Medieval City of Rhodes (1988)

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The Order of St John of Jerusalem occupied Rhodes from 1309 to 1523 and set about transforming the city into a stronghold. It subsequently came under Turkish and Italian rule. With the Palace of the Grand Masters, the Great Hospital and the Street of the Knights, the Upper Town is one of the most beautiful urban ensembles of the Gothic period. In the Lower Town, Gothic architecture coexists with mosques, public baths and other buildings dating from the Ottoman period. The name "Rhodes" means "Rose". 

Greece 1993. 2400th anniversary of the City of Rhodes. Greece 1998. Rhodos. Medieval city wall.
  • Far left:  Greece 1993.
    Issued at the 2400th anniversary of the City of Rhodes.  

The stamp shows the Port of the Apostle  Paulus in the medieval fortification of the city.  15th century.

  • Left:  Greece 1998. 
    Medieval city wall. 

Archaeological discoveries indicate that Rhodes figured prominently in the Aegean civilization of ancient times. In the 2nd millennium bc, when the island first appears in history, it was inhabited by the Dorians, and its chief towns were Camirus, Lindus, and Ialysus. These towns were flourishing commercial centers with colonies scattered throughout the Aegean basin. For many centuries the history of the island is obscure, but the three cities are recorded as members, in the 5th century bc, of the Delian League, a confederacy of Greek states under the leadership of Athens. The three cities broke with Athens in 412 bc. In 408 bc the city of Rhodes, constructed according to designs by the Greek architect Hippodamus of Miletus, was completed. Throughout most of the following century, the island was involved in the internecine wars of Greece. In 332 bc Rhodes submitted to the sovereignty of Alexander the Great. On the death of Alexander in 323 bc the citizens of Rhodes revolted and expelled the Macedonians. 

The Island of Rhodes is also known from The Seven Wonders of the World.  The Sun-God Helios protected the city through a statue of c. 30-35 meters tall.  The statue is believed to be made by Chares, and was possibly erected c. 290 B.C.  It was demolished by an earthquake c. 230 B.C. 

  • The stamps shown to the right are from Mongolia and Hungary, respectively. 

Rhodian prosperity and political power attained great heights during the 3rd and 2nd centuries bc. The city became a renowned cultural center, particularly noted for its plastic and pictorial art. Rhodian achievements in these fields found climactic expression in the paintings of Protogenes (flourished 4th century bc) and in the work of Chares (flourished 3rd century bc), creator of the celebrated Colossus (circa 280 bc). In the 1st century bc Rhodian sculptors executed the famous Laocoön. The Rhodians were staunch allies of Rome during this period. In 48 bc they aided Julius Caesar in his struggle against the Roman general and statesman Pompey the Great and the Roman Senate. Another Roman general, Gaius Cassius Parmensis (flourished 1st century bc), one of the assassins of Caesar, invaded Rhodes in 42 bc. He massacred the friends of Caesar, seized the public wealth, and rifled the temples. This attack broke the power of Rhodes, but the city long continued to maintain its prestige as a seat of learning.

Under the Roman Empire Rhodes enjoyed a measure of nominal independence. In ad395, on the division of the Roman Empire, Rhodes was attached to the Byzantine Empire. It remained under Byzantine control until 1309, when it was occupied by the Knights of Saint John of Jerusalem. In 1522, after a sanguinary Ottoman siege led by Sultan Süleyman I, the knights were forced to evacuate the island. Ottoman sovereignty over Rhodes lasted until the Italo-Turkish War (1911-1912), when it was taken by Italy. The island was ceded to Greece in 1947. Area, 1,400 sq km (540 sq mi); population (1981) 87,831.

Source: Microsoft Encarta 2002. 

Other World Heritage Sites in Greece (on this website). Please refer to the UNESCO-listing, Greece-section, for further information about the individual properties.

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Revised 21 jul 2006  
Copyright © 1999 Heindorffhus 
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