Easter Serenity: A Traveler’s spiritual retreat to Rhodes Island, in Greece

Rhodes Easter

A complete guide on Greek Orthodox Easter 2024 in Rhodes Island, by the team at Greeklist.

1. Orthodox Easter in Rhodes

As Orthodox Easter approaches (May 5th 2024), the island of Rhodes emerges as a sanctuary of serenity and celebration in the heart of the Aegean Sea. Steeped in ancient history and adorned with the beauty of spring, Rhodes invites travellers to partake in a unique blend of tradition and tranquillity. Here, amidst the sun-drenched landscapes and azure waters of the Dodecanese Islands, the spirit of Easter permeates every corner, from the solemn rituals of its Byzantine churches to the joyous gatherings of its lively communities.

Rhodes Easter Night

2. Brief History of Rhodes

Rhodes’ history is a captivating tapestry woven by various civilizations.  In antiquity, the island flourished as a powerful maritime centre.  Around 1400 BC, the Dorians arrived and established the three powerful city-states of Lindos, Ialysus, and Camirus.  These city-states later united to form the island of Rhodes, renowned for its impressive Colossus, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World (olthough nowadays is destroyed). The island fell under Roman rule in 70 AD and remained a vital part of the Roman Empire for centuries.

The arrival of the Middle Ages ushered in a golden era for Rhodes.  In 1309, the Knights Hospitaller, a powerful Christian military order, took control of the island.  They transformed the capital city into a formidable fortress, withstanding numerous sieges, most notably against the Ottomans in 1480.  However, in 1522, the Ottomans finally conquered Rhodes, marking the beginning of Ottoman rule that lasted for nearly four centuries.

The 19th century brought significant change.  With the rise of Greek nationalism, Rhodes became part of the Greek War of Independence in 1821.  However, the island remained under Ottoman control up to 1921 where the island was handed to Italy.  Finally, in 1947, after the end of World War II, Rhodes was officially reunited with Greece (as part of the Dodecanese Islands), marking the end of a long period of foreign rule.

 

Colossus of Rhodes
Colossus of Rhodes
Ruins of Ancient Lindos
Ruins of Ancient Lindos
The Knights of Rhodes
The Knights of Rhodes
Siege of Rhodes 1522
Siege of Rhodes 1522
Unification of Dodekanese
Unification with Greece. March 1947 (newspaper)

3. Getting to Rhodes from United Kingdom

Travelling to Rhodes from the United Kingdom is convenient, with direct flights available from major airports. Whether you choose to fly into Rhodes International Airport or opt for a scenic ferry journey from Piraeus Port or Athens, the journey promises to be the start of an unforgettable adventure.

The flight duration is approximately 4 hours, with direct flights from London & Edinburgh. Book your tickets from Skyscanner.

Alternatively, fly to Athens, and then take the boat from Piraeus Port for a long but beautiful 17 hour trip through the Aegean Sea. Book your tickets from Ferryhopper.

Rhodes Island
Rhodes Island

4. The Weather in Rhodes during Easter

During Easter (late April, early May) on Rhodes, expect mild temperatures ranging from 18°C to 22°C, creating ideal conditions for outdoor adventures. The island boasts clear blue skies and gentle Mediterranean breezes, perfect for leisurely strolls along its picturesque coastline or exploring its ancient landmarks. Evenings bring a subtle coolness, ideal for enjoying traditional Greek cuisine at outdoor tavernas or sipping cocktails by the sea. Pack light layers to accommodate the changing temperatures and make the most of the island’s delightful springtime weather.

For a comprehensive forecast, check meteo.gr.

5. Top Destinations and Attractions in Rhodes

From the medieval grandeur of Rhodes Old Town to the serene sanctuaries of its historic churches, each destination offers a glimpse into the island’s captivating past and vibrant present.

Here are the top-destinations in Rhodes:

  • Medieval City of Rhodes: A captivating labyrinth of cobbled streets, towering walls, and historical landmarks. Immerse yourself in the city’s rich past by exploring the Palace of the Grand Master of the Knights of Rhodes, the Street of the Knights, and the imposing Clock Tower.
  • Medieval City of Rhodes
  • Mandraki Harbor: Step back in time at Mandraki Harbor, the city’s historic port. Spot the famous Colossus of Rhodes statues guarding the harbor entrance, although these are not the originals from the ancient world. Explore the harborside cafes and restaurants, embark on a boat trip, or simply soak in the vibrant atmosphere of this picturesque spot.
  • Mandraki Harbour
  • Lindos Acropolis: A majestic citadel perched on a rocky cliff overlooking the Aegean Sea. Explore the remnants of the ancient Doric temple dedicated to Athena Lindia, a significant archaeological site. Be rewarded with breathtaking panoramic views of the surrounding coastline and the charming village of Lindos nestled below.
  • Acropolis of Lindos
  • Valley of the Butterflies: During the spring and summer months, witness a breathtaking spectacle as thousands of butterflies, particularly the Jersey Tiger moth, blanket the lush vegetation. Stroll along the scenic trails, admire the vibrant colors, and experience the tranquility of this hidden oasis.
  • Vallley of Butterflies
  • Ancient Kamiros: Explore the captivating ruins of Ancient Kamiros, an archaeological site dating back to the 5th century BC. Wander through the remnants of houses, temples, and public buildings, and imagine life in this ancient city. Discover Doric temples, a marketplace, and a well-preserved acropolis, offering a glimpse into Rhodes’ rich history.
  • Ancient Kamiros
  • Church of the Annunciation of the Virgin Mary: Located north of Mandraki Harbor in Rhodes Old Town, this impressive church is the island’s cathedral. Originally constructed in the 1920s during the Italian occupation as a Catholic church, it was converted into a Greek Orthodox church after World War II.
  • Efta Piges (Seven Springs): Follow a scenic path lined with lush vegetation and discover a series of cascading waterfalls and natural pools. Take a dip in the cool, crystal-clear waters, explore the surrounding greenery, and enjoy a tranquil escape in nature.
  • Seven Springs
  • Palace of the Grand Master of the Knights of Rhodes: This imposing fortress, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, served as the headquarters for the Knights of Rhodes during the Middle Ages. Explore the lavishly decorated halls, courtyards, and gardens, and delve into the island’s fascinating history.
  • Palace of the Knights of Rhodes
  • Panagia tou Kastrou (Our Lady of the Castle): This Byzantine church, nestled atop the hill of Monte Smith, offers panoramic views of Rhodes Town and the surrounding coastline, as well as beautiful Byzantine artwork.
  • Panagia tou Kastrou
  • Monastery of Filerimos: Dedicated to Virgin Mary and located on the hill of Filerimos near the village of Ialyssos, is a historic site of religious significance in Rhodes. Dating back to the Byzantine era, the monastery features a mix of architectural styles, including Byzantine, Gothic, and Renaissance elements.
  • Filerimos Monastery
  • Church of Saint Spyridon: Pay homage to the church of patron saint of Rhodes, Saint Spyridon, where his relics are housed in a magnificent shrine adorned with intricate artwork and religious iconography.
  • Church of Saint Spyridon
  • Ladiko Beach: Often referred to as Anthony Quinn Bay due to the filming of the movie “Zorba the Greek” starring Anthony Quinn. Ladiko Beach offers a picturesque cove with crystal-clear waters and smooth pebbles.
  • Ladiko Beach
  • Profitis Ilias Mountain: Embark on a scenic journey to Profitis Ilias (Prophet Elijah), the highest mountain on Rhodes. Drive or hike to the summit and be rewarded with breathtaking panoramic views of the entire island and the surrounding Aegean Sea. On a clear day, you might even spot neighbouring islands in the distance.
  • Profitis Ilias Mountain
  • Church of Saint Panteleimon: Located in the village Sianna,  this church is dedicated to Saint Panteleimon, drawing worshippers and pilgrims seeking his intercession for healing and protection.
  • Agios Panteleimon Church

6. Cuisine and Dining in Rhodes during Easter

During Easter in Rhodes, culinary delights abound as the island comes alive with a feast for the senses.

The best Easter Dishes

Traditional Greek Easter dishes take centre stage such as:

    • Ovelias (roast lamb): The centrepiece of the Easter meal, succulent roast lamb is seasoned with garlic, oregano, and lemon, then slow-roasted until tender and golden brown. It symbolises the sacrificial lamb and is always enjoyed with greek fried potatoes.
    • Ovelias
      Ovelias
    • Magiritsa Soup: A traditional Easter soup made from lamb offal (such as liver, heart, and lungs), cooked with onions, dill, and lettuce, thickened with avgolemono (egg-lemon) sauce, and served hot as a comforting starter to the Easter feast.
    • Mageiritsa Soup
    • Kokoretsi: Features skewered and roasted offal, seasoned with herbs and spices, delivering a savoury and aromatic experience emblematic of the festive season, made from lamb or goat intestines stuffed with a flavorful mixture of organ meats.
    • Kokoretsi
    • Tsoureki (Easter bread): A sweet, braided Easter bread enriched with eggs, butter, and aromatic spices like mastic. Tsoureki is often decorated with almonds or sesame seeds and enjoyed as a breakfast treat or dessert during Easter celebrations.
    • Tsoureki
    • Paschalina Koulourakia: (Easter cookies): Flavoured with vanilla or orange zest and shaped into various twists or knots. Koulourakia are a beloved Easter tradition, often enjoyed with coffee or as a sweet snack throughout the day.
    • Koulourakia

Special mention: The Easter Eggs. Hard-boiled eggs dyed red to symbolize the blood of Christ and the resurrection. These eggs are a ubiquitous symbol of Easter in Greece and are exchanged among family and friends  and then the game of Tsougrisma (egg tapping) takes place as a sign of good luck and renewal.

Greek Easter Eggs

Apart from the special Easter dishes, there are many other Greek dishes, so check out our guide in Greek Cuisine!

The best restaurants in Rhodes:

Here are some recommendations for the best places to eat in Rhodes.

Check here for more places to eat in Rhodes!

7. Unique church services during Easter

During Orthodox Easter , the island comes alive with unique church services that blend ancient traditions with modern celebrations.

During Holy Thursday,  special morning service, the Vesperal Divine Liturgy of Saint Basil, takes place. This liturgy remembers the Last Supper, where Jesus established the sacrament of the Eucharist. In the evening, the  reading of the Twelve Gospels is a unique element on Thursday night. These twelve passages recount the events leading up to Christ’s crucifixion, preparing the faithful for the somber mood of Holy Friday. During the ceremony, the priest caries the Cross around the chuch.

Holy Thursday

Holy Friday is a day of mourning. Α solemn ceremony called the Veneration of the Cross takes place. During this ceremony, the faithful venerate the cross, a symbol of Christ’s sacrifice. Another unique element of Holy Friday is the Epitaphios, a beautiful floral decoration symbolising the tomb of Christ. The Epitaphios is adorned with flowers and icons, and is paraded  through the streets during the night while the faithful are chanting mourning chants.

Epitafios

One of the most significant moments of the Easter period is the midnight liturgy on Holy Saturday, where worshippers gather to celebrate the Resurrection with candlelight processions, hymns, and the symbolic lighting of the Holy Fire from Jerusalem. The bells ring cheerful while the faithful chant Hristos Anesti! (Christ is Risen!) accompanied by fireworks.

Holy Saturday

8. Islands close to Rhodes for Day Trips

Introducing the enchanting nearby islands of Chalki, Symi, and Tilos, each offering a unique blend of beauty, history, and tranquillity, perfect for unforgettable day trips from Rhodes.

  • Chalki Island: Chalki, also known as Halki, beckons with its quaint villages, serene beaches, and laid-back vibe. Wander through the charming harbour of Nimborio, where colourful buildings reflect in the azure waters. Explore hidden gems like the Monastery of Saint Nicholas and unwind on pristine shores like Ftenagia Beach.
  • Halki
  • Symi Island: Symi exudes elegance with its neoclassical architecture, picturesque harbour, and captivating vistas. Stroll through the narrow streets of Ano Symi, adorned with pastel-coloured houses and blooming bougainvillea. Indulge in a leisurely boat trip to secluded bays, such as Nanou and Agios Vasilios, for a tranquil escape.
  • Symi
  • Tilos Island: Tilos entices adventurers with its rugged landscapes, ancient ruins, and untouched beauty. Hike through the lush Mikro Chorio Valley, where remnants of a bygone era lie scattered amidst verdant foliage. Unwind on the pristine shores of Livadia Beach or explore the medieval village of Megalo Chorio for a glimpse into Tilos’ rich history.
  • Tilos

9. Accommodation Options in Rhodes

Whether you prefer luxury resorts overlooking the sea, cozy boutique hotels in the heart of the Old Town, or budget-friendly accommodations close to the beach, Rhodes offers a range of lodging options to suit every preference and budget.

Here is our selection accommodation options in Rhodes:

Find more Greeklist exclusive Hotel deals for Rhodes and HotelBrain here!

10. Local Transportation and Getting Around in Rhodes

Navigating Rhodes is easy, with a network of buses, taxis, and rental cars available for convenient transportation around the island. Alternatively, explore the island on foot or rent a scooter for a fun and adventurous way to see the sights.

  • Public buses cover major attractions and towns, providing an affordable option for exploring the island.
  • Taxis offer convenient door-to-door service, ideal for short trips or reaching off-the-beaten-path destinations.
  • Renting a car provides flexibility and independence, allowing travelers to venture into remote areas at their own pace.
  • Renting a scooter provides a fun and adventurous option for navigating Rhodes’ winding roads and coastal paths.
  • Exploring on foot offers a scenic way to experience the island’s landscapes and villages.

11. Safety and Travel Tips for Rhodes

When visiting Rhodes, it’s important to prioritise safety and make the most of your trip. Here are some tips:

  • Emergency Numbers:
  1. the local police (100),
  2. medical emergency (166)
  3. fire department (199).
  4. British Embassy in Athens (+302107272600)
  5. British Vice Consulate in Rhodes (+302241022005)
    • Healthcare Awareness: Familiarise yourself with the location of medical facilities and pharmacies in case of emergencies.
    • Language: Although English is commonly spoken in Rhodes, taking the time to learn a few basic Greek phrases can enrich your experience, demonstrating appreciation for the local language and cultivating a stronger connection with the culture. Especially for Easter, Hristos Anesti! (Christ is Risen!) is a must!
    • Travel Documentation: Ensure you have all necessary travel documents, including your passport, visa (if required), travel insurance, and any health-related documents or vaccinations.
    • Weather Awareness: Keep in mind the weather forecast before your trip and prepare accordingly, as the climate can vary throughout the year.
    • Environmental Awareness: Respect the natural environment in Rhodes by avoiding littering, sticking to designated trails when hiking, and refraining from damaging or disturbing wildlife and ecosystems.
    • Church Etiquette: When visiting churches in Rhodes, dress modestly and respectfully, covering your shoulders and knees. Avoid loud conversations and turn off your mobile phone to maintain a quiet and reverent atmosphere.
    • Electrical Compatibility: British visitors to Greece should ensure they have a travel adapter compatible with Europlug Type C or Type F sockets to effortlessly power their electronic devices during their stay.
    • Greek Coffee: Savour the bold and aromatic flavours of Greek coffee, an age-old tradition served in small cups that capture the essence of hospitality and meaningful conversations.
  • Interfaith Dialogue: Embrace the opportunity to engage in interfaith dialogue with members of the local community, learning about their beliefs and practices while sharing your own. Respectful conversations can foster mutual understanding and appreciation.
  • Currency: In Greece, the official currency is the Euro, making it essential to have some cash on hand for minor transactions. However, credit cards are widely accepted, providing convenient payment options. Additionally, ATMs are conveniently located across the island for easy access to cash when needed.
  • Embrace Greek Hospitality: Prepare to be welcomed with warmth and generosity by the locals in Rhodes, as hospitality is deeply ingrained in Greek culture. Be open to spontaneous invitations, enjoy lively conversations, and savour the traditional treats offered as a gesture of friendship and goodwill.

12. Interesting F.A.Q.s for Rhodes

Unravel the intricacies of Easter in Rhodes with these enlightening FAQs, offering insights into the island’s traditions, culture, and celebrations.

What does the name Rhodes mean?

The name “Rhodes” is believed to have originated from the ancient Greek word “rhódon,” which means “rose.” This etymology is often attributed to the island’s abundance of roses, which flourished in its fertile soil and mild climate. Over time, the name “Rhodes” became associated with the island itself, symbolising its natural beauty and floral abundance.

What makes Rhodes unique?

Historically, Rhodes was famous for the Colossus of Rhodes, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. The Medieval Old Town of the City of Rhodes has been declared a World Heritage Site. Today, it is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Europe.

Is it necessary to rent a car to explore Rhodes?

While renting a car can provide flexibility, it’s not necessary to explore Rhodes. The island has a well-developed public transportation system, including buses and taxis, making it easy to get around without a car.

Is it customary to tip in Rhodes?

Tipping is appreciated but not mandatory in Rhodes. In restaurants, a service charge may be included in the bill, but it’s common to leave a small additional tip for good service. Similarly, it’s customary to tip taxi drivers and hotel staff for exceptional service.

What is the significance of Easter in Rhodes?

Easter holds significant religious and cultural importance in Rhodes (and Greece in general), marking the resurrection of Jesus Christ and symbolising new life and renewal. It is celebrated with a combination of religious rituals, traditions, and festive events.

Can non-Orthodox participate in Easter celebrations in Rhodes?

Yes, everyone is welcome to participate in Easter celebrations in Rhodes, including attending church services, joining candlelight processions, and enjoying festive meals with locals. It’s a unique opportunity to experience the island’s culture and traditions firsthand.

What is the nightlife like in Rhodes?

Rhodes has a vibrant nightlife scene, especially in areas like Faliraki and Rhodes Town, where you’ll find a variety of bars, clubs, and live music venues. However, the island also offers quieter spots for those seeking a more relaxed evening atmosphere.

Is Rhodes good for couples?

With miles of beaches, mountains, castles, fresco-covered churches, one of the finest medieval towns in all of the Mediterranean (and eight sunny months a year), where else would you want to go for a couples holiday?

Are shops closed in Rhodes during Easter?

Most shops are closed on Holy Friday, while  others are open and close early. Sunday & Monday are the official closure days. However restaurants, taverns and cafeterias are usually open but it is advised to make a phone call first.

Why do Greeks crack red eggs at Easter?

Greeks crack red eggs at Easter as a symbol of Christ’s resurrection, representing the shedding of His blood and the promise of new life. It’s a cherished tradition where friends and family compete to crack each other’s eggs, with the last uncracked egg symbolising good luck.

13. Conclusion

In conclusion, as you bid farewell to the captivating island of Rhodes, may the spirit of Easter linger in your heart, guiding you on your journey forward. Amidst the ancient history and breathtaking landscapes, you’ve experienced not just a holiday destination, but a profound encounter with tradition, culture, and spirituality. As you carry the memories of candlelight processions, joyful celebrations, and the warm embrace of Greek hospitality, may they serve as a reminder of the timeless significance of renewal and hope.

Easter at Rhodes

Whether you return to Rhodes or carry its spirit with you wherever you may wander, may the blessings of Easter accompany you, illuminating your path with grace and inspiration!

 

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