looking back … old town rhodes 2021

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My better half & I went to Rhodes for a week – only a week. We stayed at a gorgeous resort on the east coast relaxing, swimming (in the pools – only gravel beaches), enjoying wine & cocktails & excellent Greek food. Of course we made a trip to Rhodes, the city … roaming Old Town Rhodes.

Old Town Rhodes, a car-free area (concerning non-residents), surrounded by strong walls … Our navigation system tried to send us to a parking area within the walled city, but – no chance. (Never trust a navigation system too much!) Finally we found a parking spot near the Marine Gate, one of the historic gates permitting entrance.

Rhodes was the home of the Knights of the Order of St. John before they were forced to leave Rhodes after the Ottoman army conquered the island. Old Town Rhodes was their main defensive fortification – you cannot miss this fact wherever you walk inside Old Town.

However, today it isn’t a giant open air museum …

Entering the area by one of the main gates you’ll find yourself amid living quarters, shops, restaurants … and more. The photos seem to suggest that the area is rather deserted, but that’s only due to Corona times. There are lots of lovely places & alleyways if you like strolling under a blue sky at lovely warm temperatures – not to mention the vast opportunities to buy anything (a tourist may want …).

Everywhere you’ll find historical remains which are combined with modern lifestyle. The arch on the photo below belongs to an old churchyard. The restaurant behind waits for tourists (like many establishments at the moment).

The alleyways are narrow – and most of them rely on cobblestone pavement. (Beware of high heels!) Also it’s always up & down, steep passages climbing to the top of the walls … Always there seems to be some restoration work going on … Small churches are squeezed in …

Back to our churchyard and the remains of a rather large church with three naves. In Old Town there are not only Christian churches, but also mosques built by the Ottoman Empire – and there is a Jewish quarter. Well, we are in a medieval walled city in the mediterranean region.

… and I couldn’t resist to add some more impressions of the gates in the walls. When my better half & I were walking in & out of Old Town we left the area by one gate and re-entered by another. There are 7 main gates from the past (and I think some more here and there from our era).

Always you get the feeling of mightiness, the efforts to make this place safe. Rhodes was always a rich island meaning a destination for any intruders/conquerers … Also after the age of the crusades Rhodes was a main point of defense against the Turkish resp. Ottoman Empire. At the end … Rhodes was lost.

Peeking through an arrow loop reveals the outer fortification which is quite extensive at least at the part pointing inland. (Of course I don’t know how it was centuries ago …) There may have been moats … between the inner and outer walls …

There are not only statues of saints and … (whoever!), but also insignia of former rulers of Rhodes. Time has left its imprint on them all.

A main attraction is the rebuild Palace of the Grand Master (of the Order of St. John). The entrance towers survived the centuries – as I learnt – while the rest was reconstructed (bigger than originally). There is a vast inner courtyard with Greek style statues. The building is a museum nowadays where ancient mosaics from Greek islands are displayed.

Sometimes you need to rest – fortunately there are shadowy squares everywhere with bars and cafés where to enjoy a cold beer and revitalizing yourself. (In general, you are alone, especially when roaming the parts of the walled city which are a little more off the beaten track.)

Believe me – you’ll need a break after some hours of strolling, climbing to the palace on top of Old Town, walking cobbled streets …

On our way out of the walled city: this is the Temple of Aphrodite – you’ll need some imagination …

… and when passing a newer gate there is a glimpse of the harbour where once the Colossus of Rhodes exercised his power!