Greece

Rhodes … Crusader Castles and Ottoman Splendour

Rhodes Old Town at dusk

They were the Knights Crusaders who lead the Holy wars in the Middle Ages. Among them were the legendary Knights Templars and the Knights Hospitallers. These Christians soldiers recognizable through their long coats with a cross were powerful groups backed by the highest level of society, economically prosperous and politically influential. After the fall of Jerusalem into the hands of the first crusaders in the 11th century the Knights Hospitallers was created in response to the need of caring for the poor and sick pilgrims coming to the Holy Land. The Knights Hospitallers were closely linked to the Hospital of Jerusalem. After the downfall of Byzantine Empire and the rise of Islam the Knights Hospitallers who later differentiated themselves from their military counterpart the Templars, finally established their stronghold on the island of Rhodes. And so our story began …The year 1309 and they were called the “Knights of Rhodes”. They built fortresses around the island and succeeded in holding off Muslim attacks until they finally succumbed under Suleiman The Magnificent who took over the island to become part of the Ottoman Empire. Remnants of the fabulous centuries of the Knights Hospitallers can still be seen in Rhodes Old Town as well as ruins of some of their fortresses perched on hills. Besides military architecture that makes up the island landscape, are the beautiful Ottoman buildings in Rhodes Old Town. Even if the Greek Orthodox religion is predominant, there is still a minority of Muslim Turkish community – legacy of the Ottoman Empire…
Rhodes Old Town a World Heritage site is an amalgamation of fabulous architectural accomplishment illustrating different settlers from Byzantine Empire to the Order of Saint John Knights Hospitallers and the Ottoman Empire. I love scouring the alleys of Rhodes Old Town which make me feel as if I am thrown back into the time of the Crusaders.The street of the knights is where the action takes place. Knights from different origins would have their flags placed in front of their houses. Walk through the many streets lined with Knights palaces interwoven with beautiful mosques, public baths and stop by the Ottoman cemetery with its mosque and an elegant minaret. So now let’s go on our historic walk and discover some fascinating places in Rhodes …

15th century fortress of Monolithos built by the Knights of Rhodes

The old Turkish Muslim cemetery and Murad Reis Mosque

And here is the dome of the Suleiman mosque in Rhodes Old Town

Dome of Suleiman mosque in Rhodes Old Town

And a short drive from the Old Town is the lovely Tsambika monastery with a stunning view. This place is said to have been a temple dedicated to the Goddess Artemis and the icon Panaghia Tsambika inside the small chapel is believed to be miraculous especially for childless women …. A beautiful site and worth the visit that is if you feel courageous enough to climb up the sooooo many steps before reaching the small chapel (to get a glimpse of the miraculous icon and monastery) as well as to enjoy a splendid view.

View of the beach from Tsambika monastery

And here are more images on Rhodes …

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6 replies »

    • Thank you for the lovely comments. Rhodes is indeed an amazing place with a fabulous history … I did not mention the legendary Colossus of Rhodes one of the seven wonders of the ancient world representing Helios the sun god … But I will leave it for another chapter on Rhodes :-)

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