Walking Tour of Rhodes, Greece
One of the most interesting of the Aegean Islands is Rhodes. Its Old Town has been inhabited since the 5th century BC. The formidable, Medieval walls were added by the Knights of Saint John in the 14th century AD. The maze of streets is extremely pleasant to stroll.
My walk begins at the Marine Gate which is the prime entryway through the walls into the Old Town from the commercial harbor, where most visitors arrive. Be sure to admire the thick, impressive, 2.5 mile-long city walls, as much as 40 feet thick in places.
When you enter the city, directly ahead is Hippocrates Square. Note the Medieval fountain at its center. From here, head north on Apellon, past the Byzantine Museum, and briefly out of the Old Town, through the Liberty Gate, into New Town.
Ahead is Mandraki Harbor. To your right, on the promontory which extends northward are three Medieval Windmills and the ruins of a 15th century fortress, the Agios Nikolaos (now a lighthouse). Walk along the left side of the harbor.
On your left is the New Market, recognizable by the Moorish domes. It is a popular gathering place and is filled with shops and cafes. Notice the two pillars, at the head of the harbor, which are topped by deer statues, They represent the legendary location of the Colossus of Rhodes, a giant statue of Helios, God of the Sun, which supposedly straddled the harbor entrance. It was one of the original Seven Wonders of the World.
Continue northward along the harbor to see the Church of the Annunciation. Its interior is particularly extravagant. North of the Cathedral is the Italianate Government House, on the right, and the National Theater and the interesting Mosque of Murad Reis, on the left.
From here retrace your steps back through the Liberty Gate for a more thorough exploration of the Old Town. Head south on Appelon, then turn right on Odos Ippoton, The Street of the Knights, one of Europe’s best preserved Medieval streets. The way is lined with "Inns of the Tongues," residences of the knights from the various countries which were represented in the Order. For instance, the archway above the street connects the Inns of Spain and Provence. Also, along the left side as you walk uphill, is the Archaeological Museum.
At the top of the hill, on the right, is the incredible Palace of the Grand Masters. The imposing main gate commands attention. Explore the main courtyard and be sure to check out the handsome mosaics in some of the chambers.
When you leave the palace, turn right, then left onto Odos Orfeos. On the left side of the square up ahead is the Mosque of Suleiman the Magnificent. It was built in 1522 to pay tribute to the conquest of the Knights by the Ottoman Turks.
Now head down Sokratous, one of the main streets in the Old Town. In the labyrinth of narrow alleys on your right are the Mustafa Mosque and the Turkish Baths. Return , if you can find your way back, to Sokratous and turn right (east) heading back to Hippocrates Square.
Next, continue straight ahead, on Aristotelous into the Jewish Quarter of the city. At the Square of the Jewish Martyrs, straight ahead, visit the Hospice of St Catherine. The interior is enchanting. Return to Hippocrates Square and turn left onto Pythagora. At the road’s end, find a convenient location to climb the walls and walk for a while on these incredible fortifications. When finished return to Pythagora and retrace to Hippocrates Square, then turn right to return to the Marine Gate where your walk began.