Medieval City of Rhodes

Rhodes, Greece

From 1309 to 1523 Rhodes, the largest island of the Dodecanese, was occupied by the Knights of St John of Jerusalem who had lost their last stronghold in Palestine, in Acre, in 1291. They transformed the island capital into a fortified city able to withstand sieges as terrible as those led by the Sultan of Egypt in 1444 and Mehmet II in 1480. Rhodes finally fell in 1522 after a six-month siege carried out by Suleyman II.

The medieval city is located within a 4 km-long wall. It is divided with the high town to the north and the lower town south-southwest. Originally separated from the lower town by a fortified wall, the high town was entirely built by the Knights. The Order was organized into seven tongues, each having its own seat, or inn. The inns of the tongues of Italy, France, Spain and Provence lined the principal east-west axis, the famous Street of the Knights, on both sides, one of the finest testimonies to Gothic urbanism. To the north, close to the site of the Knights’ first hospice, stands the Inn of Auvergne, whose facade bears the arms of Guy de Blanchefort, Grand Master from 1512 to 1513. The original hospice was replaced in the 15th century by the Great Hospital, built between 1440 and 1489, on the south side of the Street of the Knights.

The lower town is almost as dense with monuments as the high town. In 1522, with a population of 5000, it had many churches, some of Byzantine construction. Throughout the years, the number of palaces and charitable foundations multiplied in the south-southeast area: the Court of Commerce, the Archbishop’s Palace, the Hospice of St. Catherine, and others.

Its history and development up to 1912 has resulted in the addition of valuable Islamic monuments, such as mosques, baths and houses. After 1523, most churches were converted into Islamic mosques, like the Mosque of Soliman, Kavakli Mestchiti, Demirli Djami, Peial ed Din Djami, Abdul Djelil Djami, Dolapli Mestchiti.

The ramparts of the medieval city, partially erected on the foundations of the Byzantine enclosure, were constantly maintained and remodelled between the 14th and 16th centuries under the Grand Masters. Artillery firing posts were the final features to be added. At the beginning of the 16th century, in the section of the Amboise Gate, which was built on the northwest angle in 1512, the curtain wall was 12 m thick with a 4 m-high parapet pierced with gun holes. The fortifications of Rhodes exerted an influence throughout the eastern Mediterranean at the end of the Middle Ages.

The citadel of Rhodes is one of the best-preserved medieval towns in Europe, which in 1988 was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.



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Founded: 14th century
Category: Historic city squares, old towns and villages in Greece


4.7/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Peter Wilson (3 years ago)
Well worth a visit when in Rhodes. Amazing piece of architecture and history. Lots of interesting things to see, along with the usual shops, and bars/cafes etc.
William Davies (3 years ago)
Something for everyone, although I'm primarily talking about the harbour and old town. Three harbours cater for the private yachts, day trips and cruise liners, with the old site of the Colossus of Rhodes at the entrance. The walled old town has history, shops and restaurants galore with the usual touting for a restaurant. It's all very atmospheric after sunset. Went at the end of September and the weather was fantastic. The bus terminus is a very small affair but the guy running it knows his stuff. Good food and friendly characters. Would have got 5 stars if there weren't any shops.
Tony Waite (3 years ago)
Wonderful time. So much history, culture and warmth; from the local people in the hotel, shops and beaches to the sunshine and gorgeous weather. Your next holiday MUST be in Rhodes.
Stuart Cook (3 years ago)
The Medieval City of Rhodes is a true gem. The cobbled streets and alleyway are lovely, the walls, fortifications and gates well preserved. Away from the bustle of the main throughways, the side streets are there to be explored, and it's there you'll find better quality and more authentic restaurants. In the small streets near Saint John's Gate you'll find small houses still occupied by locals. In the north, The Street Of The Knights is a must-see. Cars (except those of residents) are prohibited in the medieval quarters, thankfully. There are occasional public transport electric vehicles to carry people with heavy bags (free of charge). These travel along the two or three main streets.
Michael Diamantis (3 years ago)
Absolutely stunning place. From it's cobbled streets to its grand castles to its churches and mosques the medieval city of Rhodes is a must see for any traveller wishing to be the past. It's very well preserved and offers many interesting museums and cultural sites that people can visit for those wanting to learn, while also having a wide array of pubs, bars, clubs, and restaurants for those that just want to relax and party a little bit. Its definetly worth a visit
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