A traveller who visits the Greek island of Rhodes, tells us the story of Europe’s most highly inhabited ancient city.

Almost forty years have passed since I first set eyes upon her. My television screen lit up with images of exquisiteness like none I had ever seen before. There, on the imposing staircase of the Palace of the Grand Masters of the Knights of St. John, stood 22 European beauties, all vying for the title of the most beautiful (Miss Europe 1976), all paling in comparison to their stunning host.

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Bathed in light, she was once called Helias after the sun god Helios, then Asteria for her starry skies. Makaria was yet another name given her, then Pelagia. She emerged from the depths of the Mediterranean Sea surrounding her and finally became known as Rhodes, a name that resounded through time to the far reaches of the world, an island whose magnificence instantaneously captivated me.

Greece, Turkey and Italy; ancient, medieval, contemporary; all imprinted on her buildings, roads and monuments, a detailed record of a rich history scattered across the island in a glorious merging of manmade and natural beauty.

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I set off on my journey of rediscovery in Europe’s largest inhabited medieval city, its architectural mosaic laid out before me to guide my steps. Ancient remains, byzantine churches, gothic basilicas, mosques and synagogues, all protected behind remarkably intact fortification walls, standing with stalwart vibrancy next to modern shops and restaurants.

I come up to the Palace of the Grand Masters, a fairy tale castle majestic in its timeless beauty, just as it must have been when at the service of the Knights of St. John, who had made Rhodes their base.

I let myself be seduced by the whispers of a bygone era while strolling among the unique collection of medieval and Belle-époque buildings centered around Mandraki, the heart of the historic town center. I climbed up to the town’s acropolis with its remains of the temple of Apollo and let my gaze fall upon the city from up high, then out across the sea to the coastline of neighboring Turkey.

I had my photo taken with gorgeous Lindos as a backdrop, arguably the Aegean’s most photographed spot, with its whitewashed houses and crystalline water. And from its quaint charms, I ventured on to cosmopolitan Kallithea and its famed therapeutic waters, a stretch of coastline favored by Hollywood directors for dozens of cinematic productions.

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Enthralled by the manmade creations I had seen, I was next drawn to those sculpted by nature herself, to the protected valley of the butterflies and its millions of fluttering inhabitants covering trees and rocks, nooks and crannies, and then on to Mount Philerimos and its dense pinewood forest and sweeping island views. And shortly before returning to the imposing yet cozy and welcoming Sheraton Rhodes, I filled my being with a final breath of history in Ancient Kamiros, one of Greece’s best-preserved ancient cities, and walked in the footsteps of Homer’s Iliad.

Since I met her, I return again and again, unable to resist her allure. I surrendered myself to her years ago, and have never once regretted that decision. Seductress, I call her. Whoever has given in to her knows that there is but one destination: Rhodes.