The quaint village of Archangelos is situated on the east side of the island of Rhodes. It lies between Lindos and the city of Rhodes, at a distance of 28 km.
Based on historical findings, its history starts somewhere in the depths of the Neolithic Age and the Bronze Age. People resided in the area of Koumelo from 4000 B.C. Recently, they discovered artifacts from the Neolithical and the Mycenaean Age in the Koumelo Cave. During the Archaic years (7th – 6th century B.C.) there existed a powerful city, in the location of today’s village, which went by the name Municipality of Pontoreon, which belonged to the city-state of Ialysia. The ancient Pontoreans were a Greek race and the name Pontorea is derived from the word “pontos” and “oros”; or in other words “sea” and “mountain”. The Municipality of Rontoreon spread from the sea up to the surrounding hills and valleys. During the Christian years, with the merging of the settlements of the Municipality of Pontoreas, the village of Archangelos was created.
The village is embraced by the hills of Chelandros, Caravos and Tsampika which all got their names from the three types of ships the Pontoreans constructed during the classical and archaic years. For the Tsampika hill there are two versions; according to the first version, the hill was originally named Zamviki (which later is from where Tsampika is derived) and is associated to the construction of the homonymous ships made by the Pontoreans, which were the shape of this hill. According to the second version and folkloric tradition, the name comes from the word “tsamba” or in other words “flame”. It was the light that showed the way to the location of the miraculous icon of the Virgin Tsampika.
The Municipality of Pontorean, which later became Archangelos, had a leading role in politics, economy and naval activity of the island throughout all its historical development. The tale is told by the area which is dotted by wells, reservoirs, the caves, abundant stones used for construction and strong holding buildings, the vegetation and the ports.
A particular characteristic that Archangelos possesses is its rich cultural heritage and the dedicated convergence of its inhabitants during local folk traditions up to date, despite the changes contemporary life has brought.
In the center of the village stands the church of Archangel Micheal Taxiarxis which dates back to 1845 and is celebrated on 8th November. The features that stand out are the “νευρωτά σταυροθόλια”, the cobble paved yard and the peculiar belfry, which stands out from a far.
The traditional historical center of the village is found surrounding the church – the narrow whitewashed alleys, the small, traditional, archangelic homes with their ornate gates and their wood burning ovens in the yards. The aroma of freshly baked bread every Saturday and the hospitable people of Archangelos, who keep the local voice alive and the customs of the village, all create a very warm atmosphere. A short distance away we come across the little church of the Archangel Gabriel Patitirioti (the Grape Stomper), whose name is associated to the existence of the “patitiri” (wine press) and the residents’ activities and production of wine. There is also the little church of St. John with murals from the 15th and 16th century.
Behind the Archangel’s church a road winds uphill towards the Knights’ Castle. This was built in the 15th century by the Ioanite Knights to protect the village from pirates. A single-domed (μονόθολο) church of St. George Castrenos, (St. George of the Castle), has been preserved from Byzantine period inside the Castle.
A little bit before we exit the village of Archangelos from the North, we walk downhill along a winding road and at 500m. distance, we arrive at Stegna, which is a small beach of Archangelos with the graphic port. On the road to the beach we will meet up with Petrona, where the traditional potters of Archangelos worked and created useful ceramic items. During the Byzantine years emperor Justinian used the clay from the village of Archangelos to build the church of Agia Sophia in Constantinople. There also exists the small church of St. George Petroniati in Petrona.
From the south exit of the village we walk downhill towards the Aithona valley, which is full of water, orange trees, mandarin trees, lemon trees, plane trees, willows and myrtles. The name of the valley comes from the verb “αίθω” (e-tho), which means “I shine, I light up”. Legend has it that Aithonas was the Sun god’s favorite “ati” (ά-ti) or horse. There also lies the church of the Merciful Virgin (Panagia Eleimonitra). The river named Ha flows through Aithonas valley.
Two kilometres north of the town, alongside the public road of Lindos-Rhodes, which heads towards Rhodes, is where you will find the monastery of the Virgin Mary Tsampika. This dates back to 1760 and is celebrated on 8th September, which is the Virgin Mary’s birthday. The church is of Dodekanese type with σταυροθόλια, cobbled floors, an impressive wood sculpted τέμπλο and hagiography. The church hosts the miraculous icon of the Virgin Mary Tsampika. The locals traditionally consider the Virgin Mary a guardian of their families, of fertility and of the moment of childbirth. The yard of the monastery is covered with lush, green trees like pines and other perennial trees.
Moving further down a few meters, we go uphill to the right towards the Virgin Mary Tsampika – Ano Kyra tin Psili (the Lady of the hill). At the top of the homonymous hill at 365 meters, is the church of the Kyra (Lady). This, in the past, was the original monastery of the Virgin Mary Tsampika. Below, at the foot of the hill, one has a view of one of the most enchanting beaches of Rhodes – the Tsampika Beach.
Five kilometers south of Archangelos, we see the ruins of the medieval Faraclou Castle, which rests on top of the homonymous hill. This used to be the pirates’ attack base and Rhodes’ first fortress after its occupation by the Ioanite Knights. To the right and to the left of the Castle there are two exquisite beaches. One is “chrisi” (golden) which is St. Agatha’s beach with a cave church. This was St. Agatha’s hermitage. The other beach is called “Haraki” with a fishing village and graphic port of the same name.
The Archangelos’ habitants established the non-profit organization “Faethon”, an Equestrian Club, which has gathered all the surviving small horses (they are living only at Rhodes) and has put forth a rescue effort for them.
In the Municipality of Archangelos there is also the natural splendor of the area called “Epta Piges” (seven springs), which got its name from the seven natural springs that are located there. The water that gushes forth from them, forms a small river which through a tunnel ends up falling into an artificial lake with falls.
Archangelos today is a contemporary town with regular and frequent transportation towards the city of Rhodes, the surrounding villages and beaches. Banks, Post Office, communication services, Health Center and pharmacies, are all available. There are also rental services, hotels, restaurants and cafes. The very active association “Aithonas” organizes frequent cultural activities with an emphasis on local traditions, especially in the month of August. Important cultural events take place during Mardi Gras also.
The religious festivals of Archangelos are celebrated with festivities accompanied by food and dance. The most well known feasts are on 8th November for the Archangel Micheal, on 8th September for the Virgin Mary Tsampika (the Virgin Mary’s birthday), St. Marina’s on 17th July and the Merciful Virgin or “Panagia Eleimonitria” on 23rd August (the Nine Days of the Virgin Sleep).