The beautiful Old Town Rhodes

a blend of diverse architectures from different time periods – was declared in 1998 by UNESCO as a World Heritage City. 

Walking through the alleys within its walls you will see lively legends, myths, and fairy tales come to your eyes. 

Undoubtedly, the most prominent influences on its architecture are those of the Order of the Knights of St. John, but also of the Ottomans.

Today, the Medieval City is a vibrant organization, where the heart of tourism, commerce, and entertainment in the Emerald Island beats loudly.

Rhodes island Greece OLD-TOWN-9 Old Town Rhodes

 

Grand Master’s Palace

The most important monument since the rule of the Order of the Knights of St. John on the island of Rhodes, the Palace of the Grand Master appears impressive and imposing as you ascend the street of the Knights in the Medieval City of Rhodes.

Built on the site of the lower Acropolis of Ancient Rhodes, at the original site of the Temple of the God of Sun, the palace was created in the 14th century by the knights of St. John, in order to be the personal residence of the Grand Master, operating at the same time as its administrative center city. 

 

The palace was destroyed in 1856 after a powerful gunpowder eruption and rebuilt in 1940 by the Italians, who followed its original plans, 
and became the headquarters and residence of the Italian governor. 

Items of interest are mosaic floors, medieval furniture, columns and capitals, mirrors and paintings.
 

Rhodes island Greece OLD-TOWN-2 Old Town Rhodes

Kastellania

The ‘Kastellania’ was built in 1503 as ‘Basilica Mercatorum’, a combination of exchange,
commercial court, and administrative offices.
It was constructed in the busiest part of the ‘Mercatus’,
the market area of the town and proves the importance of trade for Hospitaller Rhodes (1309-1522). 

Rhodes island Greece kastelania-old-town-rhodes-min-scaled Old Town Rhodes

 

It is one of Rhodes’ most important Gothic public buildings and has some Renaissance features,
most notably the limestone portal on the first floor. 

 

The loggia on the ground floor was used as a meeting place for merchants and trade
purposes and transactions while the first floor housed the commercial court and offices. 

 

In Ottoman times it became a mosque and also served at one time as a fish market. 

The ‘Kastellania’ also served as the base for the guards responsible for keeping order in the market area. 

 

The building has been a RICHeS favorite since 2010 when it first opened for Open Doors.

 

Admiralty

The name ‘Admiralty’ is in use since the 19th century when it was thought that this grand late 

15th-century Gothic palace once housed the commander of the Hospitaller fleet.

 

By that time, situated in the heart of the Jewish quarter, it had been split into multiple housing for poor families.

Its original function remains contested. For a long time, it was thought that it was the palace of the Orthodox bishop where a recent study has identified it as the Venetian consulate.

 

Our Lady of the Town

This ‘hall church’, with an equally high nave and aisles, dates from the late 14th century and was one of the town’s most important catholic churches. 

It was damaged and ruined during the siege and earthquake of 1480 and the siege of 1522.

 Never rebuilt or used as a mosque the ruin was filled with houses. 

These were demolished in the 1930s creating the present open space. The opposite is the Gate of Our Lady, created in 1955.

 

St. Catherine’s Hospice

Built-in 1391, this ‘palazzo’ got its present looks in 1516. It was administered by the Tongue of Italy and served

as a hospice for noble and other important pilgrims, visitors and guests of the Knights.

 

Similar in style with other important palatial buildings, like the Inn of France and the Admiralty, 

the ground floor was used for shops and storage while the upper floors (piano nobile) housed 

the residential and representative quarters.

 

Our Lady of the Victory

During the Siege of 1480, it looked for a moment that the city was lost after the Ottomans managed to break through 

the walls at this spot. Thanks to enormous resistance of the defenders, among whom many Jews who lived 

 

in this neighborhood, the attack was repelled. Not long after that, the Ottomans lifted the siege and all over Europe the ‘Miracle

of Rhodes’ was a cause for celebration. Grandmaster D’Aubusson decided to build a catholic church 

on the very spot where the miracle happened but only 40 years later grandmaster Villiers de ‘Isle Adam

had the church demolished to use the stones for rebuilding the walls at night during the

final siege of 1522.

 

Akandia Gate

The long curved street between the ruins of Our Lady of the Victory and the Akandia gate was called ‘Calle de la Eskola’ (school street), in Ladino,

the medieval Spanish spoken by the Sephardic Jews of Rhodes who inhabited this part of town (Juderίa) for hundreds of years. The Akandia

gate is new, it was constructed in 1935.

 

Synagogue

After the ‘ Kehila Grande’ (Grand Synagogue, now ruined) the Kahal Kadosh Shalom synagogue was the most important synagogue in Rhodes. 

Built-in 1577, it got its present looks in the 19th century. Restored, it now houses a museum and is still in use for Jewish religious services and ceremonies.

 

Church of the Holy Trinity

This 15th-century Greek-orthodox Church was once used by the mostly Greek-orthodox people who lived in this part of town called the ‘Burgo’.

After 1522 the residents were replaced by Muslims and the church was converted into a ‘meshed’ (small mosque). 

The base of the minaret still reminds of this period.

 

St. John’s Gate

After 1480 several gates on the land facing side of the fortifications were closed for safety reasons. 

Only three remained, of which this gate was the most important.

 

 It was named after the patron saint of the Knights of St. John. It was through this gate in 1522 that sultan Suleyman entered the

town for the first time after its surrender and also the victorious Italian troops used it in 1912 for the same purpose.

 

Together with the intricate pattern of the bulwark of St. John, this section of the fortifications 

gives a good idea of the architectural sophistication of the fortifications from

the post-1480 period.

 

Chapels south of Omirou Street

Three interesting small churches or chapels (later mosques) are located close to each other just south of Omirou street in a scarcely visited part

of town. Sts. Theodori, St. Kyriaki (10b) and St. Michael. St. Kyriaki was built around 1500 and transformed into a funerary mosque for Barzani

Baba, the upper herald of Suleyman during the conquest. St. Michael is located on one of Rhodes’ most peaceful little squares.

 

St. Athanasius Gate

The present complex of the Athanasius Gate and bulwark dates from 1487 and surrounds the Tower of the Virgin from 1441. The gate was

closed during the Ottoman period (1522-1912) and called ‘Tekeli Kapu’ in Turkish, the ‘closed gate’. According to legend, the city would be lost

for Islam if it was ever opened. In 1922, ten years after the Italians conquered the town and exactly 400 years after the Ottoman conquest,

the gate was again opened for the public.

 

Dorieos Square with Recep Pasha mosque & Agios Fanourios church

Recep Pasha was bey of Rhodes in the late 16th century, he and his family are buried in the tomb behind the mosque that carries his name,

built-in 1588, following the imperial style of Sinan. The restoration of the mosque is nearing completion. Nearby is the popular church of St.

Fanourios with its well-preserved frescos.

 

Ibrahim Pasha mosque

The oldest still existing mosque in the town, built in 1540/1541 and the only one still in use. Contrary to what some believe the mosque is not

named after Suleyman’s confidant Ibrahim Pasha from Parga (executed in 1536) but after another upper-echelon official with the same name.

 

Athinas Square with St. Michael

This now open area is the result of bombing during World War II which destroyed the large church of St. Michael of which only ruins remain. The

church was probably the Greek-orthodox cathedral of the town during the Hospitaller period (1309-1522) and showed a combination of Byzantine

and Western architectural influences, characteristic for the hybrid culture of Hospitaller Rhodes.

 

Aga mosque

One of Socrates Street most conspicuous buildings, the Mehmet Aga mosque with its unusual wooden minaret dates from 1820 and takes

its name from the 1875 restoration paid by Mehmet Aga, the officer in the Ottoman navy.

 

Arionos Square with Mustafa III mosque and Yeni Hamam

The mosque named after and commissioned by sultan Mustafa III was built in the 1760s and is now used for wedding ceremonies by the

Muslim community of Rhodes. The Yeni (new) Hamam was built in 1558 during the reign of Sultan Suleyman the Magnificent. The separate female

quarters were added later, probably simultaneously with the Mustafa III mosque in the 1760s. The Yeni Hamam is considered to be one of the

most harmonious and best-preserved Ottoman provincial bathhouses.

 

St. Paraskevi

This church dating from the 15th century has an interesting polygonal drum carrying its dome. The church was converted into a meshed in the

Ottoman period and used by the members of the hatmakers guild who were concentrated in this area.

Hamza Bey mosque

The recently restored mosque named after its builder, the 19th century Hamza bey. A good example of classical Ottoman mosque architecture.

 

St. George monastery

A favorite of many previous Open Doors celebrations, the complex of St. George with its church and several monastic and secular buildings

is an oasis close to one of Rhodes’ most busy areas. The church dates from the first half of the 15th century and is one of Rhodes’ finest. 

 

It was built for the Franciscan friars but shows again the typical Rhodian hybrid style combining Byzantine and Western influences. 

The niches of the drum carrying the dome are unusual. After 1522 a Quran school was housed in the complex.

 


Ottoman Library and Suleymaniye mosque

At the highest point of the former ‘agora’ or ‘bazar’, now called Socrates The street you find the Ottoman Library and the Mosque of Suleyman. The

library dates from 1793-94 and houses a unique collection of old books and manuscripts. The rose-colored mosque opposite was commissioned

by Sultan Suleyman the Magnificent in 1523 but was rebuilt in 1809.

 

Clock tower and Ottoman school

The Clock tower was built in 1851 on a corner of the old Byzantine wall as a symbol of progress by the son of the builder of the Ottoman library.

Both tower and library still belong to descendants of the family. The school behind it was built in 1876 by a group of reformist Muslims of

Rhodes. It stands on the ruins of the former conventual church of St. John and is the most recent addition to many layers of history on this very

important spot in Rhodes town, dating back to ancient times.

 

Palace of the Grandmasters

Though almost entirely newly (re)constructed between 1936 and 1940 (the original was lost after centuries of decay, earthquakes and a famous

explosion in 1856), the Palace of the Grandmasters follows the original floor plan, though on a larger and more grandiose scale. It was the official

residence of the grandmasters of the Order of the Knights of the Hospital of St. John of Jerusalem, who ruled over Rhodes from 1309 – 1522. After

1522 the building stood mostly empty, save for some periods in which it functioned as a prison.

 

Amboise Gate

Completed in 1512 during the tenure of grandmaster Emery d’Amboise to whom the gate is named. Above the gate a relief with an angel holding

the coats of arms of the Order and the grandmaster. The gate is flanked by two low heavy semi-circular towers.

 

Street of the Knights

The most famous street in Rhodes and the nerve center of the state of the Knights. Here were most of the ‘auberges’ or ‘inns’ located, the communal

buildings for each of the various ‘tongues’ (national subdivisions) of which the Order of St. John consisted. The most prestigious is the Inn of

Spain and the Inn of France but the street forms monumental integrity as a complex of interconnected buildings

 

Archaeological Museum

The museum is housed in the vast ‘new hospital’ of the Knights, which was begun in 1440 and only completed in 1489. The ground floor was

reserved for storage while the upper floor, originally only reachable via the large entrance and staircase in the Street of the Knights, led to the

areas designated for patients. Medical care in Hospitaller Rhodes was known as particularly good. Far too large for the needs of Ottoman

Rhodes the building became an arsenal and barracks for most of its post1522 existence. Since the 1920s 

it serves as Archaeological Museum of Rhodes.

 

Church of Our Lady of the Castle

Dating back to the 11th century, this church was the cathedral of Byzantine Rhodes till 1309 after which it became the see of the Latin

bishop and given its present gothic appearance. In the Ottoman period, it was known as the Kendurun mosque. The Italians restored it to a

church in 1940. It now houses the Byzantine museum.

 

Inn of Auvergne

One of two ‘inns’ not located in the Street of the Knights, the other one being the Inn of England. 

Above the entrance an inscription with the year in which the inn was completed: 1507.

 

Argyrokastrou and Symi Squares

The area of these squares served in the Hospitaller period as the location of arsenals and internal port and drydock.

The 14th century Old Hospital is now the library of the Archaeological Institute.

 

Inn of England and Arnaldi Gate

The Inn of England is located outside the Street of the Knights, just like the Inn of Auvergne. Built somewhere after 1480 it was reconstructed in

1919 after having fallen into ruin. Nearby is the Arnald(i/o) Gate, the only gate from the Collachium (restricted zone of the Knights) to the

harbor.

 

Marine Gate

The theatrical Marine or Sea Gate was the main entrance to Rhodes from the sea and therefore meant as the ‘face’ of Rhodes and the expression of

the power and wealth of the Hospitaller state. It was built in 1478 during the tenure of grandmaster Pierre d’Aubusso 

 

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