the famous Colossus may have stood are now a bronze stag and doe. The Rhodians decided to express their pride by building a triumphal statue of their favorite god, Helios, and twelve years (from 304 to 292 BC) were needed to complete it. A chain blocking the entrance was deployed during the time of the Knights, with ships paying a 2% tax (based on the value of their cargo) to help the war effort. From its building to its destruction lies a time span of merely 56 years. The Colossus of Rhodes was not only a gigantic statue. It was a symbol of unity of the people who inhabited that beautiful Mediterranean island of Rhodes.
Santorini with its whitewashed houses is undoubtedly the most extraordinary island in the Aegean, arriving by ship, you are met by one of the world’s truly breathtaking sights, the caldera: a crescent of cliffs in black, pink, brown, white, and pale green, rising 1,100 feet, with the clusters of the towns perched along the top. Fira, aka the ancient greek name of Thira, is the capital. From Ormos old seaport, you can walk up/down the 600 stone steps, hop on a mule or smartly take the short cable car ride that offers great views of the houses, churches, monasteries, hotels and restaurants lie down the cliffs one on top of another using the neighbor’s roof as their terrace. All are painted in white and blue. The encircling cliffs are the ancient rim of a still-active volcano. The island of Santorini is related to the myth of Atlantis where it is believed to be the lost “Atlantis” because of the fact that half of the island was sunk after the eruption of a volcano in 1,500 B.C.
Mykonos has become one of the most popular of the Aegean islands put firmly on the map by Jacqueline Onassis. Travelers are drawn to its many stretches of sandy beach, its thatched windmills, and its picturesque port town, also called Mykonos. Mykonos is also renowned for its outrageous nightlife, with more bars and discos per square foot than just about anywhere else on the planet. Its chic ambience can be seen everywhere, from marvelous gay bars to gourmet restaurants, and offbeat galleries. Its marinas are always full of VIP yachts and sailing boats, filled with incognito rock stars, designers, movie stars, and politicians!
Katakolon is a small port town in the northern Peloponnese. Once a busy commercial port, its main draw is the gateway to ancient Olympia, which is 30 km (18 mi) to the east. Many restaurants and cafés offer a view of the Ionian sea to go with their menus of fresh seafood and strong Greek coffee. The lighthouse dates to 1865.