There’s a lot more to Lindos than a trip to the Acropolis and swim in the bay. 41km south of Rhodes town, most tourists visit on day trips by car or coach and miss out on how beautiful it is in the evening.
Every year on Father’s day the village of Lindos holds a medieval festival. In previous years I’ve missed the adverts in the Greek press and only seen the amazing pictures on social media afterwards. This year I was reminded by a good friend so we organised a girls night out. We set off early evening and parked at the lower car-park at St Paul’s bay. Walking up to the ancient theatre we could hear the low hum of voices and music in the distance.
I took the proper camera with me to practice using it at night for the first time. In the past, it’s always been my husband with the camera and me with a phone. I wasn’t really sure what to expect from the evening other than a procession, people in costume and horses.
As we entered the amphitheatre a stage had been set up. Behind the stage was the ancient theatre tiers, above those the castle walls and then at the very top the Acropolis. The new theatre steps were already full of families waiting for the entertainment to begin.
Along the sides were stalls selling food and drinks and displaying skills from the past. With lots of straw on the ground and people in costume, it had a wonderful festive atmosphere of anticipation.
Why a medieval festival?
These islands are steeped in history. When most people think of Greece, they either think of ancient Greece with columns or the little white houses and sandy beaches. Medieval doesn’t instantly come to mind for many.
Rhodes was occupied by the Knights of St John of Jerusalem, also known as the Hospitallers, they arrived in 1309 fleeing Palestine and the Sultans. They settled and fortified much of the island, over 200 years they built castles and a medieval city. Before losing to the Ottomans and fleeing to Malta in 1522.
In Lindos, the castle was built around the old acropolis. Visitors today walk through the old castle walls and underneath the coat of arms of the knights to reach the acropolis and views above. There are still two towers of the old castle standing as well as the surrounding wall, at night the walls are lit up and are a backdrop to many romantic rooftop meals.
Explore the village
Entering the winding alley ways between the white houses of Lindos we found torches in the walls and more straw on the floor. Being extra careful as the smooth old stone walkways had become extra slippery with the straw we headed towards the main square.
On the way we were greeted by people in medieval costume, children running through the streets dressed as jesters and knaves, men and women in the tavernas all dressed and acted the part. It felt like the whole town was out in medieval mood.
Once we reached the square we found there were stilt walkers and jugglers entertaining the crowd, with more in costume around the area.
As the sun finally set the procession to the amphitheatre began and we followed. The narrow alleys filled with the crowd, being led by jesters and musicians. We ran ahead finding a vantage point on a raised step to actually see what was going on.
Entertainers on stilts had to duck to get through in places, as the procession continued past shops and restaurants everyone came out to look. At the church, they were joined by the children of the village, all in costume.
Our only disappointment, from seeing pictures in the past, there were no men on horseback. Though, with the crowds of families and children filling the narrow streets, I don’t think it would have been very safe.
Back at the amphitheatre the entertainment then began on the main stage. There was a performance by the medieval group that had paraded through the streets, some of whom were local people from Lindos.
Then followed a succession of the best quality entertainment I’ve ever seen on this island.
Next on stage was an opera tenor and composer Masis Arakelian he had a powerful voice and commanding stage presence. With no idea what to expect from the evening we were all amazed and the quality of the performance in front of us. Originally from Iran of Armenian parents he is classically trained and based in Germany.
He was accompanied by two local girls on piano Vivianne Apostolou and Matina Makesta and on voila was Anna Sorokina a Russian based in the U.S.
There was a comedy sketch performed in Greek but understandable in any language. Organisers did have a very good English translator for the Greek announcements though they didn’t always give her a chance to speak or finish her translations. The idea was to showcase Greek entertainment through the ages.
Then came a dance troupe called Kinisis from Athens, definitely a step above the local children’s groups we usually see at festivals on the island. This short video I took on my mobile will give you an idea of the atmosphere. I’ve not been able to find a website or link to them if you know of one let me know and I’ll add it here.
Then came the headline act of the evening, Electric violin group Fortissimo from Thessaloniki. They performed to classical music then moved on to Abba and more. At this point, we got very excited and went live by mistake on Facebook! The video is now on youtube it’s rather long but we did have fun and it gives you an idea of the atmosphere, you can find it here.
Most of the local children that attended were dressed up in medieval costumes, many were sitting on the edge of the stage fully enjoying the music and entertainment. Their faces when the fire eaters and acrobats were on was wonderful.
Meanwhile, parents could relax and watch from a distance with a glass of cool local wine or beer. Around us, people were dancing, eating souvlaki (pork meat grilled on sticks) and loukoumades (Greek doughnut balls with honey syrup). As with all festivals on the island, the gypsies were there selling balloons, bubble blowing guns and toys.
As a bonus for a small deposit, the wine came in ceramic cups that you could keep as a souvenir, something I’ve only come across at German Christmas markets before.
A few announcements and thanks to the organisers started and as it was late we decided to head back. We stopped at the 404 bar for a couple of his amazing mojitos and for the first time I snacked on the staple of a late night in Lindos, a crepe. Sensibly leaving the car behind at St Paul’s bay, we got a taxi from the main square back to the village.
We later found out that after we left all the singers and dancers came on for another set each. It’s a shame we missed it but I’m looking forward to seeing what happens next year. Fathers Day Sunday 17th June 2018 book your trip now. Entrance fee = Free.
I’ve always been more into rock than classical. Lindos rock stopped just before we arrived on the island. This though was something else, original entertainment from very talented people. The evening didn’t go without a hitch, this is, after all, Greece, a power surge, loud bang and black out at one point did send many people home or give parents an excuse to get some children to bed. But those that stayed were rewarded with an amazing evening.
The English translator for the evening was a good friend of ours Katerina Koliais, who also helped to get me the details of the acts for the evening.
The jugglers and dancers were all from Athens and Thessaloniki and part of Vasilis Katerinopoulos’ performing group. Vasilis was the director of the whole program for the evening, he produces and directs festivals throughout Greece and is a documentary maker for national television in Greece.
Have you been to the medieval night in Lindos or are you planning on going? If you found this post interesting and useful please comment and share. Thank you.