Rhodes. In the footsteps of the knights

Rhodes is the largest of Dodecanese islands and is located at the southeast part of the Aegean Sea. Its capital is the city of Rhodes. The city was famous for one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, the Colossus of Rhodes, the statue of the Greek sun god Helios. The Old Town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

It was the island of the sun god according to the ancient poet Pindar. The first inhabitants, according to mythology, believed to be Telchines, who lived on the island before the Great Flood, which destroyed the ancient civilizations. After the flood, the sun god Helios has married the nymph Rhodes and gave her name to the island. They had seven children. One of the sons, Kerkafos, married Kydippis, the daughter of his brother and had three children. Kameiros, Ialyssos and Lindos.

All the photos have been taken by me in July 2014

A brief history of Rhodes

Archaeological evidences show, that Rhodes has been inhabited since the Neolithic period. The appearance of the Dorians in the 11th century BC marked a new era in the history of the island. The island was divided into three areas, which were dominated by the three cities of Ialyssos, Kameiros and Lindos. From the 7th to the 5th century BC Rhodes had been growed socially and economically.

The island was occupied by the Persians in 491 BC. During the Peloponnesian War the Rhodian people took the place of Sparta in 408 BC. The three major cities decided to unify the island and the city of Rhodes was built. Symbols of the new city were the head of the sun god and his wife, as well as the rose, the flower of the wild pomegranate.

During the Hellenistic years, Rhodes was at the center of the conflicts between the successors and descendants of Alexander the Great. Demetrius the Besieger, son of Antigonus I Monophthalmus, tried unsuccessfully to seize the city. For this victory, the Rhodian people built in 290 BC a huge statue of the sun god, the Colossus. The Colossus of Rhodes was destroyed by a great earthquake in 226 BC. The Arabs, who conquered Rhodes in 653 AD, shattered the statue to many pieces and sold them for metal.

Byzantine period – Turkish occupation

During the Byzantine era, Rhodes was part of the Province of the Islands. In 1082 AD the Venetians set up a trading post in Rhodes. The Crusades caused significant upheavals in the eastern Mediterranean. The island of Rhodes did not remain unaffected and was the apple of contention for the western dominant states. The arrival of the Knights Hospitaller in 1310 marked a new period of stability for the whole island. The Knights began military operations around Rhodes to secure the new home from the pirates and Turks. Their rule ended in 1522 with the conquest of Rhodes by the Ottoman Turks of Suleiman the Magnificent.

The Turks expelled the Christian population of the island and turned the Christian churches into mosques. During the Turkish occupation, Rhodes was the seat of the Sandzak of Rhodes and the capital of the vilayet of the Archipelago. The Turks occupied the island until 1912, when Rhodes passed to Italians. The Italians remained there until 1947, when it was decided at the Paris Peace Conference to cede Rhodes and the other islands to Greece. The union with Greece officially took place on March 7th, 1948.

Major Sights

The island has many famous sights, that attract travelers from all over the world. Some of them are:

The Palace of the Grand Master is the trademark of the city of Rhodes and one of the most magnificent buildings in the whole island. It was the seat of the Knights Hospitaller from 1310 to 1522.

Lindos with its citadel is located at the southern part of the island. It is a beautiful popular tourist destination. The endless blue of the Aegean Sea fascinates the visitors.

The Old Town

The Old Town of Rhodes is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and popular among tourists each year. The visitor can admire several surviving medieval buildings and places, such as the Street of the Knights, the Walls with the moat, the Knights Hospital, which is the Archaeological Museum now, the Suleiman Mosque, the Clock Tower and the Our Lady of the Castle church.

The Acropolis

The Acropolis is located at the city of Rhodes and on the hill of Monte Smith. There the visitor can see the ruins of the temple of Pythian Apollo, the Stadium, the Odeon, as well as the ruins of the temples of Athena Polias and Zeus. The Odeon is fully reconstructed and held 800 spectators. The Stadium was restored by the Italians and it is located on the southeast side of the hill. The archaeological site of Acropolis covers 12.500 sq. meters.

Ancient Kameiros

Kameiros was an important commercial center of ancient Rhodes and was founded by the Mycenaeans. It flourished in the 6th century BC and at this time the temple of Athena was built. The city continued to be inhabited until the 2nd century AD.

Our Lady of the castle church, Rhodes
Our Lady of the castle church

Famous beaches

The island of Rhodes has many beaches for swimming and water sports. The best known are:

  1. Rhodes beach

The city of Rhodes has its own beach. It is huge and located on the north side behind the casino. Residents and tourists of the city choose this beach for their swim. The beach is organized with sunbeds and beach bar.

  1. Kallithea beach

It is located in the eastern part of the island near Kallithea village, which is known for the thermal springs. The beach has small and rocky bays with clear and turquoise waters. It is an organized beach with sunbeds and taverns, where everyone can enjoy their food.

  1. Anthony Quinn beach

The beach got its name from the famous actor Anthony Quinn, who starred in the war movie “Guns of Navarone”. It is one of the most beautiful and picturesque beaches of Rhodes. Pines and sunbeds offer shade to bathers, while a canteen is essential for eating.

  1. Kolympia beach

The Kolympia beach is located at the end of a street surrounding by eucalyptus trees. The beach is sandy with fine pebbles and full of colorful umbrellas. It has sunbeds and is preferred by families with children. Behind the beach are many hotels and tourist accommodation.

  1. Afandou beach

Another large and famous beach of Rhodes island. It is located at the homonymous village. It has sand, fine pebbles and crystal waters that deepen sharply after a few meters. The beach is partially organized. Several fish taverns and a few restaurants offer food.

  1. Lindos beach

It is located at the city of Lindos. The picturesque cove with sand and clear blue waters are suitable for endless swimming. The beach is organized with umbrellas, sunbeds and a beach bar. There are also grocery stores.

Useful Links

  1. Rhodes Travel Guide
  2. 11 Best Things To Do In Rhodes, Greece
  3. Best Things to Do in Rhodes