The Dodecanese islands – twelve islands between East and West, bathed by the sun and sea. Homer sung their praises and both gods and men loved them. They rose out of the sea in some long ago age and dominated the Aegean with their fast ships and their excellent sailors. Rhodes is the largest of these islands. Its citizens worshipped the sun and in its honor made an enormous bronze statue, the Colossus of Rhodes island. It was one of the seven wonders of the world and the flame held in its hands lit up the harbor of Rhodes at night.
A crossroads of peoples and civilizations, beautiful, wealthy Rhodes ruled the Aegean. Everyone sought to claim her. Kings from the East, Romans, Saracens, Crusaders, Turks. It was conquered countless times and freed as many more. Neighbouring Kos experienced the same fate. But no foreign force could alter its serene beauty. Some thirty-five centuries ago, the city of Kos was founded next to the sacred spring of Vourina, and its sacred plane tree, the oldest tree in Europe, is still standing today on the square, reminding us of the days when Hippocrates sat in its shade and wrote the first books on medicine.
Up to then, medicine was a simple art based on suggestion and superstition. Hippocrates, with his studies, experiments and writings, laid the foundations for the modern science. His work was a real revelation. Five and a half centuries later on Patmos islands, another of the Dodecanese islands, St. John wrote his own Book of Revelations, full of awe and visions.
So much history, so much life on twelve small islands – as ancient as the twelve gods of Olympos, as different as the twelve months of the year, as eternal as the sun.