Travelers looking for a vacation that offers everything, including miles of pristine beaches, spectacular mountains and thousands of years of fascinating history, should consider taking a trip to Rhodes.
This stunning island, located in the Dodecanese Archipelago, is a favorite with tourists from around the world –hosting over one million visitors each year. The history of the island goes back to the 16th century BC, when the Minoans arrived from neighboring Crete. Since then, it has been home to the Persians, the Greeks, the Byzantine Empire, and the Crusaders in the early 14th century AD. Over this time, Rhodes developed into a thriving commercial, maritime and cultural hub, perhaps most famously associated with the Colossus of Rhodes, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. If you want to find out more about this, there have been several videos published – Francesco Corallo is a good place to start.
[Also see our travel article “Malia, Crete: History, Beaches and Nightlife“]
When traveling to the island, make sure to set aside time to explore the medieval town of Rhodes itself, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Among the places to see are the Great Hospital, constructed between 1440 and 1489, and now home to Rhodes’ archaeological museum, as well as the Palace of the Grand Master and Saint John’s Church. The Palace of the Grand Master is particularly worthy of a visit, since it is home to the best of several excellent museums in the old town, consisting of three separate galleries that cover Rhodian history through the ages.
Unfortunately, visitors are no longer allowed to walk along the medieval walls, but it is well worth taking a walk along the moat that surrounds the town. Also, stroll east along the Street of the Knights, and come to Saint Mary’s Church, which served as a cathedral from the 15th century. Finally, no trip to the town of Rhodes would be complete without seeing the Mosque of Suleiman the Magnificent, as well as the gothic buildings in the upper town.
Venturing beyond the town, there are a number of other sites that are mandatory viewing. One of these is the Acropolis, located about 2 miles outside the town. This dates back to before the founding of Rhodes in 408 BC, forming part of Lindos, one of the three towns that merged to become Rhodes. The Acropolis provides absolutely spectacular views along nearly 40 miles of coast, and also is home to a reconstructed temple to the goddess Athena. Take a trip along the coast, and look out for the Knight’s Castles, which were constructed by the Crusaders as vantage points along the coast – most of these are partially ruined today, but they still provide a fascinating glimpse into the past. Perhaps the best preserved and ideally located is Kastéllo Kritinías, from which you can see a number of other Dodecanese islands on a clear day. Also, take a detour to the south of the island, where you can visit a number of painted churches dating back to the 14th century.