The Old Town of Rhodes



The Old City of Rhodes is surrounded by medieval walls with seven gates: Gate of the Naval Station, Gate of Agios Ioannis, Gate of Agia Ekaterini, Gate of the Apostle Paul, Gate of Amboise, Gate of Agios Athanassios and the Gate of the port.


The city was founded in 408 BC during the Peloponnesian War by the three largest towns on the island after they united as a way to increase their security. During the course of history, Rhodes Town was controlled by various powers including Sparta, Athens, and later the Romans. Over time, Rhodes developed strong commercial ties with Egypt and this irritated the King of Syria. The King sent his son to capture Rhodes but this failed and the son returned home. However, he left behind the siege equipment which the Rhodians sold in order to build the great Colossus that was completed in 282 BC. Roman intervention grew by the end of the 3rd century BC. The Romans squashed the Rhodians free trade in order to limit their power. Consequently, the Rhodians refused to help Cassius fight Rome's enemies after Julius Caesar was assassinated. As a result of this, Cassius captured and destroyed much of Rhodes in 42 BC.



Grandmaster palace

After the breakup of the Roman Empire it became a part of the Byzantine Empire. The commercial success of Rhodes grew since it was becoming a major link between the East and West. It was attacked and sacked a number of times by different perpetrators including the Persians in 620 A.D., Saracens in 651, the fleet of Caliph Haroun-El-Raschid in 807 and the pirates in the 12th century. The Venetians setup a commercial station in the harbor in 1082. When the Byzantines lost control of Constantinople in 1204 Rhodes came under the control of a local Venetian landowner. The town was later sold by the Venetian admirals to the Order of the Knights of Saint John of Jerusalem in 1309. It was under the 213 year rule of these Knights that Rhodes Town acquired its aura of massive walls, impregnable gates, and deep moats.


The Palace of the Knights (aka the Palace of the Grand Masters) is definitely a must see. Again, it has the perfect feel of a massive gothic castle. This served as the Knights' administrative center and was built on the site of the Acropolis of the 7th century Byzantine period. The palace was completely destroyed by an explosion in 1865 and it was rebuilt by the Italians. The beautiful mosaics you will see on the floor are from the Hellenistic and Roman periods and were brought in from the island of Kos. The straight road leading down to the port from the palace is the Street of the Knights and it was the main thorough fair 500 years ago. It is a cobblestone street that was built over an ancient path that led from the Acropolis down to the port. This is touted as the best preserved medieval street in Europe and it is a fascinating walk. It is also home to most of the Inns of the Knights. The Knights were divided into seven religious orders based on language and the Inns of these orders line the Street of the Knights. They are now government offices and not open to the public.

Grandmaster palace



Below the walls

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