The Dodecanese are a group of 12 larger plus 150 smaller Greek islands in the Aegean Sea, off the southwest coast of Turkey, southward of the island of Samos and northeastward of the island of Crete. They have a rich history, and many of even the smallest inhabited islands boast dozens of Byzantine churches and medieval castles.
The modern prefecture of the Dodecanese, a subdivision of the South Aegean periphery, consists of 163 islands in total, of which 26 are inhabited. Twelve of these are major, giving the chain its name. The most historically important and well-known is Rhodes (Rodos), which for millennia has been the island from which the region is controlled. Of the others, Kos and Patmos are historically more important; the remaining nine are Astipalea, Kalimnos, Karpathos, Kasos, Leros, Nisyros, Symi, Tilos and Kastelorizo (which actually lies in the eastern Mediterranean sea).
Other notable islands in the chain include Agathonisi, Chalki, Lipsi, Pserimos, and Telendos.
Excavations conducted in Rhodes have brought to light a good number of important monuments from the three most cignificant cities of the island: Lindos, Kamiros and Ialysos. Their ruins, especially those of Lindos, are worth a visit by all who come to the island, for they surely will admire the civilisation of ancient Greece.
In antiquity painting and sculpture were highly developed on Rhodes. The most important sculpted work of the "Rhodian School" was the famous Colossus, a bronze statue of the god Helios who was the principal deity worshipped in Rhodes. On Rhodes one also comes across notable monuments of the early Christian period, Byzantine churches etc.