Greek Islands at a Glance Page Eleven

The Dodecanese Islands

the dodecaneseHugging the coast of Asia-minor or ancient Ionia, the Dodecanese, much like the Cyclades, have something for everyone.

Only just a bit further away and with a twist or two thrown in.

Despite having 16 inhabited islands, this group is known by the sobriquet of 'the 12 island group' or Dodeca-nissa.

In general transportation is good between the Dodecanese Islands with Rhodes and Kos having its 2 airports.

Rhodes and Kos are also the only islands of the group with any appreciable greenery.

So consequently are two of the most popular islands attracting package tourists and those seeking upscale resorts.

the asklipion of KosLong sandy beaches and plenty of historical attractions in the form of castles and temples have convinced many to begin their 12 islands tour with one or the other by air. Patmos and Astypalaea are the points where you may jump the island group barrier and enter the Cyclades or vice versa by ship. The beauty of ferry travel is that you will pass by many other islands and even pull into port at some on your way to your final destination. You also get to meet people on board the slower boats.

In light of the fact that the Dodecanese were occupied by the Italians until 1948, the barrenness of the other 14 islands somehow makes them all that much more precious.

Particularly so, as you discover traces of Itallianate influence and older marks left by the Knights of St. John and Ottomans. These islands, with the exception of Patmos also have lower prices and wonderful beaches.

the monastery of Patmos is like a fortressPatmos, home to the Monastery of St. John and northern most of the Dodecanese ranks third in 'popularity' and is officially known as the 'Holy isle'.

This ex-bastion of Byzantine religious power is reputed to be where Greek born, St. John (Aghios Ioannis), penned the Book of Revelations. (Actually he dictated it to his pupil Prochoros in 95 AD and its never been proven that he wrote it on Patmos).

a honey waitng on the slow ferry from rhodesThe fortress/monastery founded (1088) in his name, by the monk Christoferos Latrenos, holds pride of place and casts a beatific shadow on all and sundry.

The monastery houses the second most important collection of Byzantine works in Greece after Mt. Athos including, besides the usual priceless icons and jewelry, a library with over 2,000 manuscripts and 33 leaves of the Codex Porphyrius - The Gospel according to St. Mark.

But "Holy" as it officially is, Patmos is not a quiet island and 'Papa don't preach here no mo', or if he does no one is listening and if its peace you seek, you'd do far better to try Kassos, Leros, Kalymnos or Tilos.

Icons are venerated  in Greece - but would Jesus overturn the tables of the temple money lenders today? I wish he would, credit card interest rates are 18%Oddly enough the most Cycladic looking island of the Dodecanese is Astypalaea with its enchanting cubistic mountain Hora. This just illustrates how arbitrary these island group names really are and how individualistic each island can be.

The Greek islands are homogeneous culturally and religiously no matter what label you give them. That's what makes them Greek. That's what makes Cyprus Greek. Still a little Italian here and there may be a good thing. Costanza, please pass the parmesan.

Rhodes has many Castles - see the guide!For more of a balanced mix between tradition, remoteness and comfort Lipsi, Chalk, Karpathos and Nissyros  are all possibilities. The well heeled, admire Symi as the many yachts which linger off its shore testify. From Rhodes boats (and flights) go to Crete and Turkey.

The more variables you put into an island hopping equation the less sure the result so if you have limited time and confirmed flight outbound from Greece make sure you can catch it. Allow two extra days to ferry home from Rhodes (18hrs or more depending on the boat). The winds could delay your departure. It happens every summer at least once. In such circumstances, I recommend flying back to Athens from Rhodes or Kos after touring the Dodecanese by ferry.

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More Greek Islands at a Glance: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16