Discovering History in Rhodes… Ialysos and the Filerimos Hill

Filerimos Hill (Filerimos, in Greek Φιλέρημος), the  monastery of Our Lady, located  just outside the town of Rhodes (15km).  

The Filerimos Hill,   267 meter in  height.,  overlooking  the small town of Ialyssos and the bay of Ixia and Trianda.  You can enjoy the view of the Aegean Sea from the top, with turquoise waters near the shore and the deep blue as it stretches towards to coast of Asia Minor.

Thickly planned with cypresses, pines and other trees, it is an ideal location for a long walk into the Rhodian nature. The footway leads you to the top of the hill with an enormous imposing cross, from the top of the cross you can cherish the outstanding view of the villages and bright green valleys that are generously stretched around.  

A noteworthy archeological site; which once upon a time stood the Acropolis of the ancient town of Ialysos with an historical temple dedicated to Athena Polias.

LET’S TAKE A CLOSER LOOK AT THE HISTORY!

When Christianity first grew its roots in Greece (before spreading in the world), many of the ancient cult sanctuaries were transformed into churches. At that time the temple was converted into an early Christian three-aisled basilica dedicated to Virgin Mary (Panagià, Παναγιά). 

The church is well known for housing the icon of the Virgin of Filerimos.  Attributed to St. Luke the Evangelist, the icon was brought in to Rhodes during the 13th century, probably from Jerusalem where it remained until 1523.

 

 

Under the rule of the Knights of St. John a Monastery was built, surrounded by cloisters and cells and a number of chapels. When the island came into the possession of the Ottoman Turks, the icon was taken by the Knights to France and from there to Italy, Malta and Russia, where it stayed until the 1917 revolution.  Since 2002 it has been kept in the “Blue Chapel of the National Museum of Montenegro”.

The Monastery was destroyed by the Turks. In 1876, various excavations brought into light a Mycenaean pottery, a Doric foundation and the ruins of the Hellenistic temple of Athena Polias. In the ’20s, during the Italian occupation, in the effort to consolidate and justify the Italian presence on the island, a major reconstruction was carried out. 

They added a Via Crucis (Calvary), a pathway that leads from the monastery towards the south-western edge of the plateau, to a small square with a stunning view dominated by the Mt. Attavyros in the distance.  Here an imposing iron Cross stood in the middle. Along the right side of the path, stone altars were built with embedded reliefs, depicting scenes of the Passions of Jesus. 

They even brought a congregation of Capuchin monks but no particular care was taken for the Hellenistic and Byzantine relics.

Today the Monastery remains almost unchanged.  A long stair from the entrance leads up an avenue of cypresses and bougainvillea to the cloister and the foundations of the temple. 

The Early Christian basilica, and the small subterranean Byzantine church are open to the visitors. It is the preferred place by the Rhodians for wedding ceremonies. Stunted pastel cedars form now an archway in Via Crucis, leading to the belvedere where a few years ago a gigantesque Cross made of concrete was erected.

After experiencing the wonderful site of the Filermos Hill, refreshments & snacks are available at the entrance surrounded by the entertaining colorful “Peacocks” roaming around.