Saturday, 21 November 2015

My Life in Ruins

A couple of years ago, work commenced on the site of a proposed new hotel right behind the beach in Kiotari, down south, almost at Gennadi, but not quite. There have been a couple of new hotels built and opened in the north of Kiotari in the last few years, producing mixed feelings in the minds of those who don't like to see yet more open countryside swallowed up by asphalt and concrete.

It's a double-edge sword this whole "development" thing isn't it. I mean, on the one hand the environment is disappearing but, on the other, more employment is welcome by one and all and an injection of capital through the spin-off trade that comes to the local businesses can also not be overlooked.

One has to, though, sometimes question the speed at which some local affluent types want to bulldoze tracts of land that support a diversity of wildlife. The old "Fakelaki[brown envelope] mentality is still alive and well if you believe what you hear when placing your ear to the ground. We have a friend who lives in rather lovely bungalow along the coast a way from our place, not more than 100 metres back from the beach. It's a place that puts me in mind of the kind of house you'd expect to find in the African bush, with a porch and canopy running round three sides, the wooden uprights of which are covered by climbing plants like jasmine and bougainvillea. The grounds are full of well developed plant life, lending that colonial feel to the place. It's very peaceful there. 

The owner, she's a single woman of a certain age, found herself in the unpleasant position of having to look around for somewhere else to live when the proposed hotel, which would occupy all of the ground between her place and the beach, threatened to ruin her little retreat irrevocably. She even found herself under pressure from the developer, who wanted to force a purchase of her place so that her land could be absorbed into that of the proposed hotel complex. It apparently had something to do with the proposed vehicle access to the nearest road.

The development would have been massive and most certainly would have changed the face of the two or three kilometre-long beach of Kiotari Bay, which at present is gloriously quiet, even in the peak summer season. There are a few beach tavernas dotted along the bay, plus numerous small sandy lanes, leading down past sporadically spaced villas, all of which empty out on to the primarily sandy beach. It's still the kind of place where one can pass a very laid-back vacation. The only hotel anywhere near the beach is the newly refurbished and re-named Med Blue at Gennadi, which is modestly sized anyway. Going north from there it's probably four kilometres until one reaches the Rodos Princess hotel. Had the new one near our friend's bungalow gone ahead, it would have chopped this little piece of paradise in two.

It has, however, been stopped dead in its tracks. Here's how...

Once the diggers moved in they soon discovered that there is an entire village buried under just a few feet of soil, right slap bang where the hotel was supposed to be constructed. Having finally got my chance to go down there and walk around the place I was staggered by its size. It's at least as large as a football pitch and then some.

Situated just slightly away from all the houses and narrow alleys that are very easy to discern from the foundations that have been excavated, is an area where there are inlaid floors. I wouldn't call them mosaics exactly, but as you can see by clicking on the last few photos for a larger view, they are laid in distinctive patterns and may well have been a temple of some sort. You can also see from the photos just how close to the sea the whole thing is. It's evident on walking around the place too that it's been excavated quite extensively, but is now abandoned, with no signs or notices anywhere to tell the visitor what is known about the site. I've even done some Googling in an attempt to try and find out more and came up with nothing.

I do have a distant friend who lives up in Rhodes town and he's an archeologist, so the next time I see him I've made a mental note to see what he can tell me. It may be some months yet, but if he knows anything at all I'm gonna post it on the blog.

Seems that the small man, or indeed woman, can't do much to stop the big man from doing pretty much what he wants with the environment here in Greece. Tell you what though, the ancients have been very effective in putting the whole multi-million Euro leisure complex on ice for the foreseeable future. I'm guessing that the whole thing is possibly iron age. I've had various locals tell me with some degree of confidence what the place was. One example: "Oh yes, It's the original village of Gennadi. of course it wouldn't have been called that back then, but the 'modern' village is relatively recent by comparison and it's only a kilometre or so away, and further inland from the sea."

I don't know where they get that from. No one has been able to come up with any concrete explanation, but then, no one's been able to pour any concrete on the site either, something for which I have to secretly admit to being pretty pleased about.

Incidentally, I got the opportunity to go and check out the site while cycling down to the DIY store run by Pandelis and Maria, on the main road just opposite the health centre at Gennadi. In fact my bike is just peeking into shot on the left of the last picture of the archeological site above. I was on a mission to buy some enamel paint for our front gates. The shot below is the approach to the store. I rather like having a local DIY store where you can turn up and catch the owners having their breakfast...

That's not Pandelis himself by the way. Just a neighbour.
Not quite B&Q depot, eh? Or Wallmart! The refreshments in the Café (!?) are dead cheap though.

I do hope that one day someone will have the vision needed to publicise this site (not the DIY store, the ancient ruins). I mean, I've visited more Greek ruins than I can mention by following the directions of those brown "Archeological" road signs, many of which were literally a couple of boulders and a fallen column. This place is almost as good as Ancient Kamiros, on the other side of the island, only with the walls not being so intact. 

You can't halt progress, eh? Well, I guess that's not exactly the case. We can't, it may be true, but those people who lived here possible a couple of thousand years ago have done a pretty effective job.


  1. Wow, what an amazing looking site. I wish I had seen it when I was there in July. Would love to find out what it was. So glad another concrete eyesore hasn't gone up!

  2. Wonderful and the fact it's prevented over-development is even better! Maybe Mr 'Lardos Folk Museum' would be the one to approach to publicise this site. He has always been very good at getting the word out about his books and museum!

  3. Great news that the over development has been halted and we''ll be sure to look out for that site when we are in your neck of the woods next April. Sadly, though, findings of old buildings don't ALWAYS stop the march of "progress". They found two big Roman villa remains just up the road from us about 8 years ago when they were laying the foundations for 2 "executive" houses. All they did was document them and cover them over with the new buildings!!