The island of the Knights
Welcome to Rhodes, the capital of the Dodecanese, an island with bright green hills, rich green valleys and uninterrupted line of golden beaches; Rhodes is truly a blessed place.
Thanks to its strategic position, Rhodes has been important since ancient times. The ancient city of Rhodes, the construction of which began in 407 BC, was designed according to the city planning system devised by the greatest city planner of antiquity, Hippodamus of Miletus. Rhodes soon developed into one of the most important seafaring and trading centres in the Eastern Mediterranean. When it became a province of the Roman, and later the Byzantine Empire, it initially lost its ancient glory. But in 1309 the Knights of Saint John of Jerusalem conquered Rhodes. They built strong fortifications to protect the island, turning it into an important administrative centre and a thriving multinational medieval city. In 1523 Rhodes was conquered by the Ottoman Turks, and the Greeks had to settle outside the city walls. During the Ottoman occupation, new buildings were erected within the Old Town, mainly mosques and baths. In 1912 Rhodes and the rest of the Dodecanese, were seized by the Italians. The new rulers embellished the city with magnificent buildings, wide roads and squares. The Palace of the Grand Master was rebuilt and the Street of the Knights was reconstructed in order to regain its medieval purity. It was not until 1948 that Rhodes officially became part of Greece. In 1988 the Medieval City of Rhodes was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Things to do on Rhodes
Old Town: priceless global heritage
One of the best preserved mediaeval settlements in the world, the Old Town has been declared a Unesco World Heritage Site, and is one of the many reasons to choose Rhodes as your holiday destination. Protected inside its imposing wall – a boundary between past and present – is the island’s coat of arms.
In the Old Town every stone tells a story, a history of 2,400 years. Ancient statues, marble crests, fountains, the Street of the Knights, the Palace of the Grand Masters, mosques and hammams, the Clock Tower with its breathtaking view of the Aegean, a rich heritage left behind by past civilisations.
From Grand Masters to Street of the Knights
The most famous road in the Old Town of Rhodes is the Street of the Knights, restored just as it was in the Middle Ages. Here you’ll find the inns of the ‘tongues’, or national guards, that made up the Order of the Knights. At the highest point in the road is a significant attraction: the grandiose castle, the Palace of the Grand Masters, with its enormous towers, now a wonderful museum.
A modern city, with a shopping centre, large hotels and resorts, numerous cafes, restaurants, clubs, impressive sights and attractions, but also traditional villas called marasiotika (from Marasia). Guarding Mandraki’s marina, from the tops of two tall limestone columns, are the island’s emblems: a deer and doe. At the edge of the dock stands the small fort of Agios Nikolaos, built between 1464 and 1467.
Along the coastal road, public buildings erected by the Italians are sure to impress you; the New Market, the National Bank of Greece, Government House, the National Theatre, the Archbishop’s Residence, City Hall and the famous Grande Albergo delle Rose, one of the most luxurious hotels in Europe in the 1930s that today houses the world-famous Rhodes Casino in one of its wings. In front of the aquarium you’ll find one of the island’s most cosmopolitan beaches, a place to see and be seen.
The Colossus of Rhodes
Although no traces of the statue remain, it is said that the Colossus of Rhodes (one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World) once stood in place of the statues of deer now at the harbour. According to the stories, ships sailed beneath its giant legs and every night the passage was closed with an enormous chain.
The ancient acropolis of Lindos is one of the most popular shrines of antiquity, surrounded by walls constructed by the knights, standing 116m above sea level. Here you’ll admire the impressive Doric Temple of Athena Lindia, built in the 4th century B.C. The village of Lindos, built on a slope, is the most attractive and popular on the island. In the summer its little streets fill with visitors bar-hopping and window-shopping or buying gifts, like the island’s famous decorative plates. This picturesque town should definitely be on your list of things to do in Rhodes.
Fun in Faliraki
Faliraki is a popular destination in Rhodes for young British tourists. Riff off its super-charged atmosphere with loud music and lashings of alcohol. A paradise for adrenaline junkies, with water sports, go-carting and bungee jumping.
Valley of the Butterflies
In a lush, green canyon, about 1km wide, there is a unique forest with zities, trees that look like planes. The smell of the nectar they secrete attracts millions of butterflies of the species Panaxia guadripunctaria, with its trademark four orange dots on each wing. Tread carefully so as not to scare these miraculous little angels away!
Shop till you drop
Inside the Old Town of Rhodes, and also at Mandraki, there are all types of stores – from tourist shops to stylish boutiques with brand-name clothing and accessories.
A stay for every taste
Rhodes is one of the most popular and luxurious destinations in Greece. In Rhodes you’ll find accommodation for every taste. This includes large hotel chains, luxurious all-inclusive resorts, boutique hotels in the Old Town – no matter your style, your stay on this Aegean island will be an enjoyable experience.
If you are a beach lover, Rhodes is the destination for you: infinite beaches of exceptional beauty and activities of all kinds abound. Topping the list are Kiotari, Kallithea, Agathi, Apolakkia, Kolymbia, the Anthony Quinn Beach, Lardos, Afandou with its golf course, Traounou with its motocross tracks, Trianda Tsabika… all wonderful, with sand, crystal-clear water and water sports. Windsurfers flock to Prasonissi, a green island to the south of Rhodes.