Hospitaller Knights of Rhodes

It is not that Rhodes lacks ancient ruins,temples or Byzantine churches.
 But what gives this island it's special charm is the Knight's Castle,one of the biggest and best preserved Middle age fortified cities in the world.
Rhodes is the largest of the Greek Dodecanese (Twelve Islands) and has a very very long story,with all the usual trappings: Phoenicians, Dorian Greeks,Byzantines,Turks and Italians. (Dodecanese united with Greece after WWII).

Ο πρώτος έρωτας όντως δεν ξεχνιέται. Και όσο περνάνε τα χρόνια η  θύμιση του φέρνει ένα χαμόγελο νοσταλγίας. Η Ρόδος είναι ο πρώτος μου έρωτας,αλλά και ο τόπος που φιλοξένησε πολλά χτυποκάρδια και πολλά γρατζουνισμένα γόνατα, εκεί στις αρχές της εφηβείας.

One of the castle's 11 gates.This one leads to the new harbor.
Somewhere among all the usual overlords of the island, were the Knights of St.John of Jerusalem, also known as Hospitaller Knights. They were the first of the combat-monk orders created in Jerusalem after the First Crusade (1119).The same year as the Hospitallers, another even more renowned combat order was created, the Templars.
When the Crusaders were forced out of the Holy Land,the Hospitallers first moved to Cyprus (1291) and then captured the independed island of Rhodes in 1309.

A Knight Templar to the left and a Hospitaller to the right. The two orders cooperated well in the Holy Land in fighting the Muslims. After the Templars had been persecuted by the Vatican,the Hospitallers inherited their treasure and their secrets.
The Knights build a mighty castle and a fortified wall -with a moat. And the medieval city of Rhodes prospered under their protection. 
For 200 years the Hospitallers ruled the island and managed to withstand one Ottoman Turks' siege and also curb the might of the  East Mediterranean pirates. 
But the Turks came back in 1522 with 400 ships and 200.000 troops. After defending the castle for 6 months, the Knights negotiated a surrender.

The Sultan,the famous Suleiman the Magnificent, impressed by their bravery in battle, agreed to let them leave.
The Knights,along with 4.000 inhabitants of Rhodes settled in Malta and became the famous pirate hunters, the Knights of Malta!
The island of Rhodes stayed for 390 years under Turkish occupation,then in 1912 came the Italians...

The courtyard of the Palace. The original building had been blown up in the 1800s by an explosion.The famous Grand Magister's Palace was restored just before WWII by the Italians (and Benito Mussolini:P)

Some facts about the castles fortifications: 
It is 5km long,12m wide and the moat is 30 m wide.Nowadays it has been transformed to a huge garden.

The medieval city of Rhodes became a UNESCO Cultural Monument in 1988 and the whole site underwent a thorough renovation and restoration. 

What makes Rhodes old city so interesting is the fact that it is still habitable. 6.000 of the 80.000 inhabitants of the island live and/or work inside its walls. There are museums, churches, mosques, wonderful little luxury hotels, marvellous restaurants, plus all the touristic paraphernalia (souvenir shops,cafeterias,cheap restaurants,kebabs, bars etc).

The old city's streets are paved with sea pebbles, nice to look at a bit strenuous to walk on :] 
But the air is heavy with romance,the scent of hibiscus flowers and...wait! On that balcony...could it be? Yes, it is beautifull Juliette (with a big fat mustache,but never mind) 

Romeo,Romeo!! Where are you,Romeo? *taps her paw, clearly irritated*
Dinner is served!! Ah,there you are!

Rhodes is much more than the old city and the castle (we'll be back soon),but now it's time for an evening coffee at Kontiki-the floating restaurant anchored in the old harbor overlooking the small fort and the windmills.
The sun is setting,the street lamps are on. 
The entrance to the old harbor is guarded by two statues, a male and a female Dama Dama deers. The female's statue is in the conservation workshop for restoration, so for the time being, he is guarding the place all alone.


  1. χαιρετισμους απο τη Ροδο των ονειρων σου λοιπον

  2. FANTASTIC! WONDERFUL!! *SPRAYS HEARTS AND FLOWERS EVERYWHERE* oops...*wipes them off of Desi so she can see*

    Yet again, Desi, you open my eyes, you make me laugh with joy, you make me exclaim, "WOW!! LOOK AT THAT!!"

    What a wonderful, amazingly cool place Rhodes is! I must admit that I'm not very knowledgeable about your part of the world (ok, most places), which of course makes it very easy to surprise me with another new and wonderful story about something which I have no clue about. I think it's so extremely interesting how many different people have invaded Greece...I mean, castles? WOW!! Templars?! REALLY?! HOLY COW! And people live in the old city too? I am just amazed and so intrigued.

    LOL, the longer I know you, the more places I want to visit! :D

    I loved the pictures so much, and the Romeo and Juliet pictures with your commentary totally cracked me up, you dork! :D

    Thank you so much for spending so much time and effort to put together this educational, entertaining, and very interesting post. I really enjoyed it! *hugs*

  3. @Γαβριηλ
    Να μου την προσέχετε:}
    Την ξαναβρήκα το ίδιο όμορφη τόσα χρόνια μετά...μόνο το θερινό το Ρόδον δεν λειτουργούσε πιά. Πολύ λαχτάρησα μια Ιταλική ταινία με Ταμ Ταμ και τυρόπιττα ....

  4. @Janet
    *huge hug*
    Rhodes is the island I spend all my summers as a child,so I simply love her :]
    There are so many fond memories of running around on our bicycles terrorising the neighbors, building tree houses,spending hours in the beach,stripping my baby brother and letting him run nacked in the streets,trying to burn my cousin alive...*sigh* those were the days!!!! lol

    So many summers there to enjoy and remember, how fantastic!! Sounds like the memories I have of our summer cabin up north of San Francisco...hmmm...I should write a post about that!

    Trying to burn your cousin alive...you monster!! :D How I would love to have seen you running around as a little kid! :)

  6. Great photos, another place to add to my list of places I would like to see!