The ancient city of Lindos

The ancient city of Lindos once stood on what is now the site of the modern-day village, extending from the acropolis to cape Krana. Today it is the most important archaeological site on the island with the acropolis dominating the skyline, literally hanging on to a rock 116 metres high. The acropolis itself is an enduring testament to the power and wealth of ancient Lindos. Traditions say that the ancient city was founded by the Danaides, the fifty daughters of Danaos, who fled from Egypt and came to Lindos, building the Temple of Athena there. According to Diogenes Laërtius it was constructed in the 6th century BC during the rule of the tyrant Cleobulus, one of the Seven Sages of antiquity. The renowned temple remained a cult centre during the Hellenistic and Roman eras, despite the gradual decline in the city’s economic and political power. Later it was used as a safe haven in times of crisis before eventually becoming a fortress with a permanent garrison.

In addition to the ruins of the Temple of Athena Lindia, the Propylaea and the large Hellenistic stoa, there are also the Byzantine church of Agios Ioannis and the Governor’s Palace dating from the Knights’ period at the top of the acropolis. Carved into the rock at the bottom of the steps leading up to the acropolis is a unique relief of a Rhodian trireme (warship). In the 14th century the Knights of Saint John strengthened the fortifications and built the large stairway at the entrance to the Governor’s Palace. Also of interest is the exedra, a room with high backed benches opening onto a stoa and used as a place for philosophical discussion, which was carved out of the rock on the western side of the acropolis at the port of Agios Pavlos.

Not too far away are the foundation walls of the ancient gymnasium. It was at this location that excavations, carried out by the Danish Carlsberg Institute between 1900 and 1914, uncovered many excellent inscriptions including a chronicle of the temple and a list of the priests of Athena.

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