A June 2005 trip
to Rhodes by GB from Devizes
Quote: The Acropolis overlooks the town of Lindos, its sheer cliffs presenting a formidable obstacle for would-be raiders throughout history. Greeks, Byzantines, Romans, and, of course, the fabled Knights of St John have all left their mark upon this magical place, the highlight of which is the Temple of Athena Lindia.
The climb up to the Acropolis is via many steep stone steps that start off from one of the upper back alleys in the town, but the views from the summit are reward enough for your labours. The original site consisted of the Temple of Athena Lindia and dates from the second millennium BC. This temple, along with several other stunning buildings within the Acropolis, is currently undergoing massive restoration work, which accounts for the photographically annoying cranes and scaffolding that were in existence during our visit in June 2005.
After the temple was built, a large colonnaded avenue (stoa) was added, along with various vaults and cisterns, making Lindos the most important site in the entire Dodecanese.
During the Byzantine period of rule, substantial fortifications were added as the Acropolis took on a more militaristic role, and after the Knights of St John commandeered the site, much of the original Hellenistic stonework was plundered to repair and expand the Byzantine fortress.
Lindos was chosen for its virtually impregnable position; the hill has a sheer drop to the sea on three sides, with the town occupying the fourth lower side. Maritime invaders would have found it impossible to berth their craft due to the lack of any natural landing stages, and the climb to the summit would have been considered suicidal.
Today, Lindos Acropolis is crowded with visitors flocking to enjoy the stunning views, the ongoing archaeological excavations, and the sympathetic restoration work on the ancient temple. Pleasant breezes flutter across the open site, small respite from the summer sun, which is reputed to be the hottest on the island. Photo opportunities are around every corner, with the views to St Paul’s Bay and the main town beaches, as well as the more distant views to Tsambika in the north and Yennadi to the south.
The lane from the main car parks down to the town is narrow, with no defined walkway. The taxis rush by at alarming speeds and expect you to move over rather than they slow down; it’s just the Greek driving psyche and is nothing personal.
The climb to the Acropolis entrance is steep with few handrails. There are no provisions for the disabled. The staircase to the entrance is very steep and open on both sides, and children have been known to fall so parental control is essential.
Guidebooks are available, but everything inside is well labelled. I tend to take shots of the information boards. This saves having to remember what you’ve seen, and the info tends to be more concise than the book anyway.
I keep saying it, but boy, it’s hot, so keep yourself well hydrated with plenty of water. The local bottled stuff is fine and very cheap, around a euro for a litre bottle.
Buses run to Lindos from all points on the island, but remember that if you are staying on the west coast, a change of bus is necessary at Rhodes Town onto a KTEA service that runs the length of the east coast. The fare from Rhodes is around 4€, and this buys a seat on a comfortable, air-conditioned coach.
If you have a car, you can attempt squeezing into the small car park in the town. Take the lane down towards the square, go right around the olive tree, and then take the right slip to the car-park. Forget this option, though, if you arrive anytime after 11am, as it will be full.
Taxis compete vigorously for your custom. We paid about 6€ each way from Pefkos, but the fare from Rhodes Town is around 35€.
As with all major sights, every tour company offers day trips here. Book through a local travel firm rather than your tour operator for at least 15% savings.
Attraction | "The Way Up - Lace, Donkeys, and Triremes"
If you feel the heat precludes the climb or are just plain lazy, a team of donkeys are on hand to ferry you to the top via their own pathway. Their owners won’t hassle you to use them, but if you decide to avail yourself of this option, it’s a hefty 10€ either way.
The right-hand side of the pathway is a sea of local lace stalls whose owners are a bit pushy should you linger for even a second. The product is staggeringly beautiful, but staggeringly expensive compared to what’s on offer in the town itself. Just past here is the ticket booth where we are relieved of 6€ each and given our pass to the Acropolis.
The views to our left start to pan out across the sea of rooftops and church towers, whilst in front of us, the cliffs begin to fall away steeply, leaving a stunning vista of azure sea and cobalt sky. The huge cobbles have worn very shiny over the years from the multitudes of visitors, and we see a few people slip up and take a tumble, albeit not too seriously.
About halfway up, the pathway flattens for a few meters, dog-legs right, and there, to our left, carved into the rock face, is a relief of an ancient sailing galley, its prow pointing towards the final assault up to the entrance of the Acropolis. Carved by Pythokritos, the relief dates from the 5th century BC and depicts a trireme, indicating the importance Lindos once held as a trading city and as boat-builders. Lindos traded as far west as Spain and was unsurpassed in her maritime skills and power.
We brace ourselves now for the final push to the summit, a few more stone steps, then the beginning of a huge, open stone staircase that leads up to the main gateway. This is the hardest part, for it is very steep and affords no shade, unlike the olive-tree dotted pathway that has led us to this point. Both sides of the stairs are open, with no guardrails for the first few meters, after which the right-hand side becomes incorporated into the fortifications.
Puffing away like old steam engines (Caz and I always think of ourselves as being pretty fit) and dripping with perspiration, we finally reach the welcome shade of the huge main doorway, where we break out the water and take a 5-minute breather before embarking upon the wondrous sights inside.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on August 25, 2005
Lace, Donkeys, and Triremes
Lindos, Rhodes, Greece
Venturing forward a few more meters, we emerge into blinding sunshine, made all the more dazzling by our brief exploration of the main entrance and Knights’ Hall, both dark and cool. Directly in front of us, across a broad courtyard are the main quarters where the Knights were accommodated during their rule here. As with much of the ancient building here on Rhodes, it is constructed of a warm honey-coloured stone that gleams in the clear, warm air. Amazingly, we can, within reason, walk where we like. There are no ropeways or barriers so we scramble over several huge stones to get that special photograph for the album. The only areas that are out-of-bounds are those currently undergoing restoration and these are protected by makeshift fencing.
To our left now are the remains of the Byzantine Chapel of Ayios Ioannis (St John), to whom the Knights were affiliated, again constructed in warmly-hued stone and in surprisingly good condition with most of it’s roof intact and several vaulted windows still visible. Looks are deceiving though and a resident guide informs us that entry to the chapel is not possible due to dangerous masonry inside. Such a shame.
The courtyard that bounds the Hall, the Chapel and the lower end of the Monumental Stairway is littered with huge pieces of stone, all numbered according to their original position, and all awaiting their turn to be renovated and one day, to be re-seated from whence they fell.
We almost feel that we are visiting the day after a devastating earthquake has rocked the foundations of this majestic citadel, sending these massive stones hurtling to the ground. But according to our friend the guide, there is no room to store them up here prior to renovation, and the cost and logistical problems of storing down in the town prohibits their removal. So they sit here, 3500 years old, waiting for their turn at the hands of a mason who, in all likelihood, will use very similar tools to those of his distant relatives all those centuries ago.
The Knights' Hall and the Byzantine Chapel
Lindos, Rhodes, Greece
Attraction | "The Monumental Staircase, Stoa and Propylaea"
The first section of the staircase ascends from the lower courtyard, close to the Exedra, to the Stoa, a colonnaded avenue that stretches across almost the entire width of the site. This Doric construction is shaped around three sides of an elongated oblong and consists of two covered wings that flank the edges of the lower staircase. It is 86m long, and unity was achieved by a continuous row of 42 columns along the front of the stairway.
The Stoa was erected during the latter 3rd century BC, following the construction of the Temple and the Propylaea, and as such, completed the Hellenistic character of the sanctuary. During excavations, sections of walls and seven lower parts of columns were unearthed. Between 1936 and 1938, the Italians rebuilt 21 of the original columns and the terrace of the Propylaea was restored.
From the delights of the Stoa, the staircase then ascends by way of a wider cut to the Propylaea itself, where the stairs end. The Propylaea was built during the early 3rd century BC and was essentially a monumental gateway to the Temple of Athena Lindia. Again, it consisted of an outer, three-sided colonnade with projecting wings resembling small temples. Behind the central row of columns was the rear wall with five entrances leading into the inner temple courtyard. In Roman times, an Ionic colonnade was added to the south side of the courtyard, adjacent to the temple.
Excavations here too have revealed much of the foundations, with the Italians again, in the ‘30s, rebuilding much of the original masonry. Today, much work is ongoing, but the outline of the Stoa and Propylaea are clearly defined. The staircase has survived well over the millennia, with a relatively minor amount of restoration being required to return it to its "monumental" glory.
Monumental Staircase, Stoa and Propylaea
Lindos, Rhodes, Greece
Attraction | "The Temple of Athena Lindia"
It is a Doric structure of the "amphiprostyle" type and was built with local sandstone and plastered with stucco, as was every other building on the Acropolis. It measured 22m by 8m, and inside, it is still possible to see the spot where the goddess’ statue stood.
The rear of the temple has been restored almost fully with an opistodomus (rear room) and krepis (podium). A large section of the west wall and a smaller part of the eastern wall are also preserved much as they were.
In the 1930s, the Italians renovated both end colonnades and parts of the sidewalls. Restoration of the temple itself is painstakingly slow, given the care required not only for the work, but also to protect the throngs of summer tourists from the dangers of machinery and very large pieces of masonry. Work began in 2000 and is scheduled to be completed by 2008.
It is a beautiful structure, and although one can fully appreciate the need for sympathetic renovation, the temple is shrouded in scaffolding, cranes, and ramps, making it very difficult to find a vantage point from where to take an uncluttered picture. I just about succeeded in getting some shots of the columns, although at ground level, the ongoing work precludes a shot of any worthwhile merit.
I look forward to returning in Summer 2009, when hopefully I can do photographic justice to this most lovely of Hellenistic temples.
Temple of Athena Lindia
Lindos, Rhodes, Greece
It takes the form of a raised platform, about 4 feet higher than the surrounding courtyards, and was constructed of the same sandstone as the rest of the Acropolis. It dates, of course, to the Hellenistic period, and would probably have fallen into disuse and disrepair long before the Knights ever occupied the fortress here.
Close to the Exedra are the scant remains of a Roman Temple, all but vanished now. It’s likely that much of the stone was plundered by the Knights to refortify the stronghold after they succeeded the Byzantines as patrons of the Acropolis. Little is left to see, and if it hadn’t have been mentioned on our guide literature, we never would have known of its existence.
Finally, looking over the battlements close to the Roman temple, you will see several large circular covers in line, near the main entrance of the Acropolis. These are the cisterns that held a freshwater supply for the occupiers of the fortress. Being so high above sea level here meant that excavating wells was pointless (in all likelihood, any water found would have been contaminated by saline sea water anyway).
Freshwater would have been ferried up to the Acropolis by donkey and deposited into the cisterns, which were deep enough to keep the water cool and relatively fresh. The water would then have been manhandled out by way of hide or metal buckets.
Lindos Acropolis was one of the two major highlights of our wonderful holiday to Rhodes. Despite the late morning/early afternoon crowds, it is large enough that you don’t feel hemmed in by fellow visitors. The views are wonderful, the breezes welcome, and the atmosphere totally unforgettable. We shall return one day...
Cisterns, Battlements and the Exedra
Lindos, Rhodes, Greece
GB from Devizes
Devizes, United Kingdom