Shepherd Entertainment takes you on a tour of Rhodes, the largest island of the Dodecanese Islands which lies in the Aegean ...
Sea not far from Asia Minor from which it was separated at the beginning of the Tertiary Period.
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The 1400 square kilometer island of Rhodes is the largest island of the Dodecanese Islands. It lies in the Aegean Sea not far from Asia Minor from which it was separated at the beginning of the Tertiary Period. It’s closer to the coast of Turkey than Greece. Its coast is 220 kilometers long and its highest mountain is more than 1200 meters high. First, the island was inhabited by the Aegeans then it was overthrown by the Dorian invasion. The prosperity of the towns on the islands which took part in the Trojan War with nine galleys is mentioned several times by Homer in his Iliad.
Their favorable geographical position and prosperity stemming 0:37 from this location have made the island an economic and political power. Rhodes created some colonies even in the times before Christ not only in Asia Minor but also on the territory of present-day France.
The town by the same name which was put on the map by becoming one of the Seven Wonders of the World, the Colossus of Rhodes was built on the north eastside of Rhodes Island on the territory of three ancient poelis in 408 BC. The statue depicted Helios the sun god when finally, the Macedonian King Demetrious withdrew after an unsuccessful siege of the town lasting one year, his abandoned battle machines were sold by the Rhodians and the huge bronze statue was erected from the amount of money received.
The 31 meter high art works stood in the harbor of Mandraki and below its two sprawling legs, boats were running, guarded at night by a flare in the hand of the statue. It took 12 years for Cares of Lindos, the Greek sculptor, to build the work of night and only one night for an earthquake to destroy it. The remains stood on its place for more than 800 years.
The present day town combines the ancient lineation of the streets and the gothic buildings of the middle ages with the masks and marionettes of oriental atmosphere. The Johanites played a dominant rule in the town’s history and architecture. The town walls were built by members of the Johanite Military Order together with the best officers of the engineering core of the era.
The center of the old town is a Hippocrates Square adorned with a fountain. An amazing view of the square opens up from terraces of nearby taverns and restaurants. The busy streets with several little shops look like a real Turkish bazaar which is of course no coincidence since we are in the Turkish quarter. The Turkish as is in the case of every conquered area left their mark on this place in the form of Turkish spas, jammies, masks and marionettes.
Rhodes was able to preserve its glory and prosperity until the appearance of the Holy Roman Empire. Nowadays, the island is frequently called the Island of Roses. However, hardly any roses can be seen here but there is an abundance of oleander and hibiscus. The name can be traced back to the sun god called of the inhabitants of the island. According to the myth, Helios fell in love with the nymph Rhode, the daughter of Poseidon.
The sovereign military order of St. John of Rhodes was established in the 11th century in Jerusalem. Driven out of the holy land, they tried to settle down in Cyprus. Then in 1306, they bought the Dodecanese from Genoese pirates. The order of the militant monks who wore red vest decorated with a crucifix on top of their chain armor became more and more influential. The Johanites became extremely wealthy by obtaining the fortune of their rival that is of Knight’s Templar Order with papal assistance. Their fleet of black galleys played a significant role in commercial shipping. Meanwhile, the knights were continuously working on fortifying their towns. Sometimes, the town walls were 13 to 15 meters thick. They could resist two ottoman attacks. However, they couldn’t defy the 100000 strong army of Suleiman the Magnificent and the Sultan conquered Rhodes in 1522. Following the battle, the knights were expelled to the Island of Crete, then Malta and their order has been know as the Order of Malta ever since.
The Johanites consisted of seven groups of different nationalities that were called Languages. Languages such as English; German, Italian, Spanish, French as well as Auvergnat and Provencal were spoken. The languages had their own commanders who chose the Templar Grand Master which was almost equal to royal status.
Members of the order were classified into three groups; priest, soldiers and servants. The most significant side of the old town is the Palace of the Grand Master. The main entrance of the building that would make a good fortress is guarded by two towers with indented entablatures. The gothic style gate leads to a close inner courtyard. Under the palace, a three level case made or dungeon can be found which could serve as a shelter for the inhabitants of the castle during a long lasting siege. The consecutive generations of Grand Masters decorated and renovated the building according to the taste of the era which was customary in case of the royal palaces too. The temple belonging to the palace was unfortunately destroyed by a gunpowder explosion. Its replica was built in the harbor of Mandraki.
The street of knights that starts from the Palace of the Grand Masters is the part of the town with the best atmosphere. The former codes of arms of the languages can still be seen on the domed houses.
In the surprisingly intact ensemble of works of art, among others, the accommodation of the knights, the hospital, chapel, communal rooms, the loggias which were kind of meeting room as well as the building of the knight’s court can be seen.
The bastions and the towers of the fortress served as accommodation of a garrison. The harbor can be seen from the watchtower even today. However, we’re met with a completely different view than earlier. Three characteristic windmills stand on the pier of the harbor which ground the grain transported by boats already at the end of 1400.
The Agios Nicholas tower fortress from the 15th century stands at the end of the pier and functions as a light tower today. Two columns stand in the former place of the two legs of the Colossus bearing the new emblem of the island, two fallow deer. By the way, the deer were brought to the island as protection against snakes.
The Moor style building of the new marketplace, the Néa Agorá is one of the liveliest spots in town and is also the first view for those arriving by ship. It’s been tagged in a closed courtyard is crowded with shops and cafes both the inside and outside. Tourists like relaxing in the shade of its leafy trees. In the harbor stands St. Stephens Cathedral which is well known for its church clock. And next to it, the ornamented building of the prefecture, a monument of the Italian occupation can be found.
The town hall, the buildings of the national and Town Theater as well as the National Bank, the Post Office, the Law Courts and Customs Houses at the port can also be found along the key side. The decorative building of the beach perfectly fits into this environment. The Island of Rhodes also offers enticing sites beyond the capital.