City Walls of Rhodes

Rhodes, Greece

The fortifications of the town of Rhodes are shaped like a defensive crescent around the medieval town and consist mostly in a modern fortification composed of a huge wall made of an embankment encased in stone, equipped with scarp, bastions, moat, counterscarp and glacis. The portion of fortifications facing the harbour is instead composed of a crenellated wall. On the moles towers and defensive forts are found.

They were built by the Knights Hospitaller of Saint John by enhancing the existing Byzantine walls starting from 1309, the year in which they took possession of the island after a three-year struggle.

Like most of the defensive walls they were built with a technique called rubble masonry which allows for a great mass capable of withstanding the gunshots with smooth external stone faces to avoid climbing.

In 1440 the Mameluke sultan of Egypt tried without success to conquer the town sieging it for 40 days. In 1480 Rhodes was besieged by the troops of Mehmed II but the powerful army of the conqueror manned with 100,000 troops and 170 ships was repelled by the courage of the Knights and the strong fortifications, notwithstanding the outnumbering assailants. In 1481 a destructive earthquake struck the island causing severe damages to the houses and the fortification and about 30,000 casualties. A new Ottoman siege could not be withstood, so the Knights made available their great financial resources and in a very short time the most important palaces of the town and the fortifications were rebuilt.

The Bastion of Italy (or Post of Italy) in which the Ottomans had opened a breach in 1480 was rebuilt with a powerful chemin de ronde for the reverse fire of cannons on the nearby spans of wall. This bastion was named 'Bastion Del Carretto' after the Grand Master. The gate of Saint John was closed and a pentagonal bastion with the same name was built on the western side of the walls to guard Gate d'Amboise. After The Ottoman conquered Rhodes in 1522 they did not demolish the walls but repaired them and kept them under maintenance during the four centuries of their rule.

The fortifications of Rhodes were frozen at 1522 so that Rhodes is one of the few European walled towns that still shows the transition between the classical medieval fortification and the modern ones. The fortifications that still today make a belt around the medieval town, so that it is a separate neighbour from the new town, were restored during the Italian administration of the island. There are 11 gates to access the old city. Some of them are ancient, some are modern.



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Komninon 2, Rhodes, Greece
See all sites in Rhodes


Founded: 1309
Category: Castles and fortifications in Greece

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4.8/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Annette Muschka (5 months ago)
Very worth seeing. Tickets available at the Grand Master's Palace. 1 KM walkable, about 45 minutes.
Mary Chatzistefanou (2 years ago)
Stelios Bakiris (2 years ago)
This is really worth it
Niels van de Coevering (2 years ago)
If you haven't made it too late on Saturday evening, I can recommend that you go for an early walk between the city walls on Sunday morning. You can then enjoy the city and the city walls in peace, without many people walking. When you walk between the city walls, take a look once in a while into such a hole in the wall. It could be a passage to the other side. And deviate from the main streets in the streets and you will find nice little streets where the big tourist crowds hardly come
Tomasz P. Wójcik (2 years ago)
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