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A Greek goddess claimed it first and now is willing to share


The Greek island of Rhodes in the Dodecanese Islands of Greece was renowed for its devotion to the early sun god Helios, whose statue is said to have once spanned the entire opening of the island's ancient harbor. It was known as the "Colossus of Rhodes" and dominated that end of the island. But at Lindos, it was the goddess Athena whose temple crowned a dramatic cliff watching over the sealanes and natural harbor below.

Lindos is a protected village, which means that all development has to be approved. While some Lindians chafe under the restructions, it has preserved the beauty of the village and its environs. That doesn't mean that you won't find plenty of tourist shopes, tavernas, and other "necessities", but it has kept building sightlines clean and low and has prevented the kind of resort-row desert which dominates much of the seaside of Rhodes.

Cars are also prohibited inside the village itself, making it a haven for pedestrians - though, as I learned, the vivid deep grey and white choklakia paving made of small well-worn pebbles can be tricky to walk on in the rain. Supposedly, it was originally a way of keeping pirates from getting their footing in the town.

Since Lindos was important to shipping, throughout its history it has housed captains, ship owners, and wealthy merchants. Some of their houses from more recent periods still line the streets and a few have been transformed into bed-and-breakfasts or restaurants.

In ancient times, Lindos was important because of its location overlooking its harbor. The harbor at Rhodes City is an artificial construction dating to later times, so for millennia the harbor at Lindos offered the best protection for ships. Lindos and its harbor dominated its half of the island and was strong enough to send out a colony which settled at Gela in Sicily. The name derives from the original goddess of the area, but in about the 7th century b.c.e. the ruler of Lindos, Cleobolus, built a temple to Athena Lindos on the high cliffs which rise about 380 feet from the sea. This was not apparently the original site of her worship - the irregular positioning of the temple is believed to have been chosen so it is over a sacred spot in a cave far below. The cave can still be seen but is not easily visitable.

The Acropolis of Lindos can be reached by walking up the hill, which will take the visitor past an interesting large-scale carving of a trireme picked out of the living rock. Higher up, ou'll pass through the remains of the castle of the Knights of St. John, who ruled over the island in the 1400s. Then you'll leave the medieval period and return to ancient times at the broad ceremonial staircase leading to the ruins of the small temple to Athena Lindia. From there, you can also peek into religious history by looking down at the small beach which is said to be where St. Paul landed on his journey through this area.

Getting to Lindos

Lindos can be reached by taxi or bus from Rhodes City. Many visitors to Rhodes arrive by cruise ship at the port of Rhodes City, and they often are offered a choice between a visit to the fascinating medieval Old City or a longer trip including Lindos and, usually, a forced stop at a pottery factory. If time permits, a shore excursion combining both may be available, and that is the best of both worlds.

Diagoras International Airport, Rhodes - This small airport is easy to navigate but has many international flights during the summer months.
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