Cruise ships dock right by the Medieval City of Rhodes. On an island combining the rich cultures of both Greece and Turkey, the Medieval City showcases both worlds.
The 6th port of call on our Greek Islands cruise, we came into Rhodes with few expectations. We knew there was a lot to see on the island, particularly the famed Acropolis of Lindos. Similar to our Mykonos experience, we wanted to explore the city at hand, so we chose to leave the acropolis for another time. Rhodes has a completely different feel than Mykonos, though!
A brief history of Rhodes
In classical times, Rhodes was part of the Athenian League and was a territory of Greece. It was a famed port town, and was particularly known for the Colossus of Rhodes, a massive iron and bronze statue just shy of 100 feet tall, and one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.
Rhodes eventually fell into Roman control, and after the fall of the Roman Empire, into a millenium of Byzantine rule. The Knights Hospitaller arrived in Rhodes in the 1300s and built structures and fortifications which mostly still stand. The wall around the Medieval City is their work, as well as the Palace of the Grand Masters.
Now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Medieval City is a hodgepodge of the different cultures that grew in and around Rhodes throughout history.
Palace of the Grand Masters
The fortifications are typically medieval European and reminded me a lot of the Dubrovnik walls. The Street of Knights (now housing different embassies) and the Palace of the Grand Masters (6 EUR entry) showcase the history and work of the Knights Hospitaller.
The palace was originally built in the 14th century, and was destroyed by an explosion in the 1800s. However, it was rebuilt in 1940 according to the original design. Exploring the Palace is largely that–there isn’t a guided sequence to follow and you can meander at leisure. Of particular interest in the Palace are the mosaic floors on the second level. During our visit, a contemporary artist had some exhibits in the Palace as well.
Walking around Rhodes
Rhodes is cobbled and full of brick and stone buildings. However, the streets reminded me of shopping bazaars in Istanbul, with canvas awnings to protect you from the elements as you browse. They sell all kinds of things: purses, suitcases, local designs, postcards, liquor. We bought our small Ouzo souvenir bottles here.
It’s easy to walk around town, and there are so many little surprises. We found beautiful fountains, lots of cafes for food and refreshment, and excellent people watching. Coupled with perfectly warm fall weather, we had a lovely time in the Medieval City.