From Athens we flew to Rhodes, where we spent
a week in a nice house in the town of Koskinou, not far south of Rhodes Town.
It was a traditional house, with a large living room surrounded by sleeping alcoves behind a railing, and a floor made of pebbles.
The old city of Rhodes is a UNESCO heritage
site. It was an ancient city, created in 408 BCE
by the joining together of the island's three prehistoric towns: Ialyssós, Kámeiros, and Líndos.
The island came under Greek, Roman, Arab,
and Byzantine control before being taken by the Knights Hospitaller,
the medieval crusaders, who used the town and the island as their headquarters from 1309 to 1523 CE.
The impressive walls and moat that still surround the old city were built by the Hospitallers.
Once inside the old city, you wander around through narrow cobbled streets.
There are only a few remnants of Rhodes' ancient past.
Most of the monuments of the city date from the Middle Ages and the rule of the Hospitallers.
The Street of the Knights is where the barracks for the crusaders were located: each language group had its own residence.
Near one end of this street is the medieval
hospital. In addition to being crusaders, the Hospitallers also ran medieval
hospitals (hence, their name).
This enormous building, dating from the fifteenth century, now houses the archeological museum.
At the other end of the street is the Palace
of the Grand Master of the Hospitallers.
Though it looks medieval, it was destroyed and then rebuilt in the twentieth century.
It also houses a museum of Rhodes history, and there are conference and performance halls in the huge building.
At the time of our visit, the museum was
highlighting the work of a Greek artist who created
variations of classical paintings from tiny bits of aluminum coke and beer cans (below right).
The Laocoon, a massive sculpture crafted
at Rhodes in the first century BCE, was stolen by the Romans and brought to
It was rediscovered, buried in a hillside, in the early sixteenth century CE, and greatly influenced Michaelangelo in his sculpture.
The original is now in the Vatican Museums, but this replica was made for the museum of the Palace of the Grand Master.
There are other remnants of Rhodes' medieval past here and there within the old city.
The base of the clock tower is also medieval, though the clock itself and the uppermost parts are modern.
In 1523 the Turks conquered the island of Rhodes and it became part of the Ottoman Empire.
There are many remnants of the Turkish past
in the old city, including several mosques with tall minaret towers,
though most of these monuments were sadly closed and neglected--still an unwelcome reminder to modern Greeks.
Most of the mosques had covered fountains
in front of them (like the one below left), since Muslims are supposed to
wash before entering them.
There were also fountains in the gardens behind the homes of wealthy Turks who lived on the island (like the one below right).
This Turkish era cemetery (below left) was abandoned, but the Turkish era school (below right) was being restored.
Rhodes has always relied on trade and commerce, and there was no end to the souvenir shops in the old city.
Several of the gates in the wall surrounding the old city open out onto Rhodes' extensive maritime harbor.
Though the waterfront is mostly industrial, there were a few areas set up for recreation, and there was a cruise ship docked there.
Rhodes is most famous for its Great Colossus,
it was an enormous statue of Helios, the sun god, built in 305 BCE
to celebrate a victory by Rhodes against the Macedonians. It was considered one of the seven wonders of the ancient world,
before it collapsed because of an earthquake in 227 BCE. It was long believed that the statue straddled the entrance to the harbor,
at the spot where the modern sculptures of the stag and the doe are, but that claim has recently been called into question.
There are also windmills along the harbor.
We spent two days in Rhodes Town,
and on the second visit it began to pour down rain while we were out by the windmills:
we were absolutely drenched by the time we walked back across town to the car!
Outside of the old city is the modern city of Rhodes, including the casino that operates out of an art deco hotel built in 1927.
This hotel, and several other buildings in
the newer parts of the city, were built during the Italian era.
The island of Rhodes and all of the other neighboring islands in the Dodecanese group were part of Italy from 1912 to 1947.
Also from the Italian period is the Palazzo Governale, the former headquarters of the Italian government of Rhodes, built in a Venetian style.
Just outside of Rhodes Town is the hill called Moní Filerímou.
It offers sweeping views over the countryside and to the Turkish coast (which is only 11 miles away at its closest point).
At the top of Moní Filerímou
is the site of a former Catholic monastery of Capuchin monks.
The original monastery was built by the Knights Hospitaller, but it was destroyed and rebuilt in the Italian era.
It had a nice "medieval-meets-art deco" feel to it.
It was built over the ruins of ancient Ialyssos, one of the first three towns of ancient Rhodes.
Along the drive to Moní Filerímou we saw this modern house, a gaudy tribute to classical Greece.