The Bride of the Sun

The island of Rhodes, the nymph of the god Helios (Sun) according to the myth, lies at the Eastern Aegean Sea. The city of Rhodes was established in 408 BC, at the Northern part of the island, as a result of the “merger" of the three ancient cities of the island, Kamiros, Ialysos and Lindos, after the initiative of Olympic athlete Dorieus, son of Diagoras.

HIPPODAMIAN URBAN PLANNING SYSTEM

The ancient city was built according to the Hippodamian street layout, with perpendicular streets and underground, drainage and water supply facilities. In the acropolis the stadium, the temple of Pythian Apollo as well as the temple of Zeus Polieus and Athena Polias were overlooking the city. After the successfully repelling the siege led by Demetrius the Conqueror (302 BC), the Rhodians commissioned the construction of the Colossus, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world, to sculptor Harris. Due to the excellent urban planning, the impressive walls, the wealth and the flourishing of the arts, the Hellenistic Rhodes was one of the most splendid cities of ancient world.

ROME & BYZANTIUM

The rise of Rome resulted to the loss of independence for Rhodes as a city-state; nonetheless, she retained its prestige until 42 BC as an important centre for commerce, arts and sciences. From the 2nd century AD onwards a vigorous active Christian community was developed. According to tradition, it was Apostle Paul who taught and founded the new religion on the island.

In the 6th century. A.D. the immense Hellenistic city was confined around the big harbor, the Byzantine citadel, and the "Castle". The street layout, however, was preserved (Ippoton street, Socratous street, Pythagora street, Agiou Fanouriou street etc.).

KNIGHTS

In 1309 AD, Rhodes fell into the hands of the Knights of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem. The “renaissance“ of Rhodes in every sector, from trade to arts and letters, lasted about 200 years. The early Byzantine "Castle" was named “Collachio” (Collachium) and included the Palace of the Grand Magister, St. Johnn's church, the “Inns of the Tongues” of the Knights, the Hospital and the Arsenal. The biggest part of the city was comprised by the town (Burgum). The gradual modernization of the fortifications, with internal walls, wide moat, peripheral road, ramparts and at some outwork walls was influenced by the western developments in engineering and architecture. The Rhodian architecture adopted western European, late Gothic and Renaissance details. The most common building material was the local limestone.

OTTOMANS

The Ottomans conquered the island in 1522. Rhodes became a provincial town of the Ottoman Empire for almost four centuries. Greeks were obliged to create and live in residential areas, called “Marasia”, outside the medieval city, while the houses of the Greeks and the Knights inside of the walls were used to house the Muslim population. Most churches of the city were turned into mosques, while new mosques were established, as well as, public baths and fountains. The entirety of the medieval fortifications of the city remained almost intact undergoing regular maintenance.

ITALIANS

In 1912 Italy occupied Rhodes. Through the implementation of colonial policy Italy sought to “italianise” the islands. Driven by the propaganda presenting Italy as the natural successor of St. John's Knights, excavations took place revealing important ancient monuments. At the same time, extensive restorations of the medieval monuments were organized, culminating in the reconstruction of the Palace of the Grand Magister and the construction of St. John's church in Mandraki, in the modern city, as a copy of St. John's church of the Knights which was destroyed in 1856 by an explosion. By virtue of a decree from 1929, the Medieval city of Rhodes and cemeteries around the moat were characterized as "monumental area".

UNESCO

In 1948, Rhodes and the rest of the Dodecanese islands were formally incorporated in Greece. The same year the medieval and newer buildings inside and outside the walls were designated as "historical monuments". Gradually, Rhodes became one of the most popular tourist destinations worldwide. In 1960, by ministerial decree, the Medieval Town of Rhodes in its entirety, including the walls and the monumental zone around them, was designated as historical monumental complex. In 1988 the Medieval Town was declared World Heritage Site by UNESCO.