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The Old Town of Rhodes is a bustling neighborhood of some 6,000 people, who live and work in the same buildings in which the Knights of St. John lived six centuries ago; as a living monument to the past it must be nearly unique in Europe, if not the world. Even the visitor whose stay in Rhodes is for no more than a few hours should not neglect to walk around it.

Rhodes (Greek: Ρόδος Rhódhos; Italian Rodi; Ladino: Rodi or Rodes; Ottoman Turkish: ردوس Rodos) is the largest of the Dodecanese islands in terms of both land area and population, situated in eastern Aegean Sea. This Greek island lies approximately 11 miles (18 km) to the west of the Turkish shores, situated between the Greek mainland and the island of Cyprus. As of 2001, it has a population of 117,007 of which 53,709 reside in the capital city of the island.

History

The earliest known settlers were the Dorians c. 1000 BC. During the Classical period the island's affiliations vacillated between Athens, Sparta, and Persia in attempts to preserve a balance of power. A devastating earthquake c. 225 BC destroyed the Colossus of Rhodes, one of the Seven Wonders of the World. In the medieval period Rhodes was occupied by the Byzantines, Muslims, and Knights of St. John (see Knights of Malta). The knights converted the island into a fortress and held it for two centuries until 1523, when the Turks took control. In 1912 it was taken from Turkey by Italy, and in 1947 it was awarded by treaty to Greece. A year-round tourist industry has brought prosperity to the island.

Knights’ period

In 1309 the island was sold to the Order of the Knights Hospitaliers of Saint John of Jerusalem. The Order was established in the 12th century in Jerusalem for the purpose of nursing pilgrims and crusaders, but soon enough it was transformed into a combat unit and acquired vast tracts of land.

Having retreated from Jerusalem and then Cyprus, the Order established its Headquarters on Rhodes, taking a leading role in the Eastern Mediterranean at this time.

During the Knights’ era the fortifications were extended, modernized and continuously reinforced. Α hospital, a palace and several churches were among the many public buildings constructed at that time, offering interesting examples of Gothic and Renaissance architecture. Ιn spite of the hostilities with the Ottoman Empire, sea trade was a source of wealth and the markets of the city were thriving. Under the Knights, the island had a period of prosperity and the relations between them and the local population was characterized by tolerance and often by close collaboration. Most of the streets of the Medieval Town coincided with those of the ancient city.
(Source: Encyclopædia Britannica)

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Additional Photos by George Rumpler (Budapestman) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 8900 W: 3 N: 20435] (82620)
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