Monday, October 20, 2014

All Roads Lead to Rhodes, Old town Rhodes - September 2014

The Island of Rhodes, nicknamed the “Island of the Knights” with an area of 1,400 km² is the largest of the Dodecanesse Islands. This island  is 79.7 km long and 38 km  wide and has more than 200 km of coastline. The island is famous for its beautiful beaches, stunning coastal views, historical sites, and quaint, picturesque villages. Rhodes boasts over 300 days of sunshine per year.

Our flight to Rhodes was on the new Air Canada Rouge, a long, tedious and cramped flight with a 1 hour layover in Montreal and a 5 hour layover in Athens. If you wanted movies on board you would have to download the Air Canada Movie App on to your phone, laptop of Ipad which was basically impossible to download. Also, you would either have to carry your own earphones or purchase one on board. Almost a no frills airlines! In Athens we changed to Aegean Airlines, a much smaller airline but what a difference in quality and service. We arrived Rhodes at about 5:00 pm, breezed through customs as we only had carry-on luggage. 
We were met by Alex, brother of Greg our landlord ( and were taken to our little apartment at 76 Rodiou just on the outskirts of Old Town Rhodes. What a cute studio suite and very well maintained. Alex lives on the ground floor. There was a welcome bottle of wine, flowers and some greek delights on the dining table. After settling in we took a stroll around the neighbourhood, enjoyed a delicious glass of ice coffee at a small coffee shop, then sampled a Greek gyro before retiring for the night as we had to be at the ferry terminal by 8:00 am the next morning for our ferry ride to Marmaris

Click on this link to view photo album

Our apartment at 76 Rodiou
Studio Suite

We returned to Rhodes on September 23 after a most relaxing and fun Gulet cruise along the Southern Turkish Coast. Our cruise took us from Marmaris to Fethiye.

Gulet the "Askinoglu"

On arrival at the Rhodes ferry terminal, we noticed that Cunard’s Queen Victoria had just dumped their +2000 passengers onto this lovely island. It was a battle flagging a cab to take us to the apartment but eventually, after much haggling, we managed to convince one of the cab drivers to skip the tourists trade and ferry us to our little abode.
Rhodes Ferry Terminal
(click on all photos to view full screen image)
Cunard's Queen Victoria

After settling in, it was time to explore the Old (Medieval) Town of Rhodes (UNESCO World Heritage Site). It was about a 15 minute walk through interesting streets and alleys, this took us to the Citadel entering at St. Athanansios Gate. The City Walls of Rhodes were built in many stages over two centuries (partly on top of the Byzantine fortifications) which began before 1330 and completed sometime in 1522. The Citadel of Rhodes, built by the Knights Hospitalliers, is one of the best-preserved medieval towns in Europe. This is also the oldest inhabited medieval town in Europe behind 4 km of fortified walls. You walk through a maze of medieval cobblestone streets and alleys, filled with residential dwellings, pensions, boutiques, small chapels and bistros before you get to the larger historical landmarks and public places. As permanent residents of the Old Town are allowed to drive their vehicles to their homes, one must be beware of vehicles roaring through these very narrow streets.

Here are some of the highlights of the medieval town:

Ippokratos Sq. Or Symi Square surrounds the Castellania Fountain. This is the main hub of activity where most of the tacky tourist shops, restaurants and bars are located and where the tourist mainly congregate. There are several impressive medieval buildings near this square.

Ippokratos Sq.View from Castellania Palace

Castellania Fountain
Palace of Castellan (in Symi Square) is a square building originally built in 1507 and was the Knight’s commercial court.

Castellan Palace

Ruins of the Temple of Venus which dates back to the 3rd century BC and the remains of the Gothic Church of the Virgin of the Burgh (Saint Marie du Burg), the largest Catholic Church in Rhodes. This church dates back to the 14th century. Today only the three apses together with parts of the small chapel are standing. This was most likely one of the first buildings built by the Knight Templars, who had at that time moved their headquarters to Rhodes.

Archaeological Museum housed since 1916 in the Old Hospital of the Knights which was built by the Magistrate De Lastic in 1440.The museum houses vases, figurines, jewellery, metal objects, tombs from Ancient Kamiros, Classical, Hellenistic and Roman sculpture, mosaic floors of the Hellenistic period, funerary slabs from the period of the Knights and many other ancient artifacts.

Museum Courtyard

Church of the Holy Trinity known by its Turkish name of Dolapli Cami is a Byzantine Church dating back to the 15th century.

Church of St. Panteleimon was built  to commemorate the victory of the Christian defenders of Rhodes against the Ottoman besiegers. The siege began on the 23rd of May, 1840.

Mosque of Redzep-Pasha built in 1588, in its day it was the finest mosque on the island.

Next to the Mosque is the Municipal Hammam Baths or "Turkish baths" housed in a 7th-century Byzantine structure.

Muslim Library  or Ottoman Library is an 18th-century library founded in 1794 by Turkish Rhodian Ahmed Hasuf, it houses a small number of Persian and Arabic manuscripts and a collection of Korans handwritten on parchment.

Avenue of the Knights or Ipoton Street is a 600m long street where the Knights lived and worked. The tall walls on both sides are framed with stone-carved codes of arms. At the top of Ippoton Street is the very impressive Palace of the Grand Masters.

Coat of Arms

Palace of the Grand Masters is a majestic 14th-century fort (converted to a palace in 1522), built on the site where the ancient Greek Temple of Apollo once stood. This was to be the last line of defense should the outer walls of the city be breached. This was also the residence of the Grand Master of the Knights, and where the Order assembled. The palace was destroyed by an explosion of stored gunpowder in 1856, rebuilt by the Italians with a lavish interior, intending it as a holiday home for Mussolini and King Emmanuel III. It is now a museum, containing sculptures, antique furniture, mosaics taken from Kos and various antiquities.

Archways surrounding the Courtyard


Courtyard of the Grand Masters Palace

 5 of the 11 gates leading to the Citadel
Amboise Gate
Gate of St. John

St. Anthanasios Gate

St. Catherine's Gate

Eleftheria or Liberty Gate

 Streets, residences, vendors in the Old  Town



One of the spectacular features of the Citadel is the dry Moat surrounding the walls. The moat walls are 12 metres thick, the moat itself is 21 metres in width and four km in length. The Knights built low casements projecting from the walls from which cannon and guns could be fired.

Terreplein of Spain Rampart

Add Del Carrettos Bastioncaption


New Town Scenes

The Commercial Harbor is the principal harbor in Rhodes. The old Mandráki Harbor was once the military harbour and was guarded by a tower built between 1464 and 1467 by the Grand Master Zacosta. It is now mainly used by pleasure craft and excursion boats which are protected by long breakwaters. On the Mandráki breakwater are three disused windmills, and at its northern tip is the Fort St Nicholas (built about 1400 and strengthened in 1460) and a lighthouse. Flanking the entrance to the harbor are stone columns topped by figures of a Stag and Doe (Elafos and Elafina), which are the symbolic animals of Rhodes.

Commercial Harbour on right, Mandraki on left

Mandraki Marina

Stag & Doe

Naillac’s Tower was built between 1396 and 1421 by the Grand Master Philibert de Naillac on the causeway east of the Gate of Saint Paul. It was used as a watch tower.

Tower and Fort of Saint Nicholas After the siege of Rhodes in 1480 the Grand Master d'Aubusson added a bastion around the tower transforming it into a guard fortress on the sea. This was the key to the defense of the city in both the first unsuccessful siege of 1480 and the second and final one that took place in 1522-23.


Church of the Annunciation built in 1925 in three-aisled Gothic Basilica style has unique frescoes by Fotis Kontoglou. It is a copy of the old Church of the Knights of St. John, which was destroyed in 1856.

New Market (Néa Agorá) is a shopping centre housed in a large 7-sided impressive building with gold decoration and round domes, with an outdoor central courtyard. The front of the market is lined with gift shops, cafes, restaurants and bars.

Town Hall

Palazzo del Governo, now the Prefecture of the Dodecanese.

University of the Aegean

Acropolis of Ancient Rhodes dates back to the 2nd century BC. On the summit stands the Temple of Apollo. The Temple of Athena Polias and Zeus Polieus is located at the northern edge of the Rhodes Acropolis. From here there is a panoramic view of the city and the sea. It also contains the Hellenistic stadium, built in the 3rd century BC, where the athletic events of the Alioi Games took place.  Next to the stadium is the small restored Roman Odeon.                                                                                                                                                                                                                  

Roman odeon

On Alex's recommendation, we decided to try La Mapasia, a restaurant close to where we lived. This is a unique restaurant owned by Georgio, a great chef who does not work with a menu but creates dishes as he goes along. We visited this restaurant 3 times and it never lacked variety or quality. It seems Alex, Greg & Georgio grew up together, their mother lives just down the road from the apartment. Georgio was very willing to share some of his secrets with us and he also sent us away with chilies from his mother's garden. The menu for the first night was lightly sauteed Calamari. The Calamari rings were huge and so tender it melted in your mouth. This was followed by a wonderful Paella dish called Fideua, which is a seafood dish with spaghetti instead of rice. On our second visit he served a delicious chicken & chickpeas dish with a wonderful blend of cloves which did not overpower this dish. This was followed by sea bass and a sauteed beets and potato dish. On the third night he surprised us with a scrumptious fish soup followed with delicious pan fried sea bass. Thank you Georgio for this wonderful cuisine.

La Mapasia


Chicken & Chickpeas

Sea Bass

Sauteed Beets & Potatoes

Fish Soup

Sauteed Sea Bass


  1. Hi
    You made a significant typing error in the discription of one of the photo's "Church of St. Panteleimon was built to commemorate the victory of the Christian defenders of Rhodes against the Ottoman besiegers. The siege began on the 23rd of May, 1840." It was in 1480 not 1840
    My fingers have a tendency to do the same on a regulary basis.
    While searching for the siege of 1522 I came across your page, a nice page, and the information by this photo was new to me, so you can see that even after 30 years comming to Rhodes there is something to learn.
    For some years I work on a historical map of the town, and I must confes that I have not spend mucht time on the history of the churches, to busy getting the building of the fortifications in the right order.
    Greetings Rudy