The city of Rhodes was formed in 408 BC when the other cities on the island decided to band together and build a capital city. Through out its history Rhodes has always been a leader in maritime trade. Some times the island was independent and other times conquered or aligned with various empires. The Colossus of Rhodes was built after the city withstood a year long siege by Demetrius of Macedonia. They used the weapons left behind when he withdrew to build a metal statue to their god, Helios.
Even though the statue is no longer around we went to the harbor and stood at the two most likely places it once stood (the Fort of St Nicholas or across the harbor entrance). After that we walked among the streets of the walled city to grasp the impressiveness that has made this a World Heritage Site (It is one of the best preserved and most extensive medieval towns in Europe). It all started when the Knights Hospitaller took the island from the Byzantine Empire in 1310. Under their rule the city was rebuilt into a model of the European medieval ideal. Many of the city’s famous monuments were built during this period. The knights ruled until 1522 when they were defeated by Suleiman the Magnificent after a six month siege. The knights left the island and moved their base of operations to Malta.
Some of the monuments to see in or around the city are:
Palace of the Grand Master of the Knights of Rhodes – You can walk around the outside but inside you will find the most impressive sights in the the courtyard, the first floor (artifacts of Ancient Rhodes), and second floor (decorated rooms and mosaics). The Palace was demolished by a gunpowder explosion in 1856 and reconstructed by the Italians as a summer residence for Mussolini in 1940. This knowledge somewhat lessens the excitement.
Rhodes Archaeological Museum – has two floors and most of the exhibits are on the second floor.
City Wall Walk – On Tuesdays and Saturdays you can walk along the top of the city walls starting from the Palace of the Grand Masters. This is the best way to get an idea of the size of the town and the variety of its architecture.
Museum of Decorative Art – One room museum showing different masks, glass, and other artisans works over the centuries.
Acropolis of Rhodes – located on the highest part of the city and built on stepped terraces. Here you will find the Temple of Athena Polias and Zeus Polieus, Nymphaeums, Temple of Pythian Apollo, Odeon, Stoa building, Artemision, Ancient Stadium.
Aquarium – The Institute of Marine Biology has a really cool doorway with sea creatures molded into the decorations.