The fortifications of the town of Rhodes that are seen now were built by the Knights Hospitaller of Saint John starting in 1309 CE but were an enhancement of the existing Byzantine walls from the 3rd century BCE although the town had a defensive wall as early as the late 4th century BCE. Indeed it was these walls that enabled the occupants to resist the siege of Demetrius Poliorketes king of Macedonia, in 305 BC. It was this victory that inspired the building of the Colossus of Rhodes, one of the Seven Wonders of the ancient world.
The existing fortifications form a large crescent around the medieval town and harbour and are the most intact example of their kind; which is one of the reasons why it was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1988. Consisting of huge walls built on a man made escarpment with bastions, and a wide dry moat with counterscarp. Even today the fortifications look formidable.
|By Aga Khan (IT) - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link|
As usual I have taken an insane number of pictures and here is a selection of the best ones relevant to the Fortress and Old Town of Rhodes.
|The Fortress of Rhodes and the Grand Master Palace as seen from out in the harbour|
|The Liberty Gate is one of the main access points for tourists.|
|The D'Amboise Gate is very well preserved and much quieter. A raised drawbridge would once have been in position here.|
|Gate of St John is still accessible to pedestrians, mopeds and even the occasional small car.|
|The Naillac Tower protects the outer walls and the Kolona Harbour|
|The wide dry moat fully encompasses the landward portions of the 2.5km walls.|
|The Palace of the Grand Master|
|Windmills on the Mandraki Harbour walls|
|Another shot of the wide moat and concentric rings of walls and towers that make this such a formidable fortress|
|The Grand Masters Palace. This building was restored between 1937-1940 while the island was under Italian rule.|
|The interior is spectacular and includes a huge stone dedication from the architect of the restoration to Benito Mussolini for whom the Palace was restored as a holiday home (he never visited!)|
|The interiors are equally amazing and include mosaics and marbles from across the Doddecanese islands.|
|Inside the walls is the Old Town...probably the best preserved medieval town in the whole of Europe.|
|The Avenue of the Knights leads up towards the Palace of the Grand Master|
|Inside the Hospital of the Knights of St John (now the cities Archaeological Museum). The Hospital would have been able to provide state of the art - for the 15th century - medicine to pilgrims heading to or returning from the Holy Land.|
|Inside the Great Hall hundreds of patients could have been tended too. The hospital was known for it's Hygiene and the quality of the medicine...all at a price of course.|
|Elsewhere the old town is a mass of small streets filled with hundreds of traders and taverns. This is Socrates Street and is one of the main thoroughfares of the town leading up towards the Suleiman Mosque.|
|Many of the smaller back alleys however are quite, narrow and look completely untouched by time.|
By the end of the holiday I had taken over 1500 photo's (even by my standards, utterly excessive!) but most of them seem to involve pictures of swimming, eating or drinking in various locations, so not relevant to this blog. Like many of the Greek Islands, Rhodes is soaked in history from ancient times right up to WWII so the average wargamer will not have a problem finding something to keep him/herself interested...if you can get around in the high heat/humidity that is.
So I'm back, if not entirely recovered from the journey. I'm still sorting through the rest of my pictures and if I come across anything interesting I'll share it but I'm guessing you won't want to see any pictures of me in my Speedo's!