The

The "Muslim Library".

The "Muslim Library", founded by Hafiz Ahmed Agha in 1794, is just opposite the Mosque of Suleiman.  Presently, there are 1256 manuscripts in the possession of the library in the Turkish, Arab and Persian languages.

Among the most valuables exhibits is a 1540 beautifully illustrated copy of the Quran, a 1522 chronicle of the Turkish siege of the city, and several manuscripts with Persian miniatures. On the walls hang old maps and engravings of the town.

PART 2: The Turkish Quarter

The walk in the Turkish Quarter.

The walk in the Turkish Quarter.

Street in the turkish quarter.

Street in the turkish quarter.

From the Muslim library head south.   Ippodamou street, which is the street that ends to the “Gate of St. Athanasios”, takes you straight into the heart of the old Turkish Quarter of Chora (or “Chorio” or “Burgo”), that has lost almost nothing of its medieval color.   

The alleys and the houses of the Turkish quarter are very much as they were in the time of the Knights.  The arches, beneath which the road passes every now and then, were added by the Turks to provide protection against earthquakes, a rather often phenomenon in this part of the Aegean.  To the right of the street you see the “Church of St. Paraskevi” (Ναός Αγίας Παρασκευής), which is one of the most sizeable churges in old town.  The church was built in the late 15th c. and later, during the years of the Turkish rule, converted to a mosque (“Takkeci Cami”).

The “Sultan Mustafa Mosque”.

The “Sultan Mustafa Mosque”.

The first street to the left, just after the church, is Archelaou street, which leads to Arionos square

The square (and the streets around it) is full of bars and restaurants, which were all closed during our visit.   

The “Sultan Mustafa Mosque” is situated on the south of the square, within steps from the “Public Baths” (Yeni Hamam).  The Mosque is an ochre colored building, which continuous to function as a mosque and actually is the site for the celebration of weddings amongst members of the island’s Muslim community. The name and the year of construction of the building are provided by the inscription featured above the main entrance, reading “Benefactor Sultan Mustafa the III, son of the Victorious Sultan Ahmed, son of the Victorious Mehmet, 1178” (that is 1764 under the Christian calendar).

Arionos Square (top left) and detail of its fountain (bottom left).  The entrance to the  “Sultan Mustafa Mosque” (top right), the lane behind the mosque that leads to the theater of Folk Dances (middle right) and detail of the mosque facade (bottom right).

Arionos Square (top left) and detail of its fountain (bottom left).  The entrance to the  “Sultan Mustafa Mosque” (top right), the lane behind the mosque that leads to the theater of Folk Dances (middle right) and detail of the mosque facade (bottom right).

The Turkish Public Baths (hamam) in Old Town.

The Turkish Public Baths (hamam) in Old Town.

The Turkish Public Baths (hamam), which were erected in the 16th century, were operational until recently. Their construction was developed in two stages, with an addition for female bathers built in the 18th century.  The ottoman name under which the premises have always been known in Rhodos, “Yeni Hamam” means “New Baths”, although no other facility of similar use have been known to have existed within the Medieval Town of Rhodos.

The old Turkish custom says that when a couple was to get married, on the Friday before the wedding (which took place on Sunday) all the relatives and friends of the couple were provided with tickets for the baths, so that all could prepare themselves in a comrade atmosphere (with the two sexes separate, of course) for the ceremony to come. 

The entrance of the

The entrance of the "Yeni Hamam".

The entrance to the

The entrance to the "Theater of the Old City" in the background.

Continue to the lane that runs down from Arionos sq. between the mosque and the baths to the outdoor "Theater of the Old City" (Folk Dances Theater), where performances of folk dancing were taking place during the summer months.

Today, the place is shut down and thick vegetation has covered everything.    

The “Chruch of St.Athanasios”.

The “Chruch of St.Athanasios”.

At the entrance of the folk dance theater turn right and continue south.  Pass between the churches of “St. Nikolas” and “St. Vernardos” and follow Omirou street till you reach the “Chruch of St.Athanasios” (Ναός Αγίου Αθανασίου) and the fortifications of the Gate bearing the same name.

Although the architectural features and the blazons embedded in various parts of the construction (namely those of the Order of St. John and of Grand Master Fabrizio del Carretto) suggest the St. Athanasios church to be dating from the 16th century, there is historic evidence of the existence of an even earlier church on this very site. 

During the Ottoman rule, the church was converted into a mosque under the name of “Babi Mesdud”, meaning “the Mosque of the Closed Gate”.

The “Gate of Saint Atnanasios” seen from the moat.

The “Gate of Saint Atnanasios” seen from the moat.

The “Gate of Saint Atnanasios” is a gate elaborated with two towers: the "Tower of St.Mary" and the "Tower of St. Athanasios" and located between the "Terreplein of Spain" and the "Terreplein of England".

The Gate of Saint Athanasios was built between 1441 and 1442. It is also known to locals as "Saint Francis Gate" since the "church of Saint Francis of Assisi", built by the Italians, is located outside the gate.

The round tower of "Saint Mary" that controlled the entrance to the gate was built in 1441 by the Grand Master Jean de Lastic.

The

The "Tower of St. Athanasios".

According to Turkish narrative the troops of the conqueror Suleiman the Magnificent entered Rhodos through this gate.

The gate was closed by the sultan who wished to avoid that any other conqueror could pass after him.

It was re-opened by the Italians in 1922 during the 400th anniversary of the conquest of Rhodos by the Ottomans.

The

The "Church of Saint Francis of Assisi", built by the Italians, located outside the gate of Saint Athanasios.

At this point, you can divert from your tour in the Old Town and exit from Saint Athanasios Gate to visit “St Francis (of Assisi) Church”

Launched in 1936, under the Italian rule of the island, construction works on this church were brought to completion three years later. It continues to this day to function as the official parish church of the Roman Catholic Church of Rhodos.

One of the features worth noting about this church is the larger-than-life statue of St. Francis, standing in the outside area of the church as well as the recently refurbished belfry, from the top of which the views over the city and beyond are simply stunning.

The church of St. Francis has also made a reputation for its excellent acoustics, hence its frequent hosting of Sacred Music events.

Agiou Fanouriou str.

Agiou Fanouriou str.

Back inside the walled city. Take the street by the side of St. Athanasios church which continues behind it and walk along the walls till you reach Agiou Fanouriou str.  Agiou Fanouriou str. is one of the most picturesque streets in the Old Town.

Continue on the same street till you reach the church bearing the same name, the small Byzantine"Church of St. Fanourios"(patron saint of those searching for lost persons or things). The Turks used the church first as stables and later as a mosque (“Peyal Mescit Cami”). Some fine wall-paintings have been preserved under the Turkish plaster on the walls.  

The

The "Redzep Pasha Mosque”.

Pass by the church and turn right at Akousilaou str. and into Dorieos square. 

The square is dominated by the abandoned “Redzep Pasha Mosque”.  This mosque was built in 1588 (as the inscripton right above its entrance suggests), using materials from Byzantine and Order times, and was, in its days, the finest mosque on the island.

Its ablution fountain stands in front of it, and behind, in an archway with a vaulted roof, is the sarcophagus of Redzep Pasha himself.

The entrance of the

The entrance of the "Redzep Pasha Mosque” and the fountain in front of it.

The “The Walk Inn” restaurant.

The “The Walk Inn” restaurant.

The Redzep Pasha mosque is not the most interesting feature of the square. 

After having walked long in a deserted, rainy city with no open cafés or restaurants, the sound of 70s songs filling the square made us wonder if we were dreaming…. what we were experiencing was an acoustic “mirage”? 

We decided to trace the source of the music, you know by moving our ears back and forth, just like dogs do, and we realized it was coming from a multicolored restaurant/bar called “The Walk Inn”. 

The “The Walk Inn” restaurant.

The “The Walk Inn” restaurant.

To tell you the truth, we did not have great expectations.  Besides, till that time we believed it was our destiny to have no food at all that day! 

We entered a semi-dark small room with 4-5 tables, pictures of pop-stars hanging on the walls and several cats strolling around.  An old man was sitting at the bar having a beer and a short, restless, young man was moving behind the bar.  There was only one other couple sitting at the darkest corner of the room, having lunch. 

We ordered burgers (we were also offered the choice of having pizza) at the price of 6 euros each!  The low price made us suspicious, so you cannot imagine our delight when the burgers arrived and we had the first bite.  Just superb. 

After I finished my food I explored the place a bit:  there is a beautiful, multicolored yard with funky wall paintings and a summer semi-transparent tent made of cane, next to the main room/bar.  From the pictures hanging here and there, one could understand that the place is very popular during summer months and that there is also live music on site.  If we had more time, we would certainly come back to this joyfull restaurant.

The “Holy Trinity” church.

The “Holy Trinity” church.

Happy, content and with full stomach, take Omirou street passing just south of the “Redzep Pasha Mosque” and head east toward the “Gate of Saint John” (“Red Gate”) and then further north-east, via Arch. Efthimiou and Nikis Streets, to an open space (Leonidou Rodiou Square), in the middle of which stands a very interesting Byzantine church. 

This is the late 15th century church of the “Holy Trinity” (Ναός Αγίας Τριάδας), better known by its Turkish name of “Dolapli Cami”.  Some of the original frescoes that once decorated its interior have been preserved – namely, sections of Ezekiel prophetic vision, the Society of Disciples, the Co-Officiating Fathers of the Church, the Ascension, the ecstasy of St. Peter of Alexandria, the Sacrifice of Abraham, scenes from the life of Jesus, His Crucifixion, Genesis, the Second Coming, etc.

Τhe “Gate of Saint John” (“Red Gate”).

Τhe “Gate of Saint John” (“Red Gate”).

PART 3: The Jewish Quarter

The Walk in the Jewish Quarter.

The Walk in the Jewish Quarter.

Walk east along Triptolemou street and then north along Tavriskou street to the heart of the Jewish Quarter (La Juderia) and the Synagogue.  The Sephardic “Kahal Shalom Synagogue” (or "Beit HaKnesset Kahal Kadosh Shalom", meaning Synagogue of the Holy Congregation of Peace), which is the oldest synagogue in Greece today.      

Article in

Article in "Il messaggero di Rodi" on July 23, 1944.   (Picture from "Jewish Museum of Rhodes" archives).

❤There has been a Jewish presence in Rhodos for thousands of years.  They were, at times, persecuted by Romans, the Knights, and other rulers of the islands.

During Ottoman rule, however, the Jews of Rhodos prospered, and many expelled Sephardim (from Spain) settled on the island, particularly in the city of Rhodos, where they built many synagogues. The Kahal Shalom Synagogue was constructed in 1577 and has been in use ever since. The synagogue and its worshipers prospered under Ottoman rule into the twentieth century.

However, the Kingdom of Italy took over the Dodecanese Islands in 1912, and large numbers of the Jews of Rhodos begun to emigrate during the 1930s, as they felt menaced by the Fascist Italian regime. When the Italian Fascist government fell, the Island came under direct German control in 1943, and more than 1,550 of the remaining 1,700 Jews were deported and met their deaths in concentration camps, largely putting an end to the use of Kahal Shalom.

Kahal Shalom was the only of the four synagogues in "La Juderia" at the time to survive the bombing during the WWII. Today, Kahal Shalom is only used for services during the summer, when there is an influx of Jewish tourists and as the headquarters for the "Jewish Museum of Rhodes".

http://www.rhodesjewishmuseum.org/ 💔

Archaeological excavations at La Judeira.

Archaeological excavations at La Judeira.

Continue north till you reach the Evreon Martyron str. (Pindarou str.); then turn right and walk till the “Church of Agios Panteleimonas”, which is adjacent to the outer fortification walls close to  “Gate of Saint Catherine”. 

❤This Christian Orthodox church is still functional as a parish church. In its prime version, it used to be a single-nave construction, later enriched with a series of additions that gave it its actual shape. The church was somehow spared the havoc of air raids during WWII, unlike the best part of the Jewish Quarter which turned into rubbles.

Decorative features throughout and about the church suggest that it was built sometime in the 15th century. Interestingly, this is one of those very few exceptions of Christian places of cult not converted into mosques during the years of the Ottoman rule.

 The dedication of the church to St. Panteleimon has been historically corroborated by the decision of the Order to have two churches erected in this area, in commemoration of the successful deterrence of the first Ottoman siege, lifted on the name day of St. Panteleimon. Part of that resolution was that the other church would be that of Panagia tis Nikis (Our Lady of the Victory).💔

Due to the heavily bombing, there are still undeveloped open spaces in the area, where archaeological excavations revealed Hellenistic and Byzantine buildings and part of the ancient port. 

The

The "Knights Hospice of St. Catherine".

The beautifully restored “Knights Hospice of St. Catherine” dominates the area. 

The Hospice is a two-storey guesthouse built in 1391-92, under Grand master Heredia, by the Italian Domenico d’Allemagna, admiral of the Order.  The Hospice, exclusively intended for eminent guests of the Order, was already in use in 1394 when traveler Niccole di Martoni described it as “beautiful and splendid, with many handsome rooms containing many and good beds”. 

The building was apparently destroyed in the siege of 1480 and the earthquake of 1481.  Its rebuilding, as testified by the heraldry on the west façade, was completed in 1516. 

The entrance of

The entrance of "Knights Hospice of St. Catherine", at Thiseos Str.

In 1944 the east part of Hospice was destroyed by Allied bombing, along with many other buildings in the heart of the Jewish quarter. 

In the following years, the surviving part stood forlorn in the deserted neighborhood.  It was occupied by poor immigrants from neighboring islands until 1986, in slum conditions. 

The monument restored in the years 1989-1997 by the Ministry of Culture. 

You can enter the building (free of charge) during the summer months.

"The Virgin of the Burgh".

You turn back to the Evreon Martyron street and walk westwards, pass under two arcades and by many souvenir shops (all closed during our visit) to reach the remains of the 14th century Gothic church of "The Virgin of the Burgh" (Our Lady of the City - Saint Marie du Burg).  The church was the largest Catholic church in Rhodos (30 meters by 18).

❤Built sometime during the rule of the Grand Master Villeneuve (1319-1346), the construction was later, during the Knights era, to be endowed with six chapels and some seven vaulted tombs, encrusted within the northern wall of the church. During the Italian rule, restoration works were launched, freeing the original site, through the expropriation and razing of various homes allowed therein in the previous century.💔

The church bombed during the WWII and only parts of it remains. Restoration works on this picturesque site are still under way whilst musical events have been hosted on these premises.

"The Virgin of the Burgh".  East Wall (left) and West Wall (right).

The “Gate of the Virgin” seen from

The “Gate of the Virgin” seen from "The Virgin of the Burgh" church (top), and the view of "Naillac Tower" and "Windmills Tower" thru it (bottom).

Just opposite the "The Virgin of the Burgh" you can take a glimpse of the port thru the “Gate of the Virgin”, namely the two towers standing at its entrance: Naillac and Windmills towers.

This Gate is a modern gate, envisaged in the town master plan by the Italian administration to allow vehicle traffic, but opened only in 1955 by the Greek administration.  

“Square of the Hebrew Martyrs”.

“Square of the Hebrew Martyrs”.

Continue your walk towards the same direction and after some meters you arrive at the “Square of the Hebrew Martyrs” (Platia Evreon Martiron), with its attractive little fountain, decorated with rows of shells, starfish, octopuses and other sea creatures, set on blue tiles and coronated by three large metallic sea-horses.

The square named in the memory of the approximately 2000 Jews, who were assembled here before being shipped to Nazi concentration camps, from which only a very few of them ever returned.

The square and the surrounding streets are full of shops and restaurants during high season.

The “Square of the Hebrew Martyrs” fountain.

The “Square of the Hebrew Martyrs” fountain.

The

The "Admiralty" (on the left of the picture).

The building whose front is on the north side of the square is the “Palace of the Admirals” or "Admiralty", dating from the 15th century.  The construction time has been suggested on the basis of a reference by Rottiers, a famous traveler of his time, who did mention the presence of a blazon (still seen today)  of Grand Master Pierre d’Aubusson at the terrace of the inner courtyard of this palace.  

Although the premises still called the “Admiralty”, a series of recent findings seem to overturn such original assumption, suggesting instead that the building had been the residence of the Greek Orthodox Bishop before the Turkish occupation.  Although spaced in time and nature, restoration works about this building, launched already at the time of the Italian rule, continue to this day whereas certain areas within the construction are used as storage rooms for parts of the island’s History Archive.

The north side of “Ippokratous Square”.

The north side of “Ippokratous Square”.

Continue west, on Aristotelous street, for a couple of blocks and you find yourself in what is most probably the prettiest and most spectacular square of the Old Town: “Ippokratous Square”. 

In the center of the square stands an ornamental fountain with a characteristic sculpture of an owl on the top of it. 

Ippokratous Square is one of the busiest and much photographed spots in the Medieval Town and a reference point for both visitors and locals, who entertain themselves in the abundance of its restaurants, cafes, bars and other shops.

Ippokratous Square in a gray winter day.

Ippokratous Square in a gray winter day.

The grand staircase of Castellania.

The grand staircase of Castellania.

The fountain along with a grand staircase at the east side of the square, is the only remaining evidence of the "Castellania", an important building constructed by the Knights in the 14th c. as a commercial center. The ground floor was used for transactions between traders, and the upper floor for the court where their disputes were tried. Later, the building converted by the Turks into a fish market, with a mosque on the upper floor. 

Just opposite Castellania stands the “Chadrevan Cami” mosque ("Fountain Mosque"). 

Castellania Library (The central Public Library).

Castellania Library (The central Public Library).

The "Castellania Library" (today, The central Public Library), which is a treasure trove of ancient books and documents is housed in Epavlis Mansion (at the beginning of Aristotelous street) and features a music department and exhibition space along with the library tomes.

It is also at Ippokratous Square that Sokratous Street, one of the most popular commercial streets on the island, begins.

“Ibrahim Pasha Cami”.

“Ibrahim Pasha Cami”.

To the south of Ippokratous square, Pythagoras str. leads off to “Ibrahim Pasha Cami” mosque. 

Located right at Sofokleous square, among restaurants, tavernas and cafes, the Ibrahim Pasha Cami continues to function to this day. 

The fountain (bottom left) and the entrance (bottom) of “Ibrahim Pasha Cami”.

The fountain (bottom left) and the entrance (bottom) of “Ibrahim Pasha Cami”.

❤The inscription featured above the mosque's main entrance bears witness to the date of its construction in 1540, which makes it one of the earliest Muslim monuments in the Medieval Town of Rhodos. “This new and handsome mosque, on Hejaz street, was commissioned by Sultan Suleiman, son of Sultan Selim the Victor. May God protect him from all evil. May all those entering the site be safe. Hegira year 947”.

 Two porches, succeeded by a 12 square meters hall constitute the area of worship. The building’s interior, austere and unpretentious in its decoration, contrasts the general trend for flamboyance of Muslim monuments, hence its approximation to the style adopted for “Reçep Pasha Mosque” (the latter being, nevertheless, off limits to visitors of the Medieval City). The minaret had over the centuries suffered serious decay, until the ‘30s, where restoration works were commissioned under the Italian rule.💔

Marine Gate leads you from the walled city out to Kolona harbor.

Marine Gate leads you from the walled city out to Kolona harbor.

Turn back at Ippokratous Square and, after walking a few meters north, get out of the Old Town via the "Marine Gate" ("Harbor Gate"), which is flanked by two tall cylindrical bastions.

This Gate is perhaps the most spectacular of all the gates to the castle, and that’s not a surprise: this gate is what the visitors (coming from the sea) would firstly see arriving at the Harbor, and they should be impressed and overwhelmed by its splendor.

As can be seen from engravings of past centuries, the sea used to run up to a point directly beneath the gate.

❤ Marine Gate was constructed in 1478, under the auspices of Grand Master Pierre d’ Aubusson, in what is a series of deliberate resemblances to the main Gate to the town of Villeneuve- lès-Avignon, built two centuries earlier.

The exterior of the Marine Gate.

The exterior of the Marine Gate.

On the front side of the Gate there are featured in relief the effigies of the Virgin holding the Holy Infant, St. John the Baptist and St. Peter. Also featured are the coats of arms of France, of the Order of St. John as well as the blazon of the House of d’Aubusson. Moreover, a heavily worn inscription may still be seen, acknowledging Grand Master d’Aubusson for the commissioning of this Gate, in 1478. On the inner side of the Gate there may be seen yet another inscription and the effigy of an Angel brandishing the coats of arms of the Order as well as of the House of d’Aubusson.

Virgin holding the Holy Infant, St. John the Baptist and St. Peter on the front side of the Marine Gate.

Virgin holding the Holy Infant, St. John the Baptist and St. Peter on the front side of the Marine Gate.

The interior of the towers is structured in three levels of vaulted halls. There are two halls of different sizes on the lower level, two hexagonal halls on the middle level and two rectangular halls on the third level of each tower. On top of each one of such towers there used to stand the defense module, featuring a sequence of machicolations (devices through which burning oil used to pour down to the assailants at the level of the Gate), providing coverage for both the outer and the inner side of the Gate. During the Italian rule, the entire port structure developed by the Ottomans was eliminated.💔

Kolona Harbour and the Marine Gate during the Ottoman rule.

Kolona Harbour and the Marine Gate during the Ottoman rule.

The Fishing harbor (Kolona).

The Fishing harbor (Kolona).

You are now outside the walls, at Akti Sachtouri. Start walking north, along the sea front, to admire the high walls on your left and the fishing boats on your right.

From this point you have a full view of the Kolona Port and the two towers: the "Tower of France" (Tower of the Windmills) to the east and the "Tower of Naillac" to the north-east.

Pass outside the "Arnaldo Gate" and the "Gate of the Arsenal" and finally enter (from its port entrance) to the “Saint Paul Gate.

The

The "Arnaldo Gate".

This Gate was built in the second half of the 15th century to allow the direct access to the Kolona Port from the north, without having firstly to enter into the city.

The Gate of Saint Paul was almost completely demolished during WWII and was rebuilt together with Marine Gate in 1951.

Naillac Tower was built between 1396 and 1421 by the Grand Master Philibert de Naillac before the development of the cannons on the mole east of the Gate of Saint Paul that closes the commercial harbour. It had a square shape like many other medieval towers and was 46 m high. It was the terminal of the wall belt facing the harbour and was used as a watch tower. It was severely damaged during earthquakes of the 19th century and was demolished by the Ottoman administration.  Today only its base remains.

Naillac Tower was built between 1396 and 1421 by the Grand Master Philibert de Naillac before the development of the cannons on the mole east of the Gate of Saint Paul that closes the commercial harbour. It had a square shape like many other medieval towers and was 46 m high. It was the terminal of the wall belt facing the harbour and was used as a watch tower. It was severely damaged during earthquakes of the 19th century and was demolished by the Ottoman administration.  Today only its base remains.

The

The "Windmills Tower" is also known as "Tower of France" or "Tower of the Angel". It was one of the two towers protecting the Commercial harbour ("emporium").  It was built on the natural mole East of the harbour by the Grand Master d'Aubusson who had the coat of arms of France placed on the tower (hence one of its names). On the mole there were originally 13 windmills. Today only two are left (reconstructed).

The

The "Saint Paul Gate".

❤The "Saint Paul (the Apostle) Gate" connects the Mandraki and Kolona Ports, bypassing the Old Town. 

A semi-cylindrical tower in the inner part of walls bears a marble sculpture of the coats of arms of the House of Grand Master d’Aubusson right next to those of the Order and Pope Sixtus IV.  Right above theese coats of arms appears the effigy of Paul the Apostle. 

 A common feature amongst this Gate, the Agios Athanasios Gate and the d’Amboise Gate is the drawbridge, which could move up and down through a system of beams and counterweights.💔

The interior of

The interior of "Saint Paul Gate".

You pass through the gate and exit from the front entrance which is almost adjacent to "Liberty Gate". 

This is where your long walk in the Old Town started and here it ends.   

The entrance of the

The entrance of the "Auverge" restaurant.

You must feel tired and hungry after all this walking. You need a cozy place to relax and enjoy a nice meal. 

The best choice you have for dinning in the area is the “Auvergne” Café/restaurant. 

Auvergne is a very atmospheric place in the walled city, just next to the “Lady of the Castle” church. Its wonderful garden has a very tall and old tree in the middle of it.  It is the ideal place for relaxing during days or nights, and the place to enjoy either your coffee and drinks or your lunch and dinner. 

We were really tired and wet from the rain when we arrived at the restaurant.  The garden was covered for winter and it was warm and cozy.  The Christmas decorations gave to the place that happy mood of the festive days. 

We ordered a Caesar’s salad with avocado as a starter and then “chicken with pesto & cherry tomatoes” and "pork fillet in wine sauce".  The portions were huge and the prices very reasonable.

www.auvergnecafe.gr

DAY 3 

Beyond the Town

Bucolic landscape at Monte Smith.

Bucolic landscape at Monte Smith.

The last day on the island we decided to take it easy.  We did lots of walking the previous two days and we needed some relax. 

So, we decided to visit two places outside the town:  the "Acropolis of Rhodos" (which is actually in the Town of Rhodos) and "Kalithea Springs"

For both little escapes we used a taxi. There were buses available, but since it was winter and New Year’s Eve, buses did not run often. 

The Acropolis of Rhodos

The view from the highest point of the Acropolis of Rhodos towards the sea.

The view from the highest point of the Acropolis of Rhodos towards the sea.

The Acropolis of Rhodos is located just west of the Old Town and only 3 kilometers from the center of New Town and our hotel. 

The taxi took us at the west part of the archeological site, which is the highest point of the area, for 4 euros.  The idea was to start walking through the archeological site from the highest point to its lower part and continue walking towards the city. 

Moreover, the residential area between the Acropolis and the Old Town walls (St Athanasios Gate) is nice and there are several beautiful old houses and mansions, which survived the chaotic development of the island, to admire.

It was a very beautiful, sunny and bright morning when we visited.  Lush vegetation covered the fields around the buildings.   Sheep were grazing among olive trees.  Greece at its best.  

Note: I should mention our taxi driver, who was very kind and on our way to the archeological site told us interesting things about the area and not just about the area.  He left us on site, but after we walked back to Town and we looked again for a taxi to drive us to Kalithea, by coincidence it was the same driver whom we picked up.  He was so kind to wait for us, while we strolled around Kalithea Springs, to take us back. He even detoured on our way back (at no extra cost) to show us around.

The "Acropolis of Rhodos" is an acropolis dating from the Classical Greek and Hellinistic period (5th–2nd century BC).  It was not fortified like most ancient acropoleis.

The Acropolis consisted of a monumental zone with Sanctuaries, large temples, public buildings and underground cult places. The buildings were built on stepped terraces supported by strong retaining walls. It was "full of fields and groves", in the words of the 2nd c. AD orator Ailios Aristides. 

Today, the reconstructed part of the site consists mainly of the "Temple of Apollo", below which is a "Stadium" and an "Odeon" (small theatre).  There are other buildings in the area, but are less “impressive” and tourists usually sidestep them. 

All these stand in a large and well-maintained park, called "Monte Smith", named after the English admiral William Sidney Smith.  During the Italian occupation of the island, the area (hill) used to called "Monte San Stefano".

The original excavation was carried on by the Italian School of Archaeology from 1912-1945.

Following WWII, the Greek Archaeological Service took over excavation and restoration of the ruins. This included extensive reconstruction of the Temple of Pythian Apollo, which was extensively damaged by bombing and artillery installed there during the WWII. Excavation began in 1946 and continues today in the acropolis archaeological park, which covers 12,500 square meters, and is protected from any new construction. 

The

The "Temple of Pythian Apollo".

The Acropolis is situated on the highest part of the city. The monuments were built on stepped terraces, with substantial retaining walls. The first monument you see when you arrive at the western part of the park is the "Temple of Pythian Apollo". It is a poros peripteral orientated E-W temple.

Part of the NE side has been restored: four columns and part of the architrave.  Unfortunately there is a lot of scaffolding around it, which prevents you from admiring it. 

There is also one bigger temple within the boundaries of the archeological park, namely, the "Temple of Athena Polias and Zeus Polieus", which stands about half kilometer to the north of the Temple of Pythian Apollo. 

The Temple of Athena Polias and Zeus Polieus is orientated E-W and was a poros Doric peripteral temple (having a columned portico on all four sides). Four oversize column drums and parts of a capital and architrave still to be seen on the site are an indication of its original monumental character. This was where the Rhodians kept the texts of their treaties with other states. The temple stood in a larger temenos bounded by a stoa on the east. 

This temple is usually left out of a tourist walk, since it is not restored to the extent that would make it attractive to visitors.

The

The "Odeon".

From the Temple of Apollo, start walking toward the east till you meet a large rectangular terrace and a staircase that leads to the upper part of the "Odeon". This small marble theatre held approximately 800 spectators. It is believed to have been used for musical performances and rhetoric lessons of prominent Rhodians. It has been restored to its original size and beauty.

Walk down the Odeon stands, cross the orchestra and you find yourself at an open place, which used to be occupied by the "Stoa".  The impressive façade of the Stoa was visible from far away, even from the harbor. Unfortunately, today just one foundation wall of it remains.  

The

The "Odeon".

The

The "Stadium".

South of the Stoa stretches the "Stadium". Located on the southeast side of the hill, the impressive 210-metre north-south Stadium was initially restored by the Italians.  Its surviving features include the sphendone (rounded end with turning post), proedries (officials' seats), and some of the lower seats in the auditorium (spectators seating). The starting mechanism used in the athletic events has also been preserved. Athletic events of the Heleion Games, honoring Helios, were held here.

Yes, I was at the stadium, too.

Yes, I was at the stadium, too.

Kallithea Springs

The entrance to

The entrance to "Kallithea Springs".

"Kallithea Springs", located at the bay of Kallithea, just 9 km from the City of Rhodos, is a very popular spot attracting visitors from all over the world during summer.  There is an entrance fee to the premisies (3 euros) and it is easily reached by bus or boat during summer months.  When we visited, it was a bit tricky to go there by bus, so we took a taxi.  It costs 14 euros one-way, but you better ask the driver to wait for half an hour or so to take you back.  That means you need 30 euros, more or less.  

Note: Taxis in Rhodos charge a fixed price to take you to destinations outside the town. 

www.kallitheasprings.gr

The fountain at the entrance of

The fountain at the entrance of "Kallithea Springs".

Since the place during winter is deserted and there is not even a café open to have a coffee or a refreshment, it is not worth going; unless, like us, you are interested into the architecture of the springs.  In this case the visit is a must. 

In contrary, during summer months, there is an onsite café/restaurant (called "Pane di Capo") and even a scuba diving school at the premises.  The waters are very sparkling clear, but the visitor must have in mind that there are no sandy beaches here, only beautiful rocky beaches.

The small Rotunda of the Springs.

The small Rotunda of the Springs.

The thermal springs of Kallithea, were well known since the Ancient Greece times for the beneficial properties of their waters springing up from the surrounding rocks. Crowds of visitors were coming to the area and they were even setting up camps in the surrounding area, so as to be close to the springs.

Decorations on the exterior of the small Rotunda.

Decorations on the exterior of the small Rotunda.

The six springs in the small Rotunda.

The six springs in the small Rotunda.

Since the time of the Dorian Hexepolis 700 BC and later during the times of the Knights of Saint John, the springs were attracting visitors from the surrounding islands, the Asian Coast, the middle east and even from the depths of the Orient being a meeting place of Orthodox Christians, Muslims and Jews.  

The dome of the small Rotunda.  The exterior (inset) and the stars made of blue glass seen from the inside.

The dome of the small Rotunda.  The exterior (inset) and the stars made of blue glass seen from the inside.

The big Rotunda.

The big Rotunda.

During the Italian occupation of the island of Rhodos, at the early 20th century the political governor Mario Lago, took the initiative in 1927, to conduct a systematic study of its waters known to the locals as “Tsillonero” after it’s cleansing properties. The survey was conducted by distinguished hydrologists and doctors under the supervision of the famous Gustavo Gasperini. After Gasperini’s death his son Carlo took over his work, along with the person who was later to become the director of the curative springs, Enea Brunetti.

The big Rotunda.

The big Rotunda.

In December 1928 the initial premises were constructed. The work was assigned to the architect Pietro Lombardi whose designs made it one of the best architectural creations of the period.

The premises were inaugurated on 1 July 1929 attracting a large number of patients and scientists from all over the world.

The big Rotunda.

The big Rotunda.

The premises were kept in good condition and operational till 1967.  After that the area fell in despair.  The doors to the springs reopened on the 1st of July 2007, after years of work by the Kallithea town council, now welcoming visitors to the magical areas of the beautifully renovated premises situated beside the sea with a unique combination of nature, architecture and history.  

The big Rotunda.

The big Rotunda.

Scene from the film

Scene from the film "To Doloma" shot at "Kallithea Springs".

Several films were filmed in the area, but the place is known to all Greek cinephiles  for the final scene of the 1964 cult film "To Doloma" (screened abroad with the titles «The bait» or «Aces of Spades») staring Aliki Vougiouklaki, the “national greek” actress. 

The plot is simple: an expert card game hustler, a beautiful woman, and their smooth friend, try to "con" wealthy tourists; but the film gives the Greek diva the opportunity of a grand come back with the favorite studios of the time “Finos Film”.  The film considered provocative for that time, but was a huge commercial success and everyone was crooning the main song of the film: “I like boys” (“Mou aresoun ta agoria”).

The song "I like boys". From the film "To doloma".

The photo exhibition of films shot around Kallithea Springs.

The photo exhibition of films shot around Kallithea Springs.

There is a small (and rather neglected) exhibition at the premises, with pictures of films shot in the area and on the island in general, namely “The Guns of Navarone”, “Escape to Athena”, “Pascali’s Island”, etc

Epilogue

It was in New Year’s Day, at noon, when we took a taxi to bring us to the airport for our short flight back to Athens.

Nothing unusual till the moment the taxi driver opened his mouth:  “this is my last drive for today, I must go back home otherwise my girlfriend will kill me”.   We just grinned casually, but that was encouraging enough for him to start his brisk and detailed narrative of his boisterous life:  A marriage; an adulteress wife, who ran away with her lover; her lover an ex-cop, whom the taxi driver liked very much, but who was unlucky and died early, so his wife came back home; two kids, now in their mid 20s, who call their mother names; a Romanian girlfriend ex-handball-player strong and very tall, who works in a night club and lives with her mother; him (the taxi driver) a short dark man in his late 50s, who shares his time between the two houses and takes care of everyone in these houses because this is what “real men” do; and his girlfriend admirers and would be lovers, whom the taxi driver beats to death because this is how a real man “defends his dignity”. 

Listening to him, I realized that his life story epitomizes the whole modern urban history of this beautiful but decadent country… not morally decadent, but ethically, culturally and politically decadent country.

The drive to the airport should last 15 minutes… it took us double as much, since the story was long.     

Useful External links

Colosus of Rhodes.

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.