Rhodes is the largest and always the most powerful of the Dodecanese Islands and abounds in beaches, wooded valleys and ancient history. Whether you arrive in search of buzzing nightlife, languid sun worshipping, diving in crystal-clear waters or embark on a culture-vulture journey through past civilisations, Rhodes has it all.
The island is a very popular holiday destination with its beautiful white sands that fringe the dazzling waters of the Aegean. The atmospheric Old Town of Rhodes is a maze of cobbled streets that will spirit you back to the days of the Byzantine Empire and beyond. The medieval arches, ramparts and cobbled streets of the Old Town are a legacy to the Knights of St John and have earned the town a place on the UNESCO World Heritage list.
Rhodes holds a unique position both geographically and historically. Little remains of the ancient past, the main claim to fame had been the 30 metre tall bronze Colossus of Rhodes a statue of the Greek God of the Sun ‘Helios’ which straddled the harbour mouth. One of the Seven Wonders of the World, it was sold off as scrap metal in the 7th century AD after being toppled by an earthquake. There have been plans to re-build the Colossus, which would give the thousands of current day visitors another attraction as well as a welcome revenue raiser for the locals.
In the Middle Age, about 600 – 1600AD Rhodes was a strategically important base for the crusaders, the Order of the Knights of St John. The old town of Rhodes is the largest inhabited medieval town in Europe. Surrounded by fantastic walls three miles long, up to 40 foot thick and encircled by a double moat designed and constructed with no expense spared and using ‘best practice’ engineering skills & materials available at the time. The Crusader Armies came from a variety of European countries and the Old Town still bears evidence of their presence. The City was heavily fortified because Rhodes is very close to the Turkish mainland and unfortunately for the Knights they got their asses kicked by Suleiman the Magnificent and for a considerable time Rhodes was part of the Ottoman Empire.
Today the old town is a fabulous haunt for history buffs and souvenir hunting tourists. There’s a fabulous choice of eating, drinking and entertainment options. My favourite pastime in Rhodes is people watching, there is an everchanging kaleidoscope of activity.
The island has a rich collection of historical sites and monuments that represent Greek history – it is worth visiting on any Greek holiday.