After a short drive we will ascent to the top of Filerimos Hill (1 hour stay), which is situated about 15 km from Rhodes Town on a hill 267m, overlooking the small town of Ialyssos and the bay of Ixia and Trianda and on the same site where once stood the Doric City of Ialyssos in ancient times. Ialyssos was one of the three famous ancient cities on Rhodes. In the surrounding area remains of occupation have been found going back to the end of the 3rd millennium BC and there are also settlements and cemeteries dating from the Mycenaean – Minoan period.
Arriving at the top of the hill, you will see a well organized parking plot. To the right side you will notice the ruins of the ancient Ialyssos and to the left side is a small kiosk with souvenirs and beverages. You are free to decide either start the Archaeological site (at the left) or walk (on the right) the footway enjoying the panoramic view over Ialyssos. Either way and during your tour, you will be followed by the mating cries of the peacocks!
You can visit the monastery of Our Lady and the remains of the ancient Acropolis of Ialyssos. (The entrance fee for visiting the church is 6,00 euros). Visitors can walk along the “Golgotha”, a tree sheltered pathway which was built during the period of Italian rule (1912-1945), with a series of shrines with relief scenes of the Holly Passion. This foot way leads to the west edge of Filerimos where an enormous imposing cross is appeared, from the top of which one can cherish the outstanding view of villages and bright green valleys that are generously stretched around. This site is famous because of the lovely and quite walkways.
Leaving from Filerimos Hill, we continue our tour, visiting the Valley of Butterflies (2 hours stay), one of the most attractive destinations of the island. The canyon of Pelekanos River hosts a unique Valley that is named after the Panaxia Quatripunctaria Butterfly. The Valley was found in the 1930s by Italians who developed a beautiful 1 km path that goes through the canyon along with the areas where the butterflies are most densely populated. First studies were conducted by a German entomologist Reinhard Eiger.
It’s a unique and peaceful ecological setting, being a true pride of nature of Rhodes island, with narrow rock walkways, lakes decorated by water-lilies, rustic bridges, running waters, waterfalls and resting places loaded with millions of brown-red butterflies. During July, August & September, thousands of butterflies of the genus Panaxia swarm into the valley in order to reproduce. The sweet smell of the resin attracts the butterflies and when you are walking around, you will see Liquidambar trees everywhere and hundreds of Butterflies on the trunk and leaves.
We stop at the parking area NO2 just 50 meters from the main entrance-reception of the valley and in these 2 hours staying, you are free to walk as long as you like, relax in one of the coffee shops or buy souvenirs. Visitors can witness a spectacular phenomenon which occurs only rarely in nature. Huge numbers of butterflies of this specific species congregate in the valley during the final stage of their life cycle.
Every year, at the end of the wet season, thousands of butterflies attracted by the scent of the oriental sweetgum trees, cover the entire landscape. They are actually adult insects that follow the waterways and migrate here to reproduce (females leave for other suitable areas to lay their eggs in the early fall) due to the high humidity of the area.
The butterflies are actually resting at the Valley! The moths cannot eat during this final phase of their life cycle, so they rest here to conserve energy. Any loud noise would force them to fly away, thereby consuming valuable energy and finally die. Observe them as they “sleep” well camouflaged in black and yellow. In flight their cheery – red underwings flash!
(From October – 31st of May the price for entrance fee to Valley of Butterflies is 3,00 euro/per person and from 1st of June – September the price is 5,00 euro/per person)