While many of the Greek islands are packed with ancient history there are few which can offer a tapestry as rich or diverse as that of Rhodes. Its story has many players –Ancient Greeks, Persians, Romans, Byzantines, Ottomans and Italianshave all featured in the island’s history but of all those who settled here none are as famous as the Crusader Knights. Also known as the Knights of St. John or simply the Rhodes Knights, this military religious order has left behind some astonishing architectural and historical relics which include churches, castles and the entire Old Town of Rhodes which sits in all its medieval glory behind massive encircling walls.
Beyond the grand collection of leftovers from the knights, Rhodes also offers the visitor the chance to explore other historical eras with an array of treasures including its acropolis sites. Here, you can wander amid crumbling ruins of temples, amphitheaters and private dwellings resounding with the echoes of the power and glory of civilizations from long ago.
Fourth largest of all the Greek Islands and largest of the Dodecanese group of which it is a part, Rhodes is otherwise full of things to see and do ranging from taking a Greek cookery class to visiting a valley filled with clouds of butterflies. Away from the capital and the many sparkling beaches you can find an array of gorgeous countryside villages surrounded by lemon and olive groves and where white-washed houses sprawl down hillsides or sit nestled in valleys, dotted about with picturesque churches or the grand mansions of wealthy sea captains from centuries past. Once the site where the massive Colossus of Rhodes soared above the harbor –a statue so magnificent it was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World –Rhodes is anisland for all-comers, with enough to keep its visitors engrossed, fascinated and entertained for some considerable time.
A morning on Rhodes
Begin your explorations of this historically-rich island with a serene wander surrounded by the sounds of bird song and gently falling water at one of the world’s oldest parks. Once you have taken a morning coffee break you can plunge yourself into the medieval world of the Rhodes Knights, discovering the endless treasures which sit behind their fortified walls.
Less than two miles from the center of Rhodes Town but barely mentioned in any tourist literature, Rodini Park is a true hidden gem, albeit one that in reality is hidden in plain sight. Totally free to visit, this serene, shaded and beautiful park is often all but empty and makes for a start to your day that is both tranquil and magical.
Like so many things in Rhodes, this park has an ancient history, known to have been used by the Romans and with an atmospheric section of an old aqueduct stillvisible. This makes Rodini one of the planet’s most ancient landscaped parks while the island’s famous knights also utilized the area, growing medicinal herbs here.
Idyllic, rustic and with a secret garden feel, Rodini has a natural stream running throughits center, crossed by enchantingly ramshackle wooden bridges. Elsewhere the park is a series of romantically crumbling stone steps, rock tunnels, tiny weaving pathways and many old stone walls and arches covered in tree roots, mosses and ferns. The soft soundtrack in this sun-dappled little oasis is that of birdsong combined with the weirs, tiny waterfalls and water tumbling over rocks or gurgling peacefully along channels connecting old water features. This is occasionally interspersed with the raucous cry of one of the peacocks who live here.
Benches are scattered around for you to pause amid a wealth of greenery to watch the ducks, fish and turtles as the tree branches and leaves create a play of light and shade on the stream.
Another nature alternative to Rodini Park for beginning your day can be found a little further south, at Butterfly Valley. While the trails of this beautiful hill-surrounded wooded area can be walked year round, the best time to visit is between June and September when the valleyis overrun by vibrant butterflies, Drawn here to feed on the resin of the trees and reproduce at the end of their life-cycle, the butterflies congregate here in their thousands, completely covering the tree trunks and frequently rising in huge clouds of orange, black and white to move about.
morning coffee on rhodes
The Old Town of Rhodes, where you are headed next, is full of cute cafes, tavernas and bars. Several, in the most obvious spots, are decidedly tourist-oriented while away from the major sights can be found the real gems. These are the kind of places which are not advertised anywhere and are best found yourself by simply wandering. Many of the greatest finds of all, those more frequented by locals than visitors, are typically found in the New Town which, although not as ancient as its Old Town counterpart, also has its own history and beauty.
One exceptional option which proves such a point is the lovely Christo’s Garden Cafe Bar.
Located in the beautiful old courtyard of an artist’s home, all restored over several years by his own hands, everything about this exquisite secret spot is elegant and tasteful. Making you feel as if you have stepped back to some bygone day, all is a vision of whitewashed stone with floors of pebble mosaics, trailing vines and planted pots with an array of beautiful decorative details. Seating choices include cushioned stone benches, director chairs and some tiny little nooks where you can hide away completely.
Christo’s is principally open in the evenings as a bar but if you are lucky you will find this extra-special cafe open for a morning coffee.
If you prefer to swap the artistic andhidden away coffee break surroundings for a wide open one with a great view check out La Veranda, located in the Jewish Quarter of the Old Town. While the Knights Quarter is always bustling, this part of the Old Town is generally quieter and being mainly residential is the least developed of the quarters in terms of tourism. La Veranda is located in a beautiful building adorned with flower boxes on the north side of the Jewish Martyrs Square and has a third floor open-air terrace which gives you views across the Old Town rooftops and on to the sea beyond. If you prefer there is a smaller and more intimate veranda area too, from which this cafe takes its name and directly overlooks the square.
Opening its doors at 10 am in time for coffee and not closing them again until the last of the after-dark drinkers and diners have gone home, La Veranda is known for amazing hospitality and has a range of hot and cold drinks to choose from.
rhodes old town
Originally founded as a holy organization to care for sick and injured pilgrims in the Kingdom of Jerusalem after the First Crusade, the Knights Hospitaller developed into a Catholic military order whose purpose was to defend the Holy Land. When the kingdom was seized by Islamic forces in the late 13thcentury the knights found a new home on Rhodes and here they stayed for more than two centuries until 1522.
With many of the Greek islands subjected to frequent raids by Barbary pirates, effective defense was essential to survival so the knights built their city behind massive walls, almost 40 ft thick in places and reinforced with towers, bastions and artillery platforms from which they could fight off any attacks. Around this was added a massively wide defensive ditch or dry moat.
Having successfully seen off a series of attacks over the years, the end finally came for the knights in 1522 when a Muslim force of 400 ships arrived, laying the castle to siege. Numbering just 7,000 men to the Sultan Suleiman’s 100,000, the knights managed to hold the city for six months, losing only 2,000 men to the enemy’s 50,000. The conquering Turks, impressed with the resilience and bravery of the defense, allowed the surrendered knights and Christian citizens to leave the city unmolested.
For the following four centuries the Turkish occupiers then added their own distinctive touches to the town, including baths and mosques, before the Italians took over in 1912.
Today, stepping inside this sealed area through one of its seven gates is to enter an incredible open-air museum where, in many places, time has all but stood still. Despite its antiquity, the citadel remains remarkably well-preserved and is the largest medieval city on the continent. Such factors have led to Rhodes Old Town being awarded UNESCO World Heritage Site status, the organization describing it as ”one of the most beautiful urban ensembles of the Gothic period”.
The area of most interest to visitors and where all of the sights pertaining to the knights are located -including the palace -is in the north. Besides being entirely surrounded by protective walls, the town inside the fortifications during the age of the knights was also further divided. Those belonging to the religious order ensconced themselves behind a high wall which separated their upper town –also called the Castello, Collachium and the Knights Quarter -with the lower town. This lower section is made up of the Turkish Quarter (also known as the Hora) with its mosques and once the main commercial district and the Jewish Quarter in the south-east corner, today mostly a residential area.
Essential highlights of Rhodes old town
Free to wander wherever you wish, you can simply stroll these traffic-free streets of antiquity, encountering its various treasures as you go but if you are limited on time you may want to be a little more organized to ensure you don’t miss any of the major highlights. If you decide to explore independently your first stop should be the tourist office onthe Street of the Knights where you can pick up free maps and useful information to enrich your visit while a number of information boards as you go also help you to identify what you are seeing. The other option is to sign up to a tour which not only leaves the route planning in the hands of knowledgeable guides but ensures you get the fascinating background stories and history of the major landmarks.
The Temple of Aphrodite
Entering the Old Town by the Liberty Gate, you will arrive at the fenced-offruins of the Temple of Aphrodite. Pre-dating the knights’ era by many centuries, this small temple dates from the third century BC and there is little to see beyond fallen stones with carvings and a handful of columns. However, as one of the few remainingancient ruins within the old walls it has great historical significance.
Our Lady of the Castle (Panagia tou Kastrou)
Within the confines of the fortified Old Town can be found a remarkable number of churches, most of them worthy of a visit, many of them filled with medieval frescoes and several of them converted to mosques when the Ottomans drove out the military knights in the 1500’s. Besides those beautifully maintained and preserved, there are also a few ruined churches and arguably these are the most atmospheric of all.
Our Lady of the Castle is one such of these, found a minute’s walk south from the Temple of Aphrodite. Originally dating from the 11th century, added to by the knights when they arrived and then later converted into a mosque, this brooding construction is now just a shell but is beautiful inside nonetheless.
The Knights’ Hospital
Considered to be the best preserved among many astonishingly well-preserved buildings, this austere-looking15thcentury structure which sits at one endof the famous Street of the Knights in Hospital Square now houses the Archaeological Museum. Sitting sentinel out front is a stone lion, worn by weather and the centuries and looking decidedly sphinx-like.
The massive museum inside holds endless treasures, covering not just the medieval era of the knights but also those before it including the Roman, Mycenaean and Hellenistic ages. Greatest of all the priceless jewels here is considered to be that of a first century BC marble statue salvaged from the seabed nearby entitled ‘Aphrodite Bathing’.
The Street of the Knights
Connecting two of the town’s east/west gates and linking the hospital to the Palace of the Grand Master, the Street of the Knights (or Ippoton) runs in a straight line for 600m, cobbled its entire length. On either side rise unbroken lines of buildings, mostly austere in their Gothic architecture. As the street is relatively narrow and the buildings relatively tall this stretch is often in complete shadow which adds to the brooding atmosphere.
This street is where the knights ‘inns’ were located – headquarters assigned to each ‘tongue’ of the order and organized according to nationality and language. These inns were also used as lodgings, residences, meeting places and dining halls while the Grand Master – the individual who united the divisions of the order and governed all of them – had his own palace.
The largest of these headquarters is the Inn of Spain while the most distinctive is the Inn of France, the only one of the buildings with any ornamentation as most are relatively unadorned and indistinguishable from each other save for their individual coats of arms.
The Palace of the Grand Master
Magnificent and vast, the 14th century palace of the head of the knights’ order looks today exactly as it did when medieval knights would have passed between the two soaring towers to gain entry. Itself a heavily fortified castle with crenelated ramparts, the palace is exceptionally impressive, home to a huge inner courtyard and around 150 rooms, some of which are open to the public to explore.
While the exterior remains virtually unchanged from its original construction hundreds of years ago the interior has undergone extensive remodeling and rebuilding. The attack and siege which eventually led to the departure of the knights in the 1500s took its toll, followed by a huge explosion in 1856, caused by a gunpowder blast which wrecked much of the palace and the nearby church as well as killing around 4,000 people.
Internally most of the structure you see today is the ornate early 1900s work of the Italians during which time the palace served as a holiday villa for a king and later for the country’s infamous Fascist ruler, Mussolini.
Among the palace’s many treasures and striking features are its stunning floor mosaics dating from the 1st century BC and pillaged from Kos, ancient sculptures and many relics from the time of the knights. The two museums here respectively cover the medieval era of the knights and the more ancient history of the island.
The Roloi Clock Tower
Just south of the palace can be found the lovely Roloi Clock Tower which although originally constructed in the 7th century was another victim of the 1856 gunpowder blast. The Turks rebuilt it, incorporating the present Baroque style and today it is possible to climb it. After ascending a series of wooden steps your reward will be a full 360-degree panorama of the entire Old Town and beyond. If you find yourself in need of refreshment after the exertion your entrance ticket entitles you to a free drink at the cafe which sits at the tower base.
The Suleman Mosque
While the majority of visitors focus their attention on the Knights Quarter the lower town, made up of the Turkish and Jewish quarters, is also rich in antiquities and monuments. Unfortunately, it isn’t possible to see it all with limited time but the Suleman Mosque ranks as a must-see inclusion.
Once the knights had been ousted and the Turks took control of the town they set to converting the many churches into mosques. Some, however, they built from scratch such as the 1522-constructed Suleman Mosque with its distinctive pink dome and elegant minaret. Just a stone’s throw south from the clock tower, it is worth passing by here to see this significant piece of the Rhodes Town story even though you can’t go inside.
Lunch on Rhodes
Although the continuous distraction of a series of wonderful sights can make you forget the ground you are covering in Rhodes Old Town, there will come a point when your exertions underneath the bright Greek sun will leave you in need of refueling. Now is the ideal time to pause for lunch and the area within these old walls built by the knights of long ago has an incredible array of choice.
While the tavernas and cafes located in the Knights Quarter are the most popular you might like to take this opportunity to see something of the other historic quarters and escape the crowds a little.
For a true little oasis of calm make your way to the lovely Nireas, tucked away in the Jewish Quarter at the edge of a peaceful square steeped in reminders of the past.
Here, beneath a shady canopy woven from vines of jasmine, honeysuckle, bougainvillea and grape, you can settle down at a petal-strewn alfresco table to prepare yourself for a high-quality seafood feast. Run by the welcoming Tsikis family, at the long-established Nireas your fellow lunch diners are much more likely to be locals than tourists as this little leafy gem takes you off the beaten track.
The specialty here is fantastically prepared seafood – often claimed by its many fans to be among the best on the island –with its wide range including mussels, shrimp, squid, tuna steak, whole grilled fish and more. There is plenty of other options for non-seafood fans too, all of the same high quality along with constantly attentive and smiling staff.
Another option, just a stone’s throw from Nireas is Romios – one for those seeking a lunch of traditional island and Greek fare. Giving you the same serenity and off-the-beaten-path advantages of Nireas, the setting this time places you beneath the sprawling branches of a huge four-century-old fig tree in a gorgeous garden spread with white-linen covered tables. There is also a beautiful interior dining space, the atmosphere and decor of which leave you in no doubt as to your historic surroundings.
Although everything about this lovely restaurant screams class –from its overall appearance to its high levels of food quality and service –Romios is totally lacking in pretension and when it comes time to pay the check you are going to be surprised that this level of sophistication comes so reasonably priced.
The menu of Romios is truly vast, offering not just Greek dishes but wider Mediterranean cuisine too. There are options for mezze if you want to try a little of everything or a set three-course lunch menu which offers incredible value. Serving everything from octopus in an orange sauce to chocolate souffle and ginger meatballs to mulberry panacotta, the portion sizes at Romios are decidedly generous and there is an excellent wine list with both Greek and international inclusions.
An Afternoon on rhodes
While the most popular sights of Rhodes tend to revolve around its famous knights, the island’s history fetches far further back than this to the truly ancient periods of the Hellenistic age and the Roman and Byzantine empires. The entire island holds preserved relics of this long ago past, arguably the most celebrated of which is the Lindos Acropolis. Here you can ascend stone staircases which have been trodden by feet for more than 2,000 years and enter the once-magnificent Temple of Athena.
After admiring the sensational views from this ancient site you can explore the beautiful village of Lindos which sits below it, taking time for a little gift shopping or swimming in the brilliant blue bay which is almost entirely rock surrounded, save for a narrow channel that leads out to sea.
the Lindos acropolis
With its ancient history and stark-white columns rising majestically against the blue sky, the Acropolis of Lindos is both a spectacular sight and a fascinating place to explore. Additionally, it also happens to sit perched in all its splendor on a jutting cliff top 380ft above sea level, offering the kind of dazzling views that are guaranteed to leave you speechless.
Located around an hour’s journey from Rhodes Town, the story of this amazing citadel includes chapters from almost every civilization that has left its mark on the island over thousands of years –the Ancient Greeks, the Romans, the Byzantines, the Rhodes Knights and the Ottomans.
As a site offering natural protection and the ability to see for miles around, humans have long used this vantage point to raise settlements, beginning with the Dorians in the 10thcentury BC. The first defensive fortifications were constructed around 400 years later and, as the island moved successively through Hellenisticand Roman eras, the citadel centered around its massive temple grew in both size and importance.
When the Rhodes Knights took control of the island they built their own fortress here, its 14th century walls and defensive towers following the natural lines as set out by the rock-perch landscape. The entire acropolis now lies within this castle with its two surviving towers and it is thought that much of the original acropolis was either destroyed or built over by the knights’ own constructions during this period.
Thankfully not everything truly ancient disappeared and what remains of this once-glorious site is still impressive, its treasures including the Temple of Athena, a columned stoa, a theater and a Byzantine church. Exploring these ruins gives you the rare opportunity of experiencing both ancient history and that of the medieval knights side by side.
The acropolis is entered after a short steep climb and, before entering the medieval walls of the knights, you will see a more than 2,000-year-old reliefcarving on the rock of a warship, just its stern remaining. Once inside the fortress you pass through a wing of the portico or stoa, with several of its columns dating from about 200 BC still standing and ascend an ancient stairway to arrive at the gateway to the temple, known as the propylaea.
The present Temple of Athena dates from around 340 BC but there was at least one temple on the site before that. Today little remains of this once-magnificent sanctuary beyond a handful of columns, the base of a statue and a sacrificial table. Built at the highest point of the site, the panoramic views from the temple are magnificent, allowing you to see the majority of the site’s monuments in one sweep. Also visible is St. Paul’s Bay, said to be where St. Paul cameashorein the first century to preach to the islanders and thus introduce them to Christianity.
When seen from this perspective this beautiful bay, which appears on so much of the island’s tourist literature and postcards, appears to be an enclosed lagoon of brilliant blue, its small passageway to the sea hidden by rocks. West of this your vantage point allows you to overlook the village of Lindos, its entire collection of buildings and houses almost exclusively white.
The acropolis site is also home to the ruins of an ancient 1,800-seat theater, the remains of a Roman temple and the church of St. John which, dating from around the 13th century, represents a recent addition despite being at least 700 years old.
Interestingly and remarkably, Rhodes has more than one acropolis site –the generic term ‘acropolis’ used to refer to any ancient and fortified Greek city. One of these is found very close to Rhodes Town on the north of the island at the top of Monte Smith Hill, another is Ancient Kamiros, some 25 miles south-west of the capital of the island.
Although the acropolis takes headline billing here, the gorgeous white-washed village of Lindos which spills down the hillside from the fort like a jumble of sugar cubes is worthy of a visit all on its own.
Here a maze of pebble-mosaic-paved alleys, traditional tavernas and sea-captains’ houses from the 1600s join a further collection of buildings and homes dating from long centuries past, leading down to a pond-like bay of astounding blues. The village’s beginnings stretch back 3,000 years, growing into a settlement which was at the height of its importance around 2,500 years ago when it was a great trading center and home to many thousands of citizens. In 408 BC Rhodes Town became the island’s new capital and Lindos’ importance passed, with successive chapters of history giving it Frankish, Byzantine and Turkish additions. Today the pedestrian-only village is a far smaller affair, in essence just one more beautiful Rhodes village although one which sees a steady stream of visitors thanks to the acropolis site and fort which loom above it.
Lindos’ collection of tiny shops and cute boutiques makes it a great destination for a spot of souvenir shopping. Although you will find a certain amount of lower-quality mass-produced goods aimed at tourists there are also some gems here such as the local ceramics, hand-crocheted linens, leather goods and hand-crafted jewelry.
The small red-roofed Church of Panagia in the village center is one of its highlights with its beautiful soaring bell tower visible from almost everywhere. The original parts of the church date back to the 14thcentury with various additions and alterations made over the centuries such as those of the 15thcentury by the Rhodes Knights and the Italian 20th-century reconstructions.
On entering this church filled with incense aromas you are instantly struck by the wealth of color as almost every available surface of its walls, roof and inner dome is covered with frescoes, the oldest from around the late 1700s. Besides the dog-headed depiction of St. Christopher (something not unusual in Greek Orthodox icons), other notable features include a carved altar screen, an ornate bishop’s throne and a beautiful chandelier.
It is worth noting that to visit the interior of this church you will need to cover both knees and shoulders as a mark of respect.
pre-dinner drinks and dinner on rhodes
Boasting some of the best restaurants in this island group, Rhodes won’t disappoint the foodies. The settings for both drinking and dining include historical houses and courtyards in the Old Town and both the ancient and newer parts of townoffer a range of rooftop terraces for incredible views. Beyond the capital, a whole other set of options can be found, nestled within beautiful villages or set up at one of its beaches.
With your afternoon finishing amid the gorgeous streets of Lindos you may decide to hang around here to drink and dine, both of which you can do while simultaneously gazing at the knights’ fort on the hilltop, very close by.
Located just inland from the beach at Lindos, the gorgeous Rainbird Bar gives you a choice of spots from which to enjoy sundowners, all of them charming. If you want some elevated views of the beach and the greenery-clad countryside which backs it you can head for the terrace. Here sofas and chairs sit upon a lovely pebble mosaic floor, adorned with colorful shabby-chic-style rag-rug cushions.
Alternatively, find yourself a spot in the lovely courtyard where the grapevines hanging down from a pergola and a wealth of greenery give these enchanting surroundings a secret garden feel.
For sundowners with a difference make your way to Kallithea Beach, five miles south of Rhodes Town on the east coast. Here you will find the Oasis Beach Bar, literally inside the mouth of a cave. The seating here comes in the form of natural rock ledges at the cave entrance that are strewn with rainbow-colored cushions or you can relax on one of the stone benches carved straight out of the rock. There are additional tables and chairs of the more conventional kind set out on the wooden deck which sits in front of the cave and, if you want to be even closer to the water, there is a further range of loungers set around the sand or on the tucked-away rock ledges of this intimate little cove.
Later in the evening this unique spot becomes a nightclub and dance venue with both live musicians and DJs.
If you chose to enjoy your pre-dinner drinks inLindos it isn’t hard to find a collection of places to dine, all close by. The majority of the options seem to offer something ranging from special to sublime with Kalypso allowing you to step through the doors of a former sea captain’s stone-built villa from the 1600s and dine beneath the stars at one of two roof gardens.
If the sun is yet to sink the view is lovely but once darkness descends it becomes, if possible, even more magical. The villages lights and lanterns wink on for romantic night views while above you the medieval fort is sensationally lit at night, appearing almost to hover in the sky.
The interior dining area is also lovely, its walls filled with family relics such as the boat-repair tools of the owner’s grandfather and displays of Lindian plates, intricately hand-painted in traditional designs.
Kalypso offers both local and wider Mediterranean dishes, making use of the island’s own fresh produce and locally-caught seafood. Potential treats include feta and tomato home-made bread, a pastadish known as makarounes and grilled lamb chops.
With its unbeatable historic setting Old Town Rhodes offers a plentiful supply of lovely dining possibilities. The Knights Quarter tends to be the most sought-after but head away from this busier area and you will find some real gems. One such of this kind, found in the Turkish Quarter, is the Marco Polo Cafe whose rather humble-sounding title gives no clue of what to expect here.
This restaurant is actually part of the 15th century Marco Polo Mansion, a plush hotel whose beginning dates back to the wealthiest period of the Ottomans’ occupation of Rhodes.
Tucked away down a narrow alley and without obvious signage, this lovely venue isnot easy to find but it is perennially popular for obvious reasons. The inner courtyard setting is highly romantic, placing you amid trees laden with fruit and an abundance of plants that fill the air with the fragrance of lemons and exotic flowers.
Seated at your marble-topped table beneath a canopy of stars, you can peruse the extensive menu with a glass of wine to hand, surrounded by centuries of history. Offering Greek cuisine, the Marco Polo Cafe is known for its interesting twists on some traditional classics of both fish and meat. Possibilities include lamb souvlaki and a sesame-coated tuna steak while the dessert menu, guaranteed to make your mouth water just by reading the options, has more than a touch of Italian influence.
an evening on rhodes
While you may just want to spend your evening hours unwinding and relaxing at one of the island’s many bars after an adventure-filled day you can also continue your day of exploration, should you choose to do so, even once night descends.
The island’s menu of things to see and do after-dark is a diverse one, offering everything from Segway night tours to theater performances.
Like many of the old town areas of the Greek islands, Rhodes Old Town is beyond enchanting when lit at night and strolling its ancient cobbled streets is a whole different experience to doing so in the day. Less crowded, cooler and highly atmospheric, wandering here after dark allows you to explore areas you weren’t able to fit in during the day. Additionally, the illuminated relics, ruins and historic landmarks of the town appear almost fairy-tale-like at night, making it easier to imagine the glorious era of the knights orthe empirical period of the Ottomans who came after.
You can make your own way on foot or sign up for a guided night tour with other choices including explorations by Segway, a sedate horse-and-carriage journey and a mini train ride.If you choose to stroll the historic Mandraki Harbor area instead, just north of the Old Town’s walls, you can take in a few more of the island’s landmarks as well as visiting the site where the mighty Colossus of Rhodes once stood.
One of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, the Colossus was a massive bronze statue of the sun-god Helios that soared to a height of over 100ft, around that of the Statue of Liberty without its base. Erected in 280 BC, this huge image only stood for a few decades before it was toppled by an earthquake, its shattered fragments left to lie where they had fallen for hundreds of years. On taking over the island in the seventh century BC, the Arabs sold off the pieces with popular legend telling of how it took almost 1,000 camels to transport them all.
The Colossus is most often depicted as dramatically straddling the harbor entrance, dwarfed ships passing beneath its legs as they sailed into port. Although not proven one way or the other, historians now believe, however, that the giant statue was actually sited somewhere closer to where the Palace of the Grand Master now stands. Today, two deer statues on stone plinths mark the spots where traditional stories site the feet of the original Colossus.
Besides the Colossus site, a walk along the harbor esplanade – the long thin arm of the marina’s breakwater – will take you past a trio of medieval windmills and out to the small St. Nicholas Fort which was constructed by the knights in the 15th century.
Are you ready to have the experience of a lifetime in Rhodes? Contact one of our vacation planners today to find the right cruise for you!