While we didn’t have as much time as we would have liked to go book hunting across the Greek Islands (Atlantis Books, my heart breaks that we couldn’t visit you in Santorini!) we did manage to duck into a few local book haunts with the limited time we had. Rhodes and Crete, two islands with a history at least as rich as mainland Greece, perhaps moreso, hid bookish surprises that we were delighted to uncover.
Rhodes Public Library
1 Aristotelous Street,
Rhodes 85100, Greece
Contained in a beautiful old stone building right in the centre of Old Town, the Rhodes Public Library is a wonder to experience and a joy to enter right from the outset. Walking through the towering wooden doors, don’t be fooled by the stark office-like façade that first greets you. Wander on through and you’ll quickly spy the main library that circles an overgrown courtyard and contains a small selection of reference books and novels, all in Greek. But the main attractions, though we weren’t sure if the public were allowed in, were the side rooms. Packed floor to vaulted ceiling with books and magazines, these rooms had no lights in them and instead were illuminated by sunlight filtering in from shuttered windows and medieval portholes. Narrow aisles, dusty tomes and darkened corridors – a booklovers dream (provided you’re not too claustrophobic!)
X-Factor: The old archives, you’ll feel like a historian uncovering ancient secrets as you wonder through!
Hafiz Ahmed Agha Library (The Muslim Library)
Sokratous, Old Town,
While this is very much worth a visit for the history lesson, don’t be fooled: there aren’t many books on display here. The main library area is closed off from visitors, however the building and the exhibits are interesting and provide insight into a period of history normally told from the victor’s point of view (The Ottoman Occupation and the Greek war of Independence).
X-Factor: One of the few remaining Ottoman relics of the occupation, celebrating Arabic scripts and Muslim texts.
Dokimakis, Al., & Co. O.E. (Mega Bazaar Biblio)
Ταγμ. Τζουλάκη 8,
A bright, light-filled bookstore located in central Heraklion. It contained a selection of maps and guidebooks in English, as well as a small range (about 40 titles at most) of English novels. Two-storey, the first floor (second floor for non Austro-Anglo readers!) is comprised of a circular balcony overlooking the ground floor and lends to its open and refreshing atmosphere.
X-Factor: A large selection of magazines in English on a variety of topics.
Ευγενικού & Χάνδακος,
Βουρβάχων 1, Iraklio 712 02
Much smaller than the above bookstore, this one was (in what’s rapidly becoming Greek tradition) packed with books on every surface. There was a huge chunk of floorspace dedicated to children’s books, and they stocked both new and used texts. In our admittedly short time there, we didn’t spot any English language novels, unfortunately.
X-Factor: Thin, curving staircase leading to an even smaller balcony/mezzanine area that you’ll have to duck your head to explore and appreciate.
Keep an eye out for our next post chronicling our Bookish adventures through Albania!