Rhodes Dodecanese Guide Page 15

quite a view from MonolithosThe most important village in the region to the north is Monolithos (monolith means 'single stone' in Greek), the stone here being a 700 foot crag rising out of the sea, 2km west of the town, with a castle on top,(left) built by the Grand Master d'Aubusson. Within it a stairway spirals to the top along with the 15th century chapel of Aghios Yiorghios, the latter with some frescoes. Views are magnificent and include the islands of Alimnia and Halki , and can be enjoyed also from a couple of tavernas up there. 5km of winding (though paved) road below the castle is is the bay of Fourni, with shaded sand and gravel beaches , though swimmers must beware the strong currents. Around the headland are early Christian cave dwellings. The town itself offers little except some rooms and the views of the bay below from the tavernas.

Siana is the next town on the road after Monolithos, built below the summit of Mt Akramytis, (825 meters/2706 feet), which is Rhodes second highest mountain. It is a very appealing village with stone houses ,some with clay roofs, built on a hillside. There are wonderful coastal views from this town (and views of islets as well). It is known for its delicious wild pine and sage honey and for its 'suma' (a local spirit similar to raki or tsipouro-both in turn similar to Italian grappa). Both the honey and suma can be sampled in the local village kafeneia. Take a look inside the beautiful church of Aghios Panteleimon with its restored 18th century frescoes while in this village. Mt Akramytis has been proposed (along with Mt. Atavyros, Rhodes highest peak-see below) as a nature reserve since 1994 by the local Association for the Protection of the Environment. The road approaching it from the north (from Kritinia) passes through dense forest on its lower slopes.

Embonas is famous for its tobacco, wine, olives, dancing and festivals, with some of the best paneyiria (saints' day festivals) on the island. Though some of the older folk still wear traditional costume, the reputation as a traditional village has made the folklore a bit self-conscious, with busloads of tourists headed that way to see it 'presented'. The wine cooperative CAIR is here, as well as Emery Winery, founded by a local family during the 1920s. The tasting room of the latter is open Monday to Friday until 3pm. They have a good red wine with the name Cava (which usually means wine cellar or liquor store) with 12.5% alcohol, made from a local grape call mandilari or amorgyiani, but it is their white 'Villare' which has given them fame, the latter made from an indigenous grape called athiri, which grows at 700meters altitude on the slopes of Mt Atavyros, the island's highest peak (1215meters/almost 3000 feet). This mountain can be climbed (if you are very hardy) in three hours from Embonas, but is not an easy climb in any case. A temple of Zeus Atavros was built there but not much remains. Aghios Isidoros is up here, with vineyards and tavernas, and is less touristic than Embonas.

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