Remember when Dorothy woke up in the world of Oz after being whisked away from her Kansas by a tornado? Well, to say that visiting Koskinou, on the Greek island of Rhodes, is similar would be an understatement. This gorgeous village is a photographer’s dream and as the second most photographed place in Greece (after Lindos) it graces the pages of multiple coffee table books, making it a strong contender on many a traveller’s bucket list.
Although becoming more popular now, this hilltop hamlet, located just 7km from the island’s capital, is the epitome of a hidden gem. Surrounded by modern residential areas, the place at first may seem nondescript, but as you make your way down the winding streets that lead you into the preserved part of the ancient town, you’ll find yourself in a maze of buildings brought to life by their vivid colour. Like Dorothy, you’ll feel as though you’ve entered another world.
A World of Colour
Neoclassical houses painted in every colour of the rainbow line the narrow cobbled paths, which all lead to the central square – the beating heart of the community. Although you could spend hours admiring every aspect of these homes, my favourite feature has to be the doors. Each one is unique and you can create a beautiful collection of snapshots of the entrances; trying to pick the best is nearly impossible!
These magnificent entrances are made out of beautifully carved stone arches, each one holding a heavy wooden door. Many of these magical portals take you into a courtyard straight out of a storybook. These spaces are often filled with Mediterranean flowers, jasmine trees and fuchsia bougainvillea, all of which fill the air with their gorgeous fragrance. Koskinou really is a treat for all the senses!
The Past with a Pulse
Despite the modern development in the surrounding environs, the quirky town has ancient roots. This small settlement is one of the oldest on the island, and preserved Byzantine coins and other artefacts suggest that it was established well before the 15th century. As you wander around, you’ll find traces of the past in every corner.
Although the vibrant facades appear brand new with their fresh coats of paint, the traditional houses of Koskinou are formed out of centuries-old traditions. Both the floors inside and outside these homes are usually covered with black and white pebble mosaics, decorated with Rhodian motifs called hohlaki. They contrast beautifully against the lively colours. If you go inside one of these traditional houses, you’ll find the walls covered in ornately painted ceramic dishes and hand-woven textile hangings.
A Taste of Tradition
You can’t leave without tasting the traditional sweet treat that is only found in this location. Melekouni is a delectable creation made from honey and sesame seeds, which has been prepared by the local women for centuries. Traditionally, the sugary patty would be kneaded to the rhythm of old folk songs on the eve of major festivals. Treat yourself at one of the local patisseries.
More than Just a Pretty Picture
While the colourful buildings guarantee a great photograph, there are a number of other attractions in the village that are worth a visit. To truly step back in time, a short visit to the 200-year-old church of Aghia Irini is a n excellent option. There are also a few temples to choose from, such as the tiny early 4th century Christian Basilica temple, Aghios Lukas, or in contrast, the church of the Virgin Mary, the largest in the village. To capture that perfect ‘wish you were here’ shot, and for some spectacular ocean views, make your way to the abandoned Knights’ castle on the outskirts of the community.
A combination of world-renowned architecture and ancient history, Kalithea Springs is one of the most distinctive landmarks on the island. The area has been renowned for its thermal therapeutic springs since antiquity, but it was only in the late twenties that the Thermal Spa Institution was established. The famous architect Pietro Lombardi was commissioned to create the distinguished buildings that remain today. He took inspiration from a number of architectural styles, from Arabic to Baroque, rendering the monument to be one of the most exemplary architectural creations of the 1930s.
Although the spa itself is no longer in operation, it’s still a lovely place to visit. The magnificent buildings, surrounded by palms and pine trees, have been converted into a lovely cafe so you can enjoy your lunch in stunning surroundings.
Top Tip: The springs are easily accessible by public transport from Rhodes’ town centre – you can even get there by boat! There are several that depart from Mandraki harbour along a very scenic route.
Where to Stay
Louloudi Traditional House: This rustic holiday home, which is only 4.4 miles from Rhodes Town, allows guests to experience authentic Koskinou living with the comfort of modern day amenities. As well as having your own private room, there’s a shared kitchen (fully equipped), TV room and patio. It’s a lovely place to stay and mingle with fellow travellers.
Cliff House: This distinctive home is beautifully decorated and all three rooms are accented with stone details and gorgeous fireplaces. The residence is complete with a shared living room, kitchen and dining table. There’s also a barbecue so you can get to know other guests over a delicious al-fresco meal.
Levanda House: The bright interiors of Levanda House provide a cool refuge from the Mediterranean sun. It features two comfortable bedrooms with one shared bathroom, a living room, dining room and kitchen. The highlight has to be the private garden and restaurant attached to the building. For those who want to go further afield, the property owners can easily arrange a rental car at your convenience.
How to Get There
Getting you and your camera to this photogenic destination is easy and it’s just a short four-hour flight from the UK. There are eight different airlines that offer a total of 32 flights per week to Rhodes International Airport, including some great budget options.
If you’re staying in Koskinou village, pre-booking an airport transfer with Shuttle Direct is the most hassle-free way to ensure you get to your accommodation. One of their knowledgeable drivers will be able to get you to the door of your destination in just over 30 minutes.
About Shuttle Direct
Shuttle Direct provides hassle-free pre-bookable airport transfers throughout Europe and North Africa, making it easier for travellers to get in the holiday mood the minute they step off the plane. With an efficient, friendly service, Shuttle Direct has become the leading provider in the industry, meaning you have one less decision to make when it comes to planning your perfect summer getaway.