If you want to escape from the heat of summer head into the hills and you can explore a bit of modern history. Well, modern by Greek standards! There’s no tour guide, no signposts or heritage signs. This is a piece of modern history tucked away in the mountains of Rhodes.
There are several different routes into the hills, the simplest is to take the turning off the main road at Kolymbia going past Seven Springs. Both places that are a part of the same history, the remnants of Italian Rhodes and I’ll post about them another time.
If you’re visiting the island in winter the village taverna is still open.
This part of Italian Rhodes has been abandoned for many years and now it’s up for sale as a part of the Greek privatisation fund.
In a square above today’s village Eleousa stands the centre of the original purpose built Italian village. Called Compochiaro it was built between 1935 and 1936. It was part of the agricultural development of the island and settled by Italians from rural areas who had knowledge of forestry.
At one end of the square raised high above the road is the church, originally Roman Catholic and now Greek Orthodox.
Walking up to the church you can look at the whole square. The village was built around 1935 to house around 100 Italian settlers who were brought in to manage the forests in the area. You can spot abandoned Italian buildings in the land surrounding the village.
Opposite the church stands a building known as the old Sanatorium. It was used for the quarantine and treatment of Tuberculosis from 1947 to 1970 there’s even a geocaching treasure here. Walking around this building it definitely has a really spooky feel to it. The rooms feel more like jail cells than hospital wards and watch out for the occasional pigeon. I can’t imagine what a future developer would turn it into?
To your left are the archways of the old market place, a fascinating building to explore, I think it would make a wonderful boutique hotel. Upstairs you can still make out the wall paper and paint. Within the square there would have been a cinema I wonder which one it was in?
Finally to your right, painted white, is the old police station. Part of the building is currently being used a school.
As you head out of the square between the church and old marketplace you can turn right into the current village of Elousa. There you will find a small square with a couple of tavernas and village shop. We’ve only eaton in one of the Tavernas but I’m sure they’ll both have a selection of local food.
Alternatively continue up the hill for a few hundred metres and you’ll reach the Italian fountain.
Built at the same time as the village it looked very green but there were some very large fish swimming around. The smaller fish are said to be the Gizani freshwater fish an endangered European fish. The fountain and pond were built as a part of an irrigation and hydroelectric power system.
Opposite the fountain where there’s parking space you can spot a wooden sign attached to 2 trees. This sign is the entrance to a pathway and at Christmas it leads to a live nativity scene created by the villagers each year.
This old picture of Compochiario now hanging in the Elafos hotel further up the hill from Eleousa where there is a hidden gem, but that’s another post.
Eventually these buildings will be sold off to developers, it will be good to see them use again. Though I wonder if the sense of history that it holds now will be lost.
This is an old film of Rhodes mainly narrated in Italian, from 8.50 you can see how Compochiario used looked before WWII.
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