I embarked on my journey to Mediterranean Blue, a television series that showcases the beauty, people traditions, culture, and cuisine of magical Greece, the name of which is attributed to the special deep-blue and turquoise color of the Mediterranean Sea. I am proud to announce that this new series will be airing on PBS this fall, as well as on New Greek TV, the Greek channel of the U.S. and Canada, in the spring of 2017.
The producer-director, George Stamou, our director of photography, John Stathopoulos, and myself, were very excited and couldn’t wait to get started! Our first filming destination in Greece was the islands of the Dodecanese, located in the southeastern region of the Aegean. The show’s concept was illustrated through the view of a sailboat, which was used to better capture the essence and beauty of each island’s distinct character.
The cosmopolitan island of Rhodes was our first stop. Rhodes has been a vacation “hot spot” since the 1950s. Many of the world’s re-known celebrities have visited this jet-setting travel destination, and many producers have filmed movies on this island. Famous actor, Anthony Quinn, loved this island so much that he purchased property there and one of its beaches was named after him.
As we approached the famous port of Rhodes, we passed its historic pillars, which once held one of the Seven Wonders of the World, the legendary Colossus of Rhodes, a depiction of the ancient Greek Titan-God Helios, which was erected in 280 B.C. The backdrop of the city harmoniously combined the ancient, medieval, Byzantine, and Hellenistic eras of its history, through its imposing medieval wall, palm trees, and architecture. Rhodes was historically a wealthy island, agriculturally abundant, a major trading center, and was often visited by famous men and rulers, including Alexander the Great.
Rhodes has one of the most well preserved medieval castles in Europe dating back to the 7th century, the Palace of the Grand Master, or the Kastello. Once a Byzantine citadel, it became a fortress for the crusading Knights of St. John. Due to this castle’s medieval and port-Byzantine historical and architectural importance, it has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
When walking the streets of historic Rhodes, one can almost go back in time, back to when the medieval knights and maidens roamed its streets. As you examine every detail and corner of this historic city, there is a romantic feeling about the place, which can ignite one’s soul to further search more into its history. A visit to the nearby Archeological Museum is encouraged to enhance this.
The Acropolis of Rhodes dates back to Greece’s classical period. Its remains include the Temple of Apollo, Athena Polias and Zeus Polias, a stadium, a small theater, the Odeon, remains of the the Stoa building, the Nymphaeum Caves, and the Artemision.
The historic homes of Rhodes have been renovated and preserved to keep their original architecture and enchanting medieval character, until you venture outside the castle’s walls, where you will find yourself in the modern city of Rhodes. This part is a busy cosmopolitan city that resembles a smaller version of Athens, as Rhodes is the capital of all the islands of the Dodecanese.
We enjoyed a traditional Rhodian dinner, a cup of coffee and delicious local deserts at Koukos, a restaurant and cafe that have kept its traditional architecture and design, to enhance its visitors’ experience of customary Rhodes. Rhodes boasts dozens of 5-star hotels and resorts, offering the best services and promising a luxurious stay with all the amenities one can enjoy.
The island is so big, and has so much for one to see and do, that you will need a few days to really explore it. There are many villages, historical churches, ancient sites, museums, a rain forest filled with butterflies, and a vast array of beaches to choose from that offer many water and land activities, such as scuba diving, jet skiing, horseback riding, hiking, and many more!
We sailed south of the island to the ancient city of Lindos, a magical place with another enchanting village, beautiful beaches, and a well-intact ancient acropolis containing the Doric Temple of Athena, the Propylaea, Hellenistic Stoa, the famous relief of a Rhodian warship, Roman temple remains dating back to the Emperor Diocletian, and a Greek-Orthodox Byzantine church, the Church of St. John.
After enjoying a day of scuba diving and swimming underneath the ancient acropolis, we learned about a new recipe by local known chef, Demetri of Demetri’s Restaurant, overlooking the sea and the acropolis, which has been serving traditional Rhodian food for 70 years! It was fantastic!
Rhodes was a great start to our Mediterranean Blue Adventure and there was so much more to see, however, we had to head out in order to discover the rest of the wondrous islands that were awaiting us. The crew, George, John, Dionysis, Myrto, and myself, jumped on our sailboat with its seasoned captain, Captain Chris, along with his first mate, Pantellis, and we were off to the neighboring island of Tilos!