When Christianity first grew its roots in Greece, many of the ancient cult sanctuaries were transformed into churches. At that time the Filerimos temple was converted into an early Christian three-aisled basilica dedicated to Virgin Mary. The castle of Filerimos was constructed by the Byzantines in the 11th century.
The church is well known since for housing the icon of the Virgin of Filerimos. Attributed to St. Luke the Evangelist, the icon was brought in to Rhodes during the 13th century, probably from Jerusalem where it remained until 1523. Under the rule of the Knights of St. John a Monastery was built, surrounded by cloisters and cells and a number of chapels. When the island came into the possession of the Ottoman Turks, the icon was taken by the Knights to France and from there to Italy, then Malta and Russia, where it stayed until the 1917 revolution. Since 2002, it has been kept in the Blue Chapel of the National Museum of Montenegro.
The Monastery was destroyed by the Turks. In 1876, various excavations brought into light a Mycenaean pottery, a Doric foundation and the ruins of the Hellenistic temple of Athena Polias. In the ’20s, during the Italian occupation, in the effort to consolidate and justify the Italian presence on the island, a major reconstruction was carried out. They added a Via Crucis (Calvary), a pathway that leads from the monastery towards the south-western edge of the plateau, to a small square with a stunning view dominated by the Mt. Attavyros in the distance. Here an imposing iron Cross stood in the middle. The Cross was later destroyed as it was used by the allied war planes during the WWII as a landmark to hit the airport. Along the right side of the path, stone altars were built with embedded reliefs, depicting scenes of the Passions of Jesus. They even brought a congregation of Capuchin monks but no particular care was taken for the Hellenistic and Byzantine relics.
Today the Monastery remains almost unchanged. A long stair in the entrance leads up an avenue of cypresses and bougainvillea to the cloister and the foundations of the temple. The Early Christian basilica, and the small subterranean Byzantine church are open to the visitors. It is the preferred place by the Rhodians for wedding ceremonies. Stunted pastel cedars form now an archway in Via Crucis, leading to the belvedere where a few years ago a new gigantesque Cross made of concrete, was erected.References:
Built around AD 90 to entertain the legionaries stationed at the fort of Caerleon (Isca), the impressive amphitheatre was the Roman equivalent of today’s multiplex cinema. Wooden benches provided seating for up to 6,000 spectators, who would gather to watch bloodthirsty displays featuring gladiatorial combat and exotic wild animals.
Long after the Romans left, the amphitheatre took on a new life in Arthurian legend. Geoffrey of Monmouth, the somewhat imaginative 12th-century scholar, wrote in his History of the Kings of Britain that Arthur was crowned in Caerleon and that the ruined amphitheatre was actually the remains of King Arthur’s Round Table.
Today it is the most complete Roman amphitheatre in Britain.