If you just want to relax and lie on the beach all day then the island of Rhodes, with its 300 days of sun, is perfect for you. However, if you fancy leaving the 21st century behind and stepping back into the Medieval period to walk in the footsteps of the Knights of St John then you must visit the old town of Rhodes.
And if you visit at dusk when the crowds thin and the light fades, it is easy to imagine yourself back in the 15th century. You wouldn’t be surprised if were greeted by a couple of crusade seasoned knights within the narrow gothic streets.
The Old Town Walls
The medieval town of Rhodes is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Sitting on the crossroads between Europe and the Middle East it has been an important strategic location over the centuries. The Order of St John of Jerusalem occupied Rhodes from 1309 to 1523 and transformed Rhodes city into the heavily fortified stronghold you can see today.
The town is the oldest inhabited medieval town in Europe. It is surrounded by a 4 km wall which is up to 12 m thick in parts and is dispersed with ten, impressive, fortified gateways.
The Street Of The Knights
One of the highlights of the old town is the cobbled Street of the Knights. From the 14th century, the street was home to the Knights who ruled Rhodes. Along the street are the inns of the seven ‘tongues’, the languages of the various knights – England, France, Germany, Italy, Aragon, Auvergne and Provence.
When we were walking the street, it was getting dark and there only a handful of people along its entire length. The atmosphere was amazing and it was hard to believe that only a few blocks away were the bustling bars and restaurant of modern Rhodes.
At the eastern end of the Street of the Knights are the remains of Lady of the Castle Cathedral. Originally constructed in the 11th century but the three-aisled Gothic structure was built in the 14th century.
Like many churches, it was turned into a Mosque during the Ottoman occupation.
Palace of the Grand Master of the Knights of Rhodes
We love walking the medieval narrow streets of Rhodes at night but if you want to find out more about the rich, turbulent history of the island you must come back during the day to visit the museums and palaces.
The Palace of the Grand Master was first constructed by the Knights Hospitaller during the 14th century but has been rebuilt several times. The palace also contains two permanent archaeological exhibitions, which are housed in the arched halls on the ground floor. One is “Ancient Rhodes” and looks at the 2400 years since the founding of the city of Rhodes, the other looks at Rhodes from the early Christian period to the Turkish conquest in 1522.
We also enjoyed a nighttime cruise around Mandraki Harbour where you can get a great view of the city. The entrance of the harbour was where the mythical Colossus of Rhodes was said to have stood.
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The Streets Of Medieval Rhodes – Pin For Later