Throughout a long and turbulent history, the churches on Rodos has been at the heart of society and provided an enduring constancy which bonds people even today. The buildings, many from the thirteenth and fourteenth century or earlier, offer a strand of historical and social comment but equally fascinating is the difference in architectural styles which have developed in its isolation from Greece, styles which are not seen elsewhere outside the Dodecanese.
The most obvious of these is the tiered campanile standing separately from the main church building and sometimes used as the entrance gate. Simpler examples, like Moni Skiadi, have just two tiers under a small roof dome, but those on a grander scale, and one of the best examples is at Archangelos, may have six or seven ever decreasing tiers. Almost invariably white, they offer one of the lasting impressions of the island. Another fairly distinctive feature is the cross vaulting in the roof and few of the modern churches are without it.
Religious pilgrimage is a major form of tourism amongst the Greek people who are prepared to travel island to island to see famous icons or monasteries. Many of the monasteries now recognize this and are responding by building overnight accommodation within the grounds, as at Moni Thari. Even the most humble of the churches and monasteries recognize their social role and encourage their grounds to be used to celebrate festivals and name days and facilities for this are never neglected when expansion plans are in the air.
Myth, folklore and religion are intertwined on Rodos more than anywhere in Greece many of the saints are quite local and completely without pedigree. In much the way, many local customs and superstitions are built in to religious ritual and some of these, like the belief in the evil eye, are a legacy left behind by the Ottoman Occupation.
When visiting monasteries, men must wear trousers and women skirts (trousers are not usually acceptable), as well as covering your shoulders. It is customary to take and light a candle, after placing an offering of 1-3 Euros in the box. Do not go behind the iconostasis into the sacristy (altar end of a church).