Rhodes is the fourth largest island in Greece and the largest of the Dodecanese islands. It’s actually closer to the Turkish mainland (18 km away) than it is to the capital, Athens (400km). It offers a fascinating mix of culture, history, beaches and outdoor adventures, and it’s long been a bucket-list destination for travellers looking for the perfect Greek island getaway. Planning a trip or looking to learn more? From ancient wonders of the world to butterfly valleys, here are some interesting facts about Rhodes that might surprise you.
Interesting facts about Rhodes
1. There’s an interesting story behind Rhodes
According to Greek mythology, Rhodes has an interesting backstory. The Sun God, Helios, fell in love with a beautiful nymph called Rhodes. When his sunlight finally touched her skin, she transformed herself into an island. Rhodes also means “rose” in Greek, which is fitting given how many flowers there are on the island.
Greek legend also claims that the first person to live on Rhodes was Tlepolemus, one of Hercules’ sons. He fled to Rhodes after slaying Licymnius, Hercules’ uncle, with his wife Polyxo. According to the story, he divided the island into three parts and founded the three Rhodian city-states of Cameirus, Ialysus and Lindus. He was the leader of the Rhodian forces in the Trojan War.
2. Rhodes is home to one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World
The Colussus of Rhodes was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. It was a statue of the Greek sun-god Helios, erected by Chares of Lindos in 280 BC to celebrate the successful defence of Rhodes against an attack. According to contemporary descriptions, it soared 33 metres (108 ft) high. That makes it around the same height as the Statue of Liberty in New York.
An earthquake damaged part of the statue in 226 BC and in 653 AD General Muawiyah I destroyed the statue and sold the remains when he conquered the city.
3. An earthquake devastated Rhodes in the early 20th century
In 1926, Rhodes saw Greece’s strongest-ever earthquake. It measured a magnitude of 8.0, destroyed thousands of buildings and killed hundreds. It was felt across the Eastern Meditteranean region.
4. You can see Turkey from Rhodes
On a clear day, you can see Turkey from Rhodes. In fact, getting to Turkey from Rhodes is easy, Marmaris is only an hour away by catamaran and two hours on a normal ferry. The Turkish
The relationship between Turkey and Rhodes runs deep. In fact, Turkey occupied the island for almost four centuries, up until 1912.
5. Rhodes is home to a famous valley of butterflies
Peataloudes, known as the Valley of Butterflies, is one of Rhodes’ most unusual tourist destinations. It’s home to millions of butterflies. The valley, which features waterfalls and lakes, is busiest during August when thousands of butterflies swarm here to reproduce. It’s illegal to capture or kill the butterflies too.
The history of the valley dates back to the early 18th century. According to local legend, a slave called “Pelekanos” committed suicide here in the name of love, hence its name. Some say Italians brought the butterflies to the valley in the 1930s but locals argue that they’ve been here for far longer.
6. Rhodes has an unusual connection to the United States
Ever wondered whether there’s a connection between Rhodes and Rhode Island, the tiny American state located off the Atlantic Ocean? Legend has it that a dapper Italian explorer called Giovanni da Verrazzano was the first person to clock eyes on the island in 1524. As he rowed towards it, he thought it looked familiar and later recalled the famous Greek island. He apparently named it Rhode Island.
7. Rhodes is known as the ‘Emerald Island’ for a good reason
Rhodes is renowned for its 42 idyllic beaches, but there’s more to the island than golden sands and ancient ruins. In fact, the island is nicknamed the ‘Emerald Island’ due to its vivid green hills and valleys. Pines and Cypress trees covered around 37% of the entire island. Some say its nickname is also down to its gemstone-like shape.