Hope you’ve had your rest on Rhodes’ beaches through the last Glimpse, since today – we are off to one extremely important town of this Greek island. And we’ll be rushing around its narrow alleys among white houses, climbing up to the Acropolis, we will plunge into the turquoise sea at the very cove where Apostle Paul disembarked once, and we will go into the 14th century church!
Welcome to the town of Lindos!
Going to Santorini? Read this first!
To tell you the truth, I was really impatient to visit this town. I was thinking few months ago that it would be lovely to travel to Santorini this summer, since I would love to rest my eyes upon those white houses with blue rooftops looking over beautiful dark blue sea below. And then, I did an even better thing – I came to Rhodes with Oden World Travel, and now I have the chance to see another Greek settlement of white houses, where this practice of painting in white began in the first place!
It was Turks who introduced the white lime in the 16th century. While it was practical, since the lime-wash allowed walls to breath, unlike any other paint, protecting stone, brick and wood, and it didn’t soak up the sun rays and heat, it was also very cheap at the time. So, Lindians embraced this material and started to paint their houses in white lime. The practice was soon welcomed by other people and other islands, hence – white villages on Santorini or Mykonos for example!
Today, we consider this to be a Greek tradition, especially related to islands. But it did not start as a way to make those villages more beautiful or stylish, but because of more down-to-earth reasons.
Should I mention that I was blown away by this fact! And that when people say: “Lindos is so pretty, looks like Santorini!”, it should actually be the other way around. I immediately got impatient to visit all the beautiful Greek white-village islands. Have seen their origin, and now it’s only natural to meet all the “children” again, right!
Naval power and famous sculptors
But, let’s start from the beginning. Lindos is way more than just a stylish Greek white village. Being one of the three most important island towns (along with Ialyssos and Kameiros, remember?), that were founded by Dorians in the 12th century BC, Lindos was very important. It was a capital and the stronghold of Rhodes!
When Rhodes sent nine ships to take part in the Trojan War (more info in previous Glimpses), it is believed that they all came from Lindos. The development of the town was due to its naval power. Have already mentioned that the town had colonies by the 7th century BC. It monopolized large part of trade and shipping in the Mediterranean. Lindians were the first to draw up a naval code of justice as the Rhodian Naval Code. This was to become the basis of Roman naval justice and it’s even to be found in the core of modern maritime law. When the town of Rhodes was built in 408 BC, a lot of inhabitants moved there from Lindos and the village has started to decline but it did preserve the practice of maritime trade.
The Lindians were also great sculptors, their bronze statues are famed for their incomparable craft. This is where Chares came from, the same sculptor who did the 31-meter high statue of Colossus in Rhodes town at the end of the 3rd century BC that is now known as one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. (More about Colossus in previous Glimpses!)
Temple of Athena and St. Paul
The town reached the height of its power in the 6th century BC during the reign of Cleobulos, who is regarded as one of the Seven Sages of antiquity. He was the first to support the funding of public works by fund-raising among the citizens. Money from these drives were used to build the Temple of Athena in 550 BC. (It is possible to go inside the walls of Acropolis, built by Knights of Rhodes around the ancient location, the fee is 12 euros. Even though the ancient remains were not that numerous as one would expect, the view from up there will leave you in an awe.)
Among the most important finds in the area are two marble plaques inscribed by a priest of Athena in 99 BC. One of them is a list of the visitors to the temple. There are names such as Herakles, Helen of Troy and Menelaos, King of Persia and Alexander the Great. The temple stayed in operation until the end of the 4th century AD when Theodosious II ordered the destruction of all the remnants of idolatry. The Olympic Games were also forbidden at that time and priests of Lindian Athena sentenced to death.
There is also one important liaison between Lindos and Christianity. According to tradition, the harbor in Lindos took its name from the Apostle Paul who disembarked here during his visit to preach the message of Jesus. There is a small church dedicated to St. Paul, which they say is popular among Greeks for weddings. And that cove is just gorgeous, one of the loveliest bays I have seen on the whole island!
Gorge between rocks
Just imagine – two small beaches with short line of fine sand between rocks on both sides, sunbeds scattered on different rock levels and the sea so clear and crisp that you can see all the way to the bottom! If you look up, there proudly stands the Acropolis at its 166 meters in heights. And here below, I couldn’t wait to jump in!
It was still early, nobody was swimming yet. They have told me that it’s possible to swim through one gorge between the rocks and around it, and that I would come out to the cove again. Well, I did swim right there to the gorge, but it was a bit scary. I mean, if I go through, I’ll be in the open where nobody can see me from the small bay…
While I was thinking whether to do it or not, a guy came in through that passage, kayaking. This was my chance! I have asked him just to be there, to wait until I swim around that huge rock and come out on the other end, just to make sure someone knows I’m out there. And he did, so nice of him! And I swam around, so courageous of me! I was so proud, still am.
Chochlaki at the Church
Came out of the water, rushed to pack my things I threw around, since I was impatient to plunge in, and went up again, back to the white village. Loved those small houses, took few hundred photos I think, at least! Even got lost at some point, but the Acropolis is there to be navigated by, since you can see it from every part of the town.
Wanted to visit the Church of Our Lady (Theotokou) that was most probably built in the 14th century on the site of an older church. The Grand Master d’Aubusson renovated it in 1489 and built the bell-tower on which his coat-of-arms can be seen. Wall paintings on the interior wall date back to 1799 while the wood carving is from the 17th century. The floor is decorated with black and white pebbles, the technique known as the chochlaki that has its roots in the Hellenistic period and reached its zenith during the Byzantine era. (Different examples can be found throughout Rhodes, in the Old Town as well.)
You will get appropriate clothing if you do not have one and are expected to leave a small contribution to the church. Everywhere you look inside you will find another marvel to be fascinated by. I was amazed by the floor!
And so, I strolled those narrow, white cobblestone alleys again, trying to get to the “official” beach (more about it in the Glimpse about Rhodes’ beaches!). The only thing I was a bit disturbed by is the so called “Lindos’ taxi”, lines of donkeys going up and down towards the Acropolis, carrying tourists for 6 euros…
Still, the town was such a breath taking experience! (Hence, such a long post!)
Next: ROADTRIP TO THE EAST (7)