45Km From Rhodes Town

Rhodes is a Greek island approximately 18 kilometres southwest of Turkey in the eastern Aegean Sea. It is the largest of the Dodecanese islands in terms of both land area and population, with a population of 117,007. Administratively the island forms a separate municipality within the Rhodes peripheral unit, which is part of the South Aegean Periphery. The principal town of the island and seat of the municipality is Rhodes. The city of Rhodes had 53,709 inhabitants in 2001.

Historically, Rhodes was famous worldwide for the Colossus of Rhodes, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. The medieval Old Town of the City of Rhodes has been declared a World Heritage Site. The major industry is tourism.

Rhodes Old Town

Rhodes Old Town

 

The citadel of Rhodes, built by the Hospitalliers, is one of the best preserved medieval towns in Europe which in 1988 was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The City of Rhodes is a popular international tourist destination.

The Knights Hospitallers captured and established their headquarters on Rhodes when they left Italy after the persecution of the Knights Templar in 1307. Pope Clement V confirmed the Hospitallers possession of the Island in 1309. The Knights remained on the Island for the next two centuries. In 1444, the Mamluk fleet of Egypt laid a siege to Rhodes, but the Knights aided by the Burgundian naval commander Geoffroy de Thoisy beat off the Muslim attack.

Palace of the Grand Master of the Knights

Palace of the Grand Master of the Knights

After the Fall of Constantinople in 1453 the Ottoman Empire began a rapid expansion and in 1480 Sultan Mehmet launched an invasion of Rhodes commanded by Mesic Pasha. The defenders repelled Turkish attacks from both landward and seaward sides and the invaders left the Island in defeat. The defeat halted a concurrent invasion of the Italian peninsula by Ottoman forces and prevented possible Muslim incursion and control of Western Europe.

After the Ottoman defeat in 1480 the Knights Grand Master, Fabrizio Del Carreto, oversaw the strengthening of the cities over the next few decades. By the time of his death in 1521 Rhodes possessed the strongest fortifications of any Christian Bastion in the World. The continued Naval attack launched from Rhodes on Muslim Merchants until 1522 the newly enthroned Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent led a second Siege of Rhodes (1522).

The vastly outnumbered Knights made a spirited defense of the city and inflicted heavy casualties upon the Ottoman besiegers. In December 1522 the Knights and Suleiman came to terms and the Knights were allowed to leave the city with all the wealth they could carry, in return there would be no retribution upon the inhabitants of the city and they would be allowed to continue to freely practice Christianity. On January 1, 1523 the Knights departed from the island, leaving it to Ottoman control.

The city is home to numerous landmarks. Some of them date back to antiquity and most of the others remain from the Knights’ Period.

  • Grand Master’s Palace (15th century)
  • Knights Street
  • Acropolis of Rhodes
  • Mosque of Suleiman the Magnificent
  • Ancient walls, created in the mid-14th century on a previous line and remade after the Ottoman siege of 1480 and the earthquake of the following year. In 1522 Suleiman entered the city from the gate of St. Anastasius
  • Gothic buildings in the historical upper town.
  • Recently, the Byzantine harbor was excavated, discovering unique medieval shipwrecks.