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Costumes of the Greek Island of Rhodes, Dodecanese

Rhodes is a beautiful island in the Dodecanese island complex in Greece, in the Southeastern part of the Aegean Sea. It is the largest of the Dodecanese islands and is also the island group's historical capital. The name of the island comes from the ancient Greek Rhódon (rose) and is sometimes called the island of roses. Rhodes has attracted many tourists since the beginning of the tourism industry in Greece, which elevated the economy of the island. Even Greeks who never visited the island are quite familiar with its scenery from Greek movies that take place in Rhodes, from the golden era of Greek cinema in the 60s. That was during a trip to six islands in the Dodecanese, in collaboration with Blue Star Ferries.

Costumes of the Greek Island of Rhodes, Dodecanese by George Tatakis
Costumes of the Greek Island of Rhodes, Dodecanese

Visiting the island of Rhodes.

My first visit to Rhodes was during a school trip when I was still in high school. After that, I had never visited the island, apart from a couple of few-hour stops in-between trips to other islands. I wanted to visit the island again, and my Caryatis photographic project was a good excuse for that, as Rhodes is home to a number of beautiful traditional costumes.


The village of Gennadi is located very close to Prasonisi at a distance of 63 km from the city centre. It is one of the largest villages in southern Rhodes.

It is a quiet resort, built near the sea with a strong element of tradition. Narrow streets and small whitewashed well-preserved houses, with hidden courtyards, villas and towers. Characteristic of the architecture of the village are the high external walls of the houses.

In Gennadi, however, what impresses us are the beautiful beaches with crystal clear waters. There you will find various hotels and villas and everything you need, from restaurants, rooms for rent, cafes, supermarkets etc. The beaches with sand or pebbles are organized, and you have the opportunity to try various water sports. It is ideal for those who love surfing.

With the help of the locals, we found three different places for our shooting. The first was a local very old church with an interesting interior, a local house that kept to its traditional aspects and a local folklore museum with stone walls and clay urns in its interior. The house had a beautiful interior wall with the characteristic decoration that you see in most parts of the island, consisting of local clay dishes and many frames with icons, embroideries or photographs.

Traditional costumes of Gennadi town in Rhodes island, Dodecanese, Greece, by photographer George Tatakis
Traditional costumes of Gennadi

Ceramic dishes in Rhodes \\

Rhodes was home to the famous ceramic factory "ICARO". The ICARO company was founded by the Italians on December 19, 1928, in the context of an ambitious plan for the industrialization and development of the Dodecanese. Its purpose was the manufacture of artistic ceramics, and more specifically copies of the sought-after Iznik ceramics, which existed in large quantities in the mansions of Lindos, to the extent that until the beginning of the 20th century they were considered products of Rhodian ceramic art. The ICARO company's ceramics production flourished in the 1930s-1940s and managed to survive the Second World War period. With the integration of the Dodecanese in Greece and the departure of the Italians, the company was sold to the wealthy businessman Konstantinos D. Hadjikostantis.

Traditional costumes of Gennadi town in Rhodes island, Dodecanese, Greece, by photographer George Tatakis
Traditional costumes of Gennadi inside the local folklore museum


Afantou is also a village that today is known for its 5km beach that attracts many tourists. However, the Afantou traditional costume is a beautiful one in its simplicity. I was fortunate enough to find a traditional local house with the help of the locals and create some photographs of the costume variations. This time there was also a man dressed in his traditional costume so I took the opportunity to include him in the photographs. On one side of the house's interior, there was a wall that was covered in a floral design which I found interesting and complemented the costume really nice.

Traditional costumes of Afantou town in Rhodes island, Dodecanese, Greece, by photographer George Tatakis
Traditional costumes of Afantou


Afantou is a town of Rhodes and one of the oldest settlements on the island. The Afandou were particularly famous for their textiles. The municipality was famous for its figs, while the main occupation of the inhabitants was agriculture.

In 1522, Rhodes comes under the occupation of the Ottoman Empire. In 1935, the Italians expropriated the estates of the Columbia area, creating a model agricultural village, San Benedetto. They laid out roads, divided the area into blocks and built the Catholic church of St. Benedict, while Italian schools were also established, which for some time had replaced the Greek ones.

After the union of the Dodecanese with Greece in 1947, the development of the region began. Carpet weaving was a traditional occupation of the women of Afandou until the mid-1960s. However, during the 1950s, the population of the area decreased significantly due to emigration mainly to Germany. The economic development of the area started in the 80s with its tourism development.

Traditional costumes of Afantou town in Rhodes island, Dodecanese, Greece, by photographer George Tatakis
Traditional costume of Afantou


Archangelos is a town located on the island of Rhodes. It is built on the central-eastern coast of the island, at an altitude of 160 m, inside the bay of the same name. The highest mountain in the area is Helandros (507 m.) where the chapel of Prophet Ilias is located.

The inhabitants are mainly engaged in agriculture and animal husbandry as well as pottery. In recent times, they are also involved in the processing of agricultural products.

On June 26, 1926, Archangelos was levelled by a magnitude 8 earthquake. The strongest earthquake since the beginning of records in Greece.

I have created photographs of three ladies that wear authentic old costumes. The costumes were taken from the local folklore museum, which can be visited in the town of Archangelos. We had the opportunity to shoot inside a traditional home and then we moved to a location outdoors that overlooked the town. Archangelos is a traditional settlement, but due to the earthquake and tourism development, has unfortunately lost most of its traditional colour. Today it is somewhat difficult to spot local traditional houses without the help of a local.

To the east of the settlement, on a hill 216 meters high near the sea, lies the castle of Archangelos. Its construction dates back to the time when the Grand Master was Jacques de Milly (1454-1461). The area of the castle is 3,000 square meters and its walls are 240 meters long. About 20 years ago, the walls had started to be torn down, but with the initiative of the Municipality of Archangelos, their reconstruction began, and today it can be visited.

In the region, in addition to Modern Greek, a local dialect called Archaggelitiki is spoken. The dialect is very similar to the Cypriot dialect and specifically to its Paphitic idiom, to which, however, local lexical elements have been added over time. This affinity between the two dialects is a good indication of the origin of the inhabitants.

Traditional bridal costume of Archangelos town in Rhodes island, Dodecanese, Greece, by photographer George Tatakis
Traditional bridal costume of Archangelos

When we finished shooting, the locals took me to a local fish tavern to have some dinner at the coast of Archangelos. I highly recommend these fish taverns, which serve really fresh fish and seafood at reasonable prices.


Acquire a print from the work on Rhodes

Make a statement in your home or office with unique, one-of-a-kind art from the work in Rhodes island, by the awarded photographer George Tatakis. Not only will you be adding beauty and interest to your space, but you'll also be supporting important ethnographic work. Click here

Acquire a print of the work from Rhodes, Greece, by photographer George Tatakis


The traditional costume of Emponas is modest but impressive. It consists of: The white shirt, embroidered on the neck, sleeves and hem. The black cotton sleeveless dress is multi-pleated with thin coloured ribbons at the hem and neckline. The costume is completed with a red wool belt, colourful printed scarf and leather boots. This is a quite famous Rhodian costume and is broadly used as the representative of the island.

There is an interesting folklore museum locally, located inside a very old traditional house. Even the floor is made of clay soil, which gives us a hint of its age. This was the perfect spot to create my photographs and four local girls dressed in the local costume for the shooting. I found several useful props inside the house that I used in my scene direction. There was even a loom, placed at one side with beautiful side light. I had to struggle to manage to open this back door, but it was well worth it.

Traditional costume of Emponas town in Rhodes island, Dodecanese, Greece, by photographer George Tatakis
Traditional costume of Emponas, by the loom

Wine in Emponas \\

Embonas is located 52 km SW. of Rhodes (town) on the slopes of Attavyros, the highest mountain on the island (1,250 meters). The inhabitants are mainly engaged in animal husbandry and vine cultivation, which is why there are several modern as well as traditional wineries. The region is famous for its wines and is known for the local variety "Boniatiko".

Just above Embonas at an altitude of 700 meters is Harakaki. The area is generally acknowledged to have the best vineyard in Rhodes. On a truly impressively steep and wild mountainside, overlooking the Aegean Sea and Chalki island, the finest grapes of Atherio ripen. From this area, which does not exceed 100 acres, the Athiri of Vounoplagia is produced, perhaps the best Athiri of Rhodes (here the vines are strained and the yields per acre are limited but the wine acquires the most intense flavours of citrus, apricot, and banana).

Traditional costume of Emponas town in Rhodes island, Dodecanese, Greece, by photographer George Tatakis
Traditional costume of Emponas town


Apollona is a large village in north-central Rhodes, on the south-central slopes of Mount Prophet Ilias and at an average altitude of 330. The village of Apollona takes its name from the Temple of the god Apollo, who was once the patron of the island of Rhodes and the fine arts.

The village has about a thousand inhabitants, rich vegetation, with more than seventeen thousand acres of land. As a result, the majority of the community's residents are engaged in the cultivation of olive trees. The village cathedral is decorated with wonderful frescoes of the lives of saints and a cobbled courtyard. The folklore museum of the village is worth a visit and exhibits a wide variety of household utensils, agricultural tools, and impressive ancient objects such as an old olive press, sarcophagi and medieval millstones. Also, you can see traditional women's costumes, and products sold by local women, such as embroidery, sweets, bread and other delicacies.

I found the local costume to be very chic and the pleats of the white shirt of the bridal costume resembled an ancient dress to my eyes. We made photographs inside a traditional home, where you can also see the traditional bed of a Rhodian house. We also made some more images inside a local cafe and had some greek coffee as well.

Café "Stou Plastira (Pernos)" \\

I have made some photographs of this local Café. It is housed in a special Italian building, created by the architect Dimitrios Margellos. The space is impressively large because the goal from the beginning was for the café to also function as an event space. Eminent figures of the arts frequented there throughout the ages. Originally the café was called Pernos (= holly tree, because of a tree that was next to the café), but recently it was renamed "Stou Plastira". Its current owner, Tasos Palazis, wanted to keep the history of the café alive while creating a special space - a museum, which would be an attraction for visitors. Thus, in the café, one can admire antique objects and heirlooms, while in the same space there are three thematics (shoemaker, barber shop and grocery store), replicas of "shops" that used to operate in the posh cafés of Greece. The main living room of the café is dominated by the Italian element with authentic objects from the 1920s. The café has a strong cultural activity. Theatrical performances, musical theatre narratives, puppet shows, film screenings, live shows, lectures, book presentations, etc. are an integral part of its culture.

Costume of Apollona town in Rhodes island, Dodecanese, Greece, by photographer George Tatakis
Costume of Apollona inside the "Stou Plastira" café

After we finished for the day, the locals suggested we go to an interesting local restaurant, The Greek restaurant "Paraga". A masterfully made shanty, that became a meeting point for all the foodies of the island, locals and visitors. It is located at the entrance of the village in the place that used to house the club of Italian officers. Today, the Efthimiou and Sedona families, offer to every visitor the authentic flavours of Rhodesian cuisine. I had already spotted that restaurant through local guides and I wanted to visit, so that was a great opportunity.

Speaking of food, if you visit Rhodes, I really want to suggest the seafood restaurant of Mr. Pizanias, "the Sea Star", located within the castle walls in the town of Rhodes. I am in no way biased for suggesting any of the places herein, as no one pays me to do so. Pizanias uses excellent and fresh raw materials at reasonable prices and has a great collection of wines and ouzo! We became friends very quickly as I wanted to have some ouzo, and instead of browsing through their available brands, he asked me which one I liked the most. I answered "Aphrodite" which in my opinion is the best greek ouzo, made by the Varvayannis family. However, it is very difficult to find it in restaurants and I didn't expect them to have it. The owner answered, sure, I got that.





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