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Sailing Itineraries in Greece - Dodecanese Islands
Destinations » Dodecanese Islands
The Dodecanese are located East of the Cyclades, West of the coast of Asia Minor, and North-East of Crete. It is an enchanted world, where the sun paints pictures and gives life. The mild winters and refreshing summers give the Dodecanese one of the healthiest climates in the Mediterranean. The islands of the Dodecanese are engaged in a beauty contest with no clear winner.
In the summer the prevailing wind is the meltemi blowing from a North-West direction at Force 4-6. In Spring and Autumn the wind is less strong and blows from the South-East. These islands are a sailor's paradise of more than 163 islands and islets. You will find on each island uncounted beautiful beaches and bays that you should not miss. The remotest of the Greek archipelagos the Dodecanese was only incorporated into modern Greece in 1948, after 500 years of occupation by the Latin Knights of St John, the Ottomans, the Italians, the Germans and the British. Through it all the islanders have retained their Greek cultural identity.
The islands' history has left a legacy of rich and diverse archeological remains. Members of the Dodecanese display a marked schizophrenia. Dry limestone outcrops such as Kalymnos, Symi and Kastellorizo attract those in pursuit of the traditional island life while the sprawling sandy giants of Rhodes and Kos have beaches and bars galore. Nisyros and Tilos are volcanic, while Astypalea and Patmos at the fringes resemble more the Cyclades.
This island group is renowned for its temperate climate and long tourist season.
With an east coast of endless sandy beaches and sunshine 300 days a year, Rhodes is the most popular of the Dodecanese. It is also the largest, with a population of over 98,000. The luxuriant interior is beautiful. Tucked into the foothills of its mountains are charming villages. The incredibly well preserved old town of Rhodes is the largest inhabited medieval town in Europe. Behind imposing walls, it is the fortified nucleus of Rhodes City. The tranquil, twisting alleyways in the old town are a web of Byzantine, Turkish and Latin architecture. A fascinating sight to explore is the cobblestoned lanes and Gothic inns of the Knight's Quarter. With its old mosques and Turkish baths, the Hora has more of an Ottoman influence. The new town was once the site of the ancient Hellenistic city of Rhodes, today it is a lively entertainment center with over 600 discos and bars to choose from.
The brilliant white houses of Lindos with their pebbled mosaic courtyards date back to the 17th century. It will be a pleasure exploring the maze like alleyways of this beautiful village. The Acropolis of Lindos is the most famous of the Dodecanese's ancient cities. Dating back to 2000 BC, it is a mélange of Byzantine, Frankish and Turkish remains. It is strikingly set atop a rock 116m high.
The unspoilt villages of mountainous Karpathos are rich in tradition, here the inhabitants have retained their local customs and ways. In the village of Olymbos (pop 340) the women dress in colorful, ornamental skirts, vests, headscarves, and goatskin boats. They still bake in outdoor communal ovens and grind corn in windmills. The inhabitants speak in a dialect containing some Doric words.
The tiny, remote island of Kastellorizo has a population of only 200, tourism here is very low key. There are no beaches, instead you will find several rocky inlets, where you can swim and snorkel in the crystalline sea. The only settlement is Kastellorizo Town, imposing three story mansions border the waterfront. With the Knights of St John Castle situated above the quay, it is one of the most picturesque harbors in the Dodecanese. On the southeastern coast of the island is the beautiful blue cave.
Isolated Tilos has fine tranquil beaches, vistas of high cliffs, rocky inlets and valleys of almond and walnut trees. For those seeking a relaxing, authentic Greek island feel, Tilos is it. There are only two settlements, the peaceful whitewashed village of Magalo Horio and the waterfront town of Livadia. The uncrowded beaches of Eristos (shaded), Agios Antonis (sandy) and Plaka are a real treat after spending time at some of the popular beach resorts on Rhodes and Kos
Symi's rugged interior is accented with cypress and pine forests. The small bays and pebbled beaches along the coast are indented with towering cliffs. Because of the mild climate, the season here lasts until late October. Symi Town is a Greek gem. Neoclassical mansions painted in a variety of colors ascend the steep hillside, surrounding the curved harbor.
Situated only 5km off the Turkish peninsula of Bodrum, is Kos, one of the most fertile islands in the Dodecanese. Like Rhodes, it is abundant with ancient remains and beautiful beaches. The landscape of modern Kos Town, the island's capital and main port, is picturesque and luxuries. The Castle of the Knights prevails over the port, while Hellenistic and Roman ruins are littered everywhere. There are numerous archaeological sites to visit here.
The Asclepion is Kos' most important ancient site, it is located on a pine covered hill 4km southwest of Kos Town. Until 554 AD people came from far and wide to be treated at its healing center, there was also a school of medicine where the teachings of Hippocrates was followed.
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