Rhodes Old Town is an exquisite museum of the medieval era, home to a number of sights one can’t miss during their visit. The first thing that comes to mind when thinking of the Greek island of Rhodes is a magnificent fortress surrounded by strong imposing walls. Built in the 14th century by the Knights of St. John, it is considered to be one of the most extended and well-preserved medieval settlements in Europe and designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1988. While wandering through the city it’s like time travelling, reviving childhood dreams of being a knight in distant lands.
Palace of Grand Masters
The Palace of Grand Masters is a magnificent 14th-century palace that was destroyed in the gunpowder explosion of 1856 and what is visible today is the complete Italian reconstruction that was undertaken to create the summer residence of Mussolini and King Victor Emmanuel III.
Nowadays, it is a museum, containing sculpture, mosaics taken from the island of Kos by the Italians and antique furniture. It is worth a visit to appreciate the majestic medieval lifestyle of the Knights. Visit also the two exhibitions of Rhodes through Ancient Greek, Roman, and Byzantine times at the basement and ground floor.
The Wall & Moat
The Walls of Rhodes Old Town with their bastions, battlements, towers, gates cause one to gasp in awe and are an interesting example of military architecture. The fortifications of the old town of Rhodes are shaped like a defensive crescent around the old town and they were built by the Knights of Saint John by enhancing the existing Byzantine walls. Massive towers project from several places, while a wide dry Moat provided the first line of defense. The length of the wall was approximately four kilometers and there are 11 gates to access the old city, from which the most known are the Gate d’Amboise, the Gate of Saint John, the Gate of Saint Catherine and the Liberty Gate.
Museum of Decorative Arts
The Museum of Decorative Arts is located at Argyrokastrou Square near the St. Paul’s Gate and is considered to be a folk museum that houses a collection of artifacts from around the Dodecanese. The collection includes exhibits displaying tiles, costumes, embroidered clothing, carving and musical instruments, woodwork, metalwork and pottery objects.
Avenue of the Knights
Enjoy your walk through the old city and visit the Avenue of the Knights (Ippoton Street), which is one of the best preserved and most delightful medieval relics. It is a 600m-long, cobble – paved street that was constructed over an ancient pathway that led in a straight line from the Acropolis of Rhodes to the port. In the early 16th century, it became the address for most of the inns of each nation, which housed Knights who belonged to the Order of St. John.
The Museum of Archaeology (Hospital of the Knights)
Situated in the atmospheric 15th century Hospital of the St. John’s Knights at Mousiou Square, the Museum of Archaeology of the old town of Rhodes includes collections of artifacts from the Geometric and Hellenistic Eras, Medieval funerary monuments and slabs, figurines and vases from the Geometric and Hellenistic Period, etc. Its most famous exhibit is the Parian marble statuette, the Aphrodite of Rhodes, a 1st-century-BC adaptation of a Hellenistic statue.
Travel back in time in the medieval citadel of Rhodes and the Knights’ era, exploring the mysteries of the old town. Inspiring, isn’t it?