If you want to escape the beach, or find somewhere off the beaten track to visit on Rhodes. This is as far from the crowds as you can get. Up the highest peak on Rhodes you’ll join the clouds and find an ancient Temple.
Visible in the distance from our village, Mount Attavyros rises to 1,215 meters. Occasionally in winter there’s snow on the peak though it rarely lasts more than a day.
We’ve been wanting to explore up there for a while and decided on a whim to head off on Friday and see how far we could get to the top with our fiat panda.
We had a bottle of water in the car, unsuitable shoes (flip flops), a camera, mobile phone and Apollo our German Shepherd. The weather was sunny with a cool wind blowing very hard across the island. What could go wrong?
First we needed to find the road up to Attavyros. We have a really good map of the island but had left in in the house. We were driving south from Siana and had turned to Embona, on a bend where there was a kiosk selling olive oil and sums we saw the turning sign posted Attavyros and Wind Farm.
The road isn’t on google maps and you can’t make out much of it on google earth either. Here’s a picture of our map and the road indicated between the two red arrows.
The first third of the road is tarmac and not a bad surface. Initially it goes up a very windy route with sheer drops below on the passenger side. But there’s metal railings and a sense that the road is well kept. It then levels off a little and you enter a wooded area. Here we saw a few goats and a couple of other cars heading back down.
Once you leave the tree line the tarmac road also finishes. Now it’s a dirt track for about another 1/3rd of the way. It’s obviously well used but also in need of repair in places. There were a couple of times we questioned our sanity and wondered in the car would make it. The view on the way was stunning though and we kept going.
As we reached the entrance to the wind farm the road was tarmac once more. Narrow but reasonably maintained. So far we’d met no other vehicles and only seen a couple of goats.
The landscape is covered in rocks and shards of rocks, inhospitable but surprisingly green, with the odd tree holding on against the wind. There’s signs of farming in a few places. Though you’d have to be very hardy to work in the winds up there.
The road winds around and on the left hand side was a low concrete wall topped with a metal fence. Parts of the fence had fallen off in places.
Then we came to a barrier and warning signs for the listening post. Just before the barrier is an entrance through the wall to the Temple of Zeus. The whole area has been fenced off though the entrance is open and without a gate. The only company was a herd of goats and some sheep.
The views really are astounding up there. Looking out across most of the island. Though with the high winds taking pictures was an interesting exercise.
We then went for a wander around the temple. There are no signs, no explanations and no barriers. You can freely wander around the site.
This is the point at which we should have had better shoes on. The ground has been cleared for a couple of paths but they were covered in small loose rocks that weren’t ideal for steep slopes.
All the images from the top were taken by D with a Nikon D3300 and they are much better than the phone would have managed with these distances.
I was more than happy to simply enjoy the atmosphere and take it all in.
There was something very special about being up there. The light was amazing with clouds rushing by overhead. They were being formed where we stood by the cold air coming up the northwest side of the mountain. Then sweeping off to the southeast and melting away.
According to Greek mythology the temple is believed to have been built by Althaemenes as a it was the place on the island closest to the Gods and allegedly the only place he could see his home of Crete from. You can find out more about him here.
It dates from the Mycenaean period and I found one legend that talks of human sacrifices on a bronze altar in the shape of a bull with priests and oracles. We’ll have to stop and talk to the villagers in Embona sometime and see if they know more.
taken just below the top, it felt like we were in the clouds
We still had the journey back to make and on the way down did encounter two vehicles coming up. One a large military style vehicle that was more than capable of heading off road to let us stay on the tarmac. The other vehicle we met on the dirt road and luckily where it was just wide enough for us to pass each other.
Once back down we headed to Embona for a very welcome coffee and meze. It was strange to think there was still a long way down to go before we got back home, yet it did feel like we were on solid ground once more.
If you’re one for a challenge there is a main hiking trail on the map that goes form Agios Isidhoros. I imagine there’s also a hike from Embona. I couldn’t find much information about it in English on line. If you find out more let me know?
Update 1st August 2017: A reader tried to go up the rough road with a Fiat Panda hire car but the vehicle wasn’t quite up to it and kept breaking down. If you are here on holiday and hiring a vehicle make sure your insurance covers you off road. During the winter months rainfall can change the dirt roads completely to make sure you can get to the top I recommend a small 4 wheel drive.
Have you been up to the top or are you planning on going? If you enjoyed this post and found it useful please share and leave a comment below. Thank you