Municipal Theater “Το Ροδον”.

Municipal Theater “Το Ροδον”.

The Town Hall is well preserved and in its interior one can see original furniture. 

The building is accessible to the public and the tourist can grab the atmosphere of an Italian office building of the 40s with lots of shelves, archives, desks, chairs, etc. 

On the north side of City Hall Building (1, Efstathiadou str) stands the Municipal Theater “Ροδον, an open-air theater that stages lots of cultural events during the summer months.

“Palazzo della Forze Armate”.

“Palazzo della Forze Armate”.

c. Palazzo della Forze Armate.

On the south part of the Square is located the former “Palace of the Armed Forces” (“Palazzo della Forze Armate”). 

Today the building houses the Greek Police.

Palazzo del Governatore.

Palazzo del Governatore.

Across the street from Eleftherias Square, imposes the “Palazzo del Governatore”, built in 1927  by Florestano Di Fausto.

The building today houses the offices of the Prefecture of the Dodecanese. 

Since located on the beach, the “Palazzo del Governatore” is one of the first images of the city the visitor has, arriving from the sea.

Palazzo del Governatore seen from Kountourioti Square.

Palazzo del Governatore seen from Kountourioti Square.

❤The architecture of Florestano di Fausto was highly eclectic.

It grafted decorative elements from a variety of origins (Moorish domes, Venetian tracery, Gothic arches, and the clear, cuboid volumes of Aegean indigenous buildings) onto the framework of simple geometric forms favored by ‘Rationalist’ architecture.

It alternates in overall effect between a Crusader military purity at one extreme and an Oriental luxury at the other. Its most characteristic and architecturally courageous feature is the ‘sub merged’ arcade (a broad, generally Gothic arch, or series of arches, supported on very low, stunted columns, which give the impression of having sunk into the ground). The effect is not unpleasing, and accentuates breadth and horizontality over the soaring height customarily associated with the Gothic arch.

The origin of this idea lies in the lower arcade, of the "Palazzo Ducale” in Venice; but it is much exaggerated when it reappears in the port-side arcade of “Palazzo del Governatore”.💔

Palazzo del Governatore.  The north facede (top left).  The east facede (top right, bottom left).  West facede and arcade (righ middle/bottom).

Palazzo del Governatore.  The north facede (top left).  The east facede (top right, bottom left).  West facede and arcade (righ middle/bottom).

Metropolitan Church of the Annunciation.

Metropolitan Church of the Annunciation.

At the southern most tip of the Palazzo del Governatore you can see the "Church of San Giovanni" (Saint John), built between 1924 and 1925.  The church was designed by Di Fausto and Rodolfo Petracco and is a replica of an older, Hospitallers-era church located just opposite the entrance of the Palace in the Old town, which destroyed in 1856.

Currently the church is readapted internally to the Orthodox Faith. The perfectly preserved church, with its characteristic bell tower and its famed sarcophagi of the Great Magistrates, is now the Orthodox Metropolitan "Church of the Annunciation" (Ευαγγελισμός της Θεοτόκου).

Church of the Annunciation.

Church of the Annunciation.

(from top clockwise) Post Office, Port Authority, Bank of Greece, Courthouse.

(from top clockwise) Post Office, Port Authority, Bank of Greece, Courthouse.

Continue south on the main street of Mandraki (7th Martiou str) and on your right hand, just opposite the entrance of Church of the Annunciation, you see the "Main Post Office" (behind the post office are the police headquarters), the "Port Authority Building", and further down the "Courthouse" and the "Bank of Greece".

(top) The central Post Office and the Port Authority building. (bottom) Details of the Post Office facade.

(top) The central Post Office and the Port Authority building. (bottom) Details of the Post Office facade.

“Aktaion”.

“Aktaion”.

Between the Bank of Greece and the Courthouse stands the historical “Aktaion” (Ακταίον) cafe. 

❤Aktaion was founded during the Ottoman era as an Officer’s club.  The Italians in 1912 renamed the Club in “Circolo d ‘Italia” and it was used again as a Club of Italian Officers and State Senior Officials.  They altered the exterior of the building, so it suits the new Italian era.

From 1912 until 1948, all social events took place in the same Aktaion as today. In front of the Italian Club, in the area of ​​Mandraki, parades, musical events, major political, sporting, social and religious events took place, and every Sunday afternoon brides would meet potential suitors and they were then auctioned.

Thousands of young people,  children, elders and their families would go there every Sunday to take a walk, eat some ice cream – whilst the young boys would try to catch a hint, a nod or a smile from one of the girls from the villages.💔

“Aktaion”.

“Aktaion”.

❤Since 1948, all formal political speeches directed to the public, numerous literary, sporting and social events have been hosted at this historic center of Rhodos.

At the time of Liberation (March 31, 1947) and at the time of the incorporation of the Dodecanese islands with Greece (March 7, 1948), all events were centered and targeted at Aktaion, which is so loved and appreciated by the locals and the visitors.

The tree of the beautiful, large and historic courtyard of Aktaion, is also a historic monument. It is called Ficus Benjamina in Latin and “Syke” or “Mikra” in Greek. It was planted on Liberation Day as a reminder of the 5,000-year-old Hellenic Civilization in the Dodecanese!💔

The New Market seen from the Yachting club Cafe at Neorion Square.

The New Market seen from the Yachting club Cafe at Neorion Square.

Next to the Bank of Greece, and just before the medieval town’s walls, stands the huge hexagonal building of the “New Market” (Νέα Αγορά)

The New market built by the Italians at the place of the older Ottoman Market and features oriental elements and is painted in white and ochre-gold colors.

The New Market.

The New Market.

The polygonal white building, opposite the moored yachts and sail boats of the marina, is the work of Fausto and served as the fish market of Rhodos until 1990: it has an outdoor central courtyard where the old fish market was located in the giant gazebo with the fish decorations.  

The New Market of today is a remnant of the old glorious and spectacular market.  It is left in despair by the authorities and most of the shops have been closed or moved to more shopper attractive places. 

The Town Authorities are looking for a new investor who will renovate the market and make it the center of the city it used to be.    

The New Market main Entrance seen from the Yachting club Cafe in a rainy day.

The New Market main Entrance seen from the Yachting club Cafe in a rainy day.

A 20's picture taken from the bell tower of San Giovanni showing the promenade in front of of Mandraki port, where today moor the yachts.   At the end of the promenade you can see the New Market and in the background the Palace inside the Medieval Town walls.

A 20's picture taken from the bell tower of San Giovanni showing the promenade in front of of Mandraki port, where today moor the yachts. At the end of the promenade you can see the New Market and in the background the Palace inside the Medieval Town walls.

Yachts moored outside New market at Mandraki port.

Yachts moored outside New market at Mandraki port.

Across the street from the New Market is the old port called "Mandraki" separated from the outer commercial harbor by the fortified jetty where three windmills and the 15th century Tower of Saint Nicholas stand (at the end of it). 

Mandraki Port.

Mandraki Port.

One of the two deer standing at the endrance of Mandraki Port.

One of the two deer standing at the endrance of Mandraki Port.

The two deer, one male and the other female which stand on pillars at the entrance of the Mandraki port (harbor)were built by the Italians and symbolize the “platoni”, a local deer species. 

The legend says, that the famous "Colossus of Rhodes", one of the seven wonders of the ancient world, was standing at this same position, with his legs spread, so that the boats enter the port by sailing underneath this huge statue.

Between the New Market and the entrance of the Old Town is a shaded park area where, in the summer, street venders sell all kind of souvenirs and local products and portraitists wait to offer their services to the tourists sketching caricatures of them.

Having dinner at

Having dinner at "288 bar&wok" at Therme park.

In front of this park, there is a taxi station.

And this point (where it has started) ends your long architectural walk of the New Town.  What is the best way to finish your long day than having a good dinner at “Therme” (inside the Therme Park)?  "Therme" is advertised as the only “food entertainment park” … and it is exactly this. 

Under the same roof of a modern building, as well as outside in the park, under the lavish vegetation, there is a Chinese restaurant (288 bar&wok), a sushi bar (Rodos Susgi Sowbar), a meat restaurant, a bakery/café (Swedco Café) and much more.   

We dined at the place more than once, as it was very well located (just opposite our hotel), but also because the food is very good, the ambience great and the prices very good.

The platoni deer of Rhodos

The platoni deer of Rhodes.

The platoni deer of Rhodes.

❤For many years the platoni,  the little deer of Rhodos, that has been considered an emblem of the island, beautifies its forests and is a part of its tradition. It is one of the few deer species  in Europe that has survived until today.

There are many popular stories related to the growth and presence of the deer on the island. Many claim that the platoni came to the island of Rhodos with the arrival of the Crusaders. This theory has been correlated with other historical characteristics of the island. Rhodos is referred to in ancient texts as "Ofiusa" which means "having a lot of snakes". According to this theory the Crusaders, in order to protect their camps from snakes, brought the deer to be used as guards. Even though the deer does not hunt to kill snakes, as many believe, it is said that the antlers of the deer secrete an essence, a smell that annoys and drives snakes away. So, some of these animals which the Crusaders brought, escaped from the camps, hid in the forests and later created the existing population.

However, Rhodos is also referred to in ancient texts as "Elafousa" meaning that in those days it had many deer, which naturally existed on the island before all conquerors.

 Archaeological findings that indicate the existence of the deer in the East Aegean, are dated back to the 6th millennium BC.💔

The Colossus of Rhodes

One of the many representaions of

One of the many representaions of "Colossus of Rhodos".

❤The "Colossus of Rhodos" was built between 292 and 280 BC. The statue was a depiction of the Greek Titan Helios (The  Sun) and was meant to celebrate the Rhodian victory over the Demetrius Poliorketes (Demetrius the Βesieger) who unsuccessfully sieged the city in 305 BC.

At 30 meters high, the Colossus was one of the tallest statues of the ancient world. It only stood for 56 years until it was destroyed by an earthquake in 226 BC.

When the would-be conquerors οf Demetrius Poliorketes did not manage to conquer the city, left leaving behind much of their equipment. The Rhodians sold the equipment and used the money to build the Colossus  and also used brass and iron from this equipment to build the statue itself.  

The architect/sculptor of the Colossus was Chares of Lindos.

A gravure of the Colossus (from the series

A gravure of the Colossus (from the series "The Eighth Wonders of the World") after Maarten van Heemskerck, 1572. Today in the collection of the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam.

The "Statue of Liberty" in NYC has been referred to as the ‘Modern Colossus' and has more or less the same height as the ancient Colossus.  "The New Colossus” (1883), a sonnet by Emma Lazarus engraved on a bronze plaque and mounted inside the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty in 1903.

Ptolemy III, the king of Egypt, offered to pay for the Colossus' reconstruction, but the Rhodians refused. They believed that God Helios himself was angered by the statue and caused the earthquake that destroyed it.  The Rhodians were conquered by the Arabs in the 7th century A.D. The Arabs dismantled what was left of the Colossus and sold it as scrap metal. This is most probably the reason we haven't find any remnants of the statue till today.  

A gravure of the harbor-straddling Colossus.

A gravure of the harbor-straddling Colossus.

The harbor-straddling Colossus was a figment of medieval imaginations based on 14th centure texts noted the local tradition held that "the right foot had stood on land and the other in the sea". Many later illustrations show the statue with one foot on either side of the harbor mouth with ships passing under it. References to this conception are also found in literary works (e.g. Shakespeare's “Julius Caesar”).

While these fanciful images feed the misconception, the mechanics reveal that the Colossus could not have straddled the harbor as described above.

The Colossus of Rhodes, by Patrimonios Del Mundo.

The Colossus of Rhodes, by Patrimonios Del Mundo.

If the completed statue had straddled the harbor, the entire mouth of the harbor would have been effectively closed during the construction, and the ancient Rhodians did not have the means to dredge and re-open the harbor after construction. Even neglecting these objections, the statue was made of bronze, and engineering analyses indicate that it could not have been built with its legs apart without collapsing from its own weight.

While scholars generally agree that anecdotal depictions of the Colossus straddling the harbor's entry point have no historic or scientific basis, the statue's actual location remains a matter of debate. Some postulate that the Colossus was not located in the harbor area at all, but rather was part of the “Acropolis of Rhodes”, which stood on a hill that overlooks the port area.  Others believe that the statue was standing further south, outside the “Marine Gate” of the Medieval Town, or at the mouth of “Kolona-Fishing Harbor”.💔  

DAY 2

The Old Town

View of the medieval city of Rhodes.   (SANDRART, Jacob von. Nuremberg, Sandrart, 1687).

View of the medieval city of Rhodes.   (SANDRART, Jacob von. Nuremberg, Sandrart, 1687).

The "Old Town" is what we also call the "Medieval Town" (a rather misleading term, since the town is much older than the Middle Ages).

The visitor should not be deluded by the term "Medieval Town" into thinking that what he will see is a ruined and deserted city, such as Mystras in the Peloponnese. The Old Town of Rhodos is a bustling community of 5-6 thousands of residents, who live and work in the same buildings in which the Knights and the Ottomans lived.  This makes the Old Town a living monument, which is most probably unique in the world. This feature is what really amazes the visitor.

The Old Town continues today to be "divided" into the two parts which made it up in the time of the Knights: the northern part, the "Kollakio", which was the internal fortress of the Knights, and which contained the official buildings; and the larger southern part, called the “Chora”, where the Greeks, the Jews and the Europeans who were not members of the Order lived. These two descrete parts of the town were separated by a wall running approximately parallel to the line of Sokratous street.

During the years of Turkish occupation, the Greeks were expelled from the Old Town, which was the exclusive province of Turks and Jews. Greeks were allowed to enter only during daytime.

The cats of Rhodos

Greece is famous for the abundance of stray cats. An all-time classic souvenir from Greece, tourists bring back home, is the calendar with cat and/or kitten photos from Athens or the Greek islands: black cats, white cats, ginger cats, longhaired cats, shorthaired cats, cats of all sizes enjoying their tramp life under the mediterranean sun.

So, in this country we are very much used to see stray cats everywhere.  But, the number of cats I show during this trip in Rhodos is just astonishing!  Wherever you go, you are surrounded by cats.  

I dedicate these pictures to my friend Ioanna, who always complains that during my journeys I do not make pictures of cats to bring back home for her!

The Knights of Rhodos

Rhodos in 1487.

Rhodos in 1487.

❤Having been driven out of the Holy Land, the Hospitaller Knights of Jerusalem, led by the Grand Master Fulk de Villaret, went to Rhodos via Cyprus in 1309, occupying the island for over 200 years before the Turks expelled them.

The Knights built ramparts, churches and a great castle. This legacy of military glory appealed especially to Mussolini, who, in the course of a three-decade Italian occupation, completely restored the Old Town and landscaped it with brilliant gardens.

An Illustrated History of the Order of St John, the Knights Hospitaller, by Giacomo BOSIO. Published in Paris in 1659.

An Illustrated History of the Order of St John, the Knights Hospitaller, by Giacomo BOSIO. Published in Paris in 1659.

The Order of Knights of the Hospital of Saint John of Jerusalem, was a medieval Christian military order. It was headquartered variously in the Kingdom of Jerusalem, on Rhodos, in Malta, and is now headquartered in Rome. 

The Hospitallers, dedicated to John the Baptist, founded around 1023 by Gerard Thom to provide care for pilgrims coming to the Holy Land.

After the conquest of Jerusalem in 1099 during the First Crusade, the organisation became a religious and military order under its own Papal charter, charged with the care and defense of the Holy Land

The italian reconstruction wasn't always accurate, and was sometimes heavy-handed, but no matter. The result is right out of Hollywood: the most spectacular array of Crusader remains in all of the Levant, including four kilometers of robust fortifications, which even today amaze the visitor of its size and advanced military architecture.

After the fall of the Kingdom of Jerusalem in 1291, the order sought refuge in the Kingdom of Cyprus. Finding themselves becoming enmeshed in Cypriot politics, they created a plan of acquiring their own temporal domain, selecting Rhodos to be their new home. In 1310,  the city of Rhodos surrendered to the knights.

On Rhodos, the Hospitallers (now named the Knights of Rhodos) were forced to become a more militarised force, fighting especially with the Barbary pirates. They withstood two invasions in the 15th century, one by the Sultan of Egypt in 1444 and another by the Ottoman Sultan Mehmed the Conqueror in 1480.

In 1522, an entirely new fierce force arrived under the command of "Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent". Against this force, the Knights had much less men-at-arms and their fortifications. The siege lasted six months, at the end of which the surviving defeated Knights were allowed to withdraw to Sicily.💔

The fortification of the Old Town

The terreplein of England.

The terreplein of England.

What we most admire today in the Old City is its spectacular fortification.

❤Notwithstanding what most people think, the town was fortified with big walls long before the Knights arrived on the island. 

During the Hellenistic period (late 4th cent. BC), the town of Rhodos was already enclosed in defensive walls which allowed it to withstand the siege of Demetrius Poliorketes, in 305 BC.  The earthquake of 226 BC severely damaged the fortifications, but they were soon rebuilt. The Byzantines built a fortress on the highest part of the town (Kollakio).

Old Town north-west part of the walls.

Old Town north-west part of the walls.

When the Knights arrived to the island, started continuous works on the fortifications, both to include the new villages in the south of the historical Byzantine town and to update the fortification to the new military defensive techniques after the artillery started to be used as a siege means.

The expansion of the walls was undertaken by Grand Master Antonio Fluvian de Riviere who allowed the town of Rhodos to reach the current area of about 42 hectares. The walls finished in1465. The Byzantine fortifications were demolished leaving just a portion of those of the old fort known at that time as Kollakio.💔

Gate d’Amboise fortification.

Gate d’Amboise fortification.

Today, there are 11 gates to access the Old City. Some of them are ancient, some are modern. The ancient gate of Saint George was closed by the Grand Master d'Aubusson after the siege of 1480 and transformed it into a bastion.  

Starting from the Palace of the Grand Master (North-West) and moving anticlockwise, the gates are: Gate d’Amboise, Gate of Saint Athanasios (Saint Francis Gate), Gate of Saint John (Red Gate), Acandia Gate, Gate of Saint Catherine (Windmills Gate), Gate of the Virgin, Marine Gate, Arnaldo Gate, Gate of the Arsenal (Tarsana), Gate of Saint Paul, and Liberty Gate (Eleftherias). 

The fortifications also include two bastions: Bastion of Saint George and Bastion of Italy; two towers: Naillac Tower and Windmills tower; and three terreplein:  Terrepleins of Spain, of Italy and of England.

1988 Greek postage stamp of the Marine Gate.

1988 Greek postage stamp of the Marine Gate.

A long walk in the walled city

The fauna of Yachting Club café in a rainy day.

The fauna of Yachting Club café in a rainy day.

Start your day with a morning coffee at the Yachting Club café at Neorion Square and enjoy the views of the New Market, the Mandraki Port and the moored boats.

You need good trekking shoes to walk in the cobbled streets of Old Town, especially in winter wet months when streets can be very slippery.  You should also be prepared that all shops (there are 2-3 exceptions) are closed and it is difficult to find a place to dine or have a drink. 

PART 1: Kollakion

The Medieval Rose is a cultural organisation that was founded in 2005 in order to establish, organise and run the Medieval Festival οf Rhodes during which the history, the traditions and legends of Medieval Rhodes are recreated through happenings, workshops and games. The 1st Medieval Fair realised in 2006, and since then it is organised on a regular annual basis.  www.medievalfestival.gr/Eng/

The Medieval Rose is a cultural organisation that was founded in 2005 in order to establish, organise and run the Medieval Festival οf Rhodes during which the history, the traditions and legends of Medieval Rhodes are recreated through happenings, workshops and games. The 1st Medieval Fair realised in 2006, and since then it is organised on a regular annual basis.  www.medievalfestival.gr/Eng/

In order to better manage the tour of the Old Town, I decided to divide my long walk into three sections.  Every one of these sections roughly follows the old Ottoman division of the walled town:

a) Kollakion, which is the northern part of the town, bounded by Sokratous Street to the South. South of Kollakion is the part of the town called Chora and which is divided into two parts the Turkish and the Jewish quarters.

b) The Turkish quarter, which is the south-west part of the town, bounded by Sokratous Street to the north and Perikleous street to the east, and

c) The Jewish quarter, which is the easternmost part of the town.  This is the smallest part of the Old Town bounded by Perikleous street to the west and Akti Sachtouri to the north.   

The first part of the Old Town walk - The Kollakio walk.

The first part of the Old Town walk - The Kollakio walk.

“Eleftherias Gate” (Liberty Gate).

“Eleftherias Gate” (Liberty Gate).

Enter the walled city from “Eleftherias Gate” (Liberty Gate-Πύλη Ελευθερίας). 

The Gate was opened by the Italians in 1924, who portrayed themselves as liberators of the island from the Ottoman rule. 

The Gate allows the connection between the Kolona and Mandraki ports (harbors). Although it is a modern gate, it was built respecting the architectural style of the medieval gates. 

The Tarsana Gate (Arsenal Gate) and the “Kolona Harbor” just behind it.

The Tarsana Gate (Arsenal Gate) and the “Kolona Harbor” just behind it.

Having passed the Gate, you find yourself at “Simis Square” from where (on your left) you can take a glimpse of the “Kolona Harbor” ("Fishing Harbor") thru the "Tarsana Gate" (Arsenal Gate-Πύλη Ταρσανά).

This Gate was built during the 14th century by the Grand Master Juan Fernandez de Heredia, whose coat of arms stands on top of the gate.  In 1908 the Ottoman administration demolished the side towers to widen the access road to the Kolona Harbor. Today thanks to the direct connection with the Liberty Gate it allows a fast flow of vehicles between the Kolona Harbor and the New Town.

The “Kolona Harbor” (

The “Kolona Harbor” ("Fishing Harbor").

Comments

22.07.2019 15:19

Martha

The most concise article I have read about architecture in Rhodes! Congratulations.

03.02.2018 14:14

Paul Deneuve

Such a beautiful island!

25.01.2018 11:59

Ebrahim Nasser

I had a good laugh with your description of taxi driver's life at the Epilogue. Nice narration Kostas. Keep on entertaining us.

25.01.2018 11:56

Emily

We are planning to visit Rhodes this June. Cannot wait to see myself all these medieval buildings you describe.

25.01.2018 11:53

Manolis Tsakiris

The most comprehensive presentation of the Italian Buildings of Rhodes I have ever read online. Beautiful pictures.

05.01.2018 05:12

Robert Young

Wow... In my mind a Greek island was always little white houses by the blue sea. This place looks very different. Love the way you write. Thank you for sharing.