Visit Rhodes old town
Rhodes old town is the medieval town of Rhodes, that is enclosed within a massive walls and is recognized by UNESCO as World Heritage Town as well as one of the best preserved medieval towns. Like Carcassone in France or Avila in Spain, this medieval city is quite unique and beautiful. In addition to numerous shops, taverns, clubs and cafes, is home to many buildings from different historical periods ranging from the occupation of the Knights of St. John, Ottoman period and Italian colonization of the Dodecanese.
Its construction began in the 14th century, the year of the occupation of the city by the Order Knights of St. John of Jerusalem. The city is completely surrounded by walls dominant and spectacular in the eyes of the visitor. The old town of Rhodes is historically divided into three zones: The administrative district around the palace of the Grand Master, Kollakio the Street of the Knights, which is still the busiest street of Rhodes and the Village – The area south of the castle where lived citizens of different nationalities.
Today you can enter to the old town of Rhodes crossing several medieval gates; although most visitors enter from the port of Mandraki crossing the old “Gate of Freedom” (Pyli tis Eleftherias) beyond which opens the beautiful Piazza Simi. Here are the ruins of a temple dedicated to Aphrodite, the goddess of beauty, and the Byzantine museum Panagia Kastoru.
Worth the visit the old hospital of the Knights of Rhodes that hosts Arheological Museum. It is an ancient Gothic building located in the square Moussiou. The individual cells where they were the beds of the patient are still visible as well as the refectory, the kitchen. Aphrodite of Rhodes, is the masterpiece of the museum, is alabaster statue depicting the goddess intent to tie her hair. The Archaeological Museum of Rhodes is also home to several collections of finds from excavations carried out in the various islands of the Dodecanese during the Italian occupation.
The famous Street of the Knights of Rhodes facing the famous hostels, the Gothic buildings where the Knights lived . So far we are down to four: The Hotel de Provence, restored at the time of the Italian rule, the Auberge de France from 1509, considered the most interesting building, and the hostel of Spain and of Italy. In the same street is the Museum of Decorative Art.
At the end of the Street of the Knights is the Loggia di San Giovanni which was one of the entrances to the Palace of the Grand Master. The original building was destroyed in the earthquake of 1856 and what we see today is a reconstruction of 1940. Palace was born as a fortress in the 14th century before being rebuilt during the Italian occupation. It was intended for summer residence of Mussolini and the restoration, however, was completed only in 1940, a few years after the Treaty of Paris. Inside you can see mosaics from the island of Kos adorn the rooms that hold magnificent Japanese vases, gifts of Emperor Hirohito to Mussolini.
After visiting the Grand Master’s Palace, take the road that passes close to the Tower Clock and enters the otoman district recognized by the Turkish Mosque of Suleiman the Magnificent (Suleymaniye Cami) built in 1522, shortly after the capture of Rhodes by the Ottomans. The mosque stands on the site of an ancient church dedicated to the Holy Apostles, from which remains the portal. In front of the Turkish mosque it is located the library , that keep interesting miniatures of Koran among the oldest in the world.
The turkish quarter, also called Hora, is the tourist center of the old town of Rhodes. It is worth getting lost in the alleys savoring the scents. A bit hidden, there are some historical sights dating back to the Ottoman period as Turkish baths situated on the square Arionos. The interior of the baths have been restored in 2001 so now are open for public. They are also called “Yeni Hamam” (new spa) as opposed to “Eski Hamam” (old baths) now in ruins and located in the nearby square Evdilou.
The most touristic area of the city of Rhodes is along the streets Socratous and Aristotelous, the longest and most extensive of the old town, where tourists flock to walk. Here you will find several traditional souvenir shops, boutiques, stalls, cafes and bars. The street comes alive after dark with many tourists looking for gifts or a restaurant for a drink and dinner.
Socratous street leads in the beautiful square of Hippocrates where is “Giuderia”, the building also known as the Loggia dei Mercanti, restored by the Italian. Today, the external staircase leads to the upper floor gathering place for tourists who can relax watching the lively square in the center of which is adorned with a small fountain from the Ottoman era.
Another important place between the turkish and Jewish quarter is Platia Evreon Maryron, adorned with a small fountain with statues of bronze seahorses and surrounded by numerous restaurants and bars. The mosque of Ibrahim Pasha marks the end of the Ottoman quarter and the entry into the Jewish part of the city. The so-called Jewish part of the city of Rhodes is the least popular, but no less beautiful. It is worth to get lost in the alleys to take great pictures of its scenic corners. You will find a very interesting Sinagoge Kahal Shalom still in use for a prayer service and a Jewish museum with many photos and testimonials.