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A Cultural Guide to Rhodes Town

For many of our guests, Rhodes is a mere transit point en route to the peaceful, unspoilt islands of Halki and Tilos. However, while Rhodes Town is undeniably busier than our wonderful little islands, there’s plenty to be discovered here. Especially if you like history and culture.

Whether you want some inspiration to help you pass the time while waiting for your ferry or you’re interested in tagging on some extra days to explore, we’ve prepared a cultural guide to Rhodes Town, especially for you.

Palace of the Grand Master

Entrance of the Grand Master’s Palace

The Palace of the Grand Master was built in the 14th century by the Knights of St. John. Sitting at the highest point of the old town, its grand exterior looks much the same as it did in medieval times, with imposing round towers flanking the arched gateway.

The inside was destroyed in an explosion in 1856 and restored by the Italians in the 1930s. Now a museum, you can explore 20 or so of the 150 rooms, which contain mosaics, sculptures, furniture, paintings, and exhibitions of medieval, Byzantine and ancient Rhodes.

Walk the Walls

The Medieval Town walls

Accessed via the courtyard of the Palace of the Grand Master, the old town walls are some of the finest medieval fortifications in the world. Over 4 kilometres long and in places up to 12 metres thick, they include towers, bastions, several gates, and some of the best views over the old town and the harbour. 

The walls are only open between noon and 3pm. If you miss this, you can take a stroll in between two sets of fortifications in the moat. This is a great spot for birds and butterflies.

Archaeological Museum (Hospital of the Knights)

On the way to the Museum

The Knights of St. John were dedicated to caring for the sick and poor, which they did from this magnificent hospital in the old town. Now home to the Archaeological Museum of Rhodes, its airy rooms contain finds from excavations around the island, set around a beautiful herb-scented courtyard.

Don’t miss the stunning wall-mounted mosaics and take time to marvel over the exquisite white marble sculpture of a naked girl, known as the ‘Aphrodite of Rhodes’. 

Street of the Knights

The famous street of the Knights

The entire medieval town of Rhodes is worth a wander, but the Street of the Knights is unmissable. Running between the Knight’s Hospital and the Palace of the Grand Masters, this long, steep, cobbled street is like stepping back in time. This is where the Knights used to live and dine in inns or lodges, divided according to their birthplace – England, France, Germany, Italy, Provence, Auvergne and Aragon. It’s an atmospheric spot, so don’t forget your camera!

Acropolis of Rhodes

The Temple of Apollo

If you want a break from the heavy fortifications of the old town, head to the Acropolis of Rhodes, located just out of town at the summit of Monte Smith. Here you can explore an ancient stadium, marvel of the Doric columns of the Temple of Pythian Apollo, and take your seat at an ancient theatre, still used today for various events. Take a moment to enjoy the panoramic views over Rhodes.

Süleyman’s Mosque

Remnants of its Ottoman past are evident in many places around Rhodes. While most mosques now lie in ruins, the impressive pink-and-white domed structure of Süleyman’s Mosque with its elegant minaret is well worth a visit. Built to celebrate Süleyman’s conquest of Rhodes, you can’t currently visit the interior, but the outside is stunning. 

Mandraki Harbour

Mandraki Harbour

The military port of ancient Rhodes, Mandraki Harbour now houses millionaire’s yachts alongside quaint fishing boats. Legend states that the entrance to the harbour was once straddled by the gigantic gold statue of the Colossus of Rhodes. Today, tall columns flank the entrance, topped with bronze statues of a stag and doe, the heraldic symbols of Rhodes.

Three iconic windmills stand on the long breakwater leading to the 15th century fort, another legacy of the Knights of Rhodes.

Modern Art Museum

Finally, a touch of modern culture. The Modern Greek Art Museum presents sculptures, paintings, drawings and engravings that show the history and culture of Greece through the eyes of 20th century artists.

Exploring Rhodes Town with Nissia Holidays

If you’ve enjoyed our guide to Rhodes Town and would like to visit some of these cultural wonders during your stopover to Halki and Tilos, contact Nissia Holidays and we’ll discuss your options.

To find our more about our tiny, unspoilt islands of Halki and Tilos, see our island profile pages. For more information or to book your holiday in Halki or Tilos, contact Nissia Holidays on 01455 289421 or email us: info@nissiaholidays.com.

Jo

Jo worked on Tilos in 2006, as the last Island Manager for Laskarina. She now runs a travel writing business and travel blog, The Wandering Wordsmith, and spends much of her year travelling. But Greece, especially Tilos, will always hold a special place in her heart.

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