According to physicscat, the upper part of the old town has one of the most beautiful Gothic ensembles in Greece. The lower town shows a unique combination of Gothic and Ottoman architecture. The legacy of the Order of St. John can be seen in the Knight’s Hospital and the Grand Master’s Palace, the Auvergne Knights’ hostel, the city wall and the Church of St. Mary.
|Official title:||Rhodes, medieval city|
|Meaning:||medieval Rhodes, among others. with the palace of the Grand Master of the Order of St. John on the remains of the Byzantine Acropolis, with the hostel of the Knights of Auvergne, with the three-aisled St. Mary’s Church and the city wall with more than 150 inset coats of arms of the Grand Master of the Order of St. Thalassiní Gate and the “Tower of the Italians”|
|Location:||Old town of Rhodes, on the northern tip of the island of Rhodes|
|Meaning:||Upper town as one of the most beautiful Gothic ensembles, lower town as a harmonious combination of Gothic and Ottoman architecture|
|408 BC Chr.||historical foundation date|
|3rd-2nd Century BC Chr.||Composition of the Acropolis with the temples of Athena Polias and Zeus Polieus, the Odeion|
|1306||Landing of the first Knights of St. John on Rhodes|
|1309||under the rule of the Knightly Order of St. John of Jerusalem (now known as the Order of Malta)|
|1476-1505||under the Grand Master Pierre d’Aubusson, the city wall was completely rebuilt|
|1480||Siege by the fleet and army of Sultan Mohammed|
|1515-17||Construction of the “Tower of the Italians”|
|December 26, 1522||Sultan Suleyman the Magnificent offers the Crusaders free retreat|
|1523-1912||under Turkish rule|
|1856||Destruction of the Grand Master’s Palace by an explosion|
|1911/12||Italo-Turkish war and subsequent Italian occupation|
|1912-43||Excavation of the Acropolis by Italian archaeologists|
|1940||Reconstruction of the Grand Master’s Palace|
|1988||extensive restoration of the Grand Master’s palace|
|1993||Exhibition “Rhodes – 2400 Years” in the former Grand Master’s Palace.|
|1996||Restoration of the Temple of Apollo and the Nymphaeum|
Middle Ages in the Levant
Just as spectacular as it was when arriving ships entered the port through the spread legs of the more than 30 meter high bronze figure of the torch-bearing Helios, one of the Seven Wonders of the World, the approach to Rhodes City from the sea is no longer today. The famous “Colossus of Rhodes” has disappeared. However, the peaks of the Grand Master’s Palace, visible from afar, give a first hint of an old town, which, in its closedness and diversity, clearly shows the end of the Middle Ages like hardly any other.
The wall ring that surrounds the old city extends over four kilometers. Starting from the Byzantine city walls, the Order of St. John, who settled on the island of Rhodes at the beginning of the 14th century, had the existing fortifications reinforced with powerful bastions, loopholes inserted and the moats widened. The large number of coats of arms – such as the one decorated with the double lion by Grand Master Guy de Blanchefort as well as the one with the St. Andrew’s Cross by Raymond Béranger – which are embedded in the masonry testify that this masterpiece of fortress architecture has been worked on for generations. The fortress builders of the Johanniter were experts in their field, even if – as so often in history – their Christian bulwark was finally overcome.
During the presence of the knights of the order, the city developed not only into a fortress against the increasing threat of Turkish expansion, but also into an economic and cultural center that exerted considerable influence in the eastern Mediterranean. At the time of the controversial religious fighters, the city was divided into two parts, a smaller part, the actual knight’s city – called “castrum” – and a southern part, the actual residential and trading district – both separated from each other by a wall.
Due to numerous battles for the city and devastating earthquakes, many of the medieval buildings were destroyed, but it is thanks to the Italian occupation that you can relive medieval city life in Rhodes to this day. Best of all, the old Ritterstrasse, which has been largely reconstructed, revives the time of the Knights of the Order, who came from different Christian countries, were responsible for the defense of a section of the city depending on their “tongue” and – depending on their origin and language communities – in hostels or Courtyards lived together. The various hostels such as those of the Knights of Auvergne, strictly structured and provided with arched arcades, today form the only closed residential street of the late Middle Ages that has been preserved in the most beautiful late Gothic style. The order hospital from the 15th century refers to the original task of the Johanniter: the care and care of sick people who were on their way to the holy places of Jerusalem as pilgrims. The Grand Master’s Palace with its impressive dimensions of 80 by 75 meters and its crenellated towers is undoubtedly the sign of the order’s power and the ruling complex of the knightly city.
The trading quarter, from which all trade on the island was once carried out and in which the city’s Jews also lived, has an oriental feel with its traces from the Turkish period – such as the remains of mosques. The encapsulation to the outside typical of Turkish houses and the emphasized turning towards the inside through the structural grouping around an inner courtyard can be found everywhere. Even if almost covered by the tourist bustle, the cobblestone streets, partly spanned by street arches, old fountains and shady squares, Byzantine churches next to unused mosques, create a flair that unites eastern and western elements and is reminiscent of the cultural mix of the past.