Medieval Town Walking Tour, Rhodes

Medieval Town Walking Tour (Self Guided), Rhodes

The medieval town of Rhodes is a Unesco World Heritage Site. It is like an open air museum, as every street, square or building evokes a story about the city's ancient times. It is one of the best-preserved medieval walled cities in Europe. Take this self-guided walking tour to visit the most notable landmarks in the old town of Rhodes.
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Medieval Town Walking Tour Map

Guide Name: Medieval Town Walking Tour
Guide Location: Greece » Rhodes (See other walking tours in Rhodes)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 11
Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.9 Km or 1.2 Miles
Author: rose
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Eleftherias (Liberty) Gate
  • Temple of Aphrodite
  • Street of The Knights
  • Palace of the Grand Master of the Knights of Rhodes
  • Mustafa Mosque
  • Rejep Pasha Mosque
  • Ippokratous Square
  • Square of Jewish Martyrs
  • Kahal Shalom Synagogue
  • Jewish Museum of Rhodes
  • Church of the Virgin of the Burgh
1
Eleftherias (Liberty) Gate

1) Eleftherias (Liberty) Gate

Sitting right in front of Symi Square, otherwise known as Place de l’Arsenal, is one of the main entrances into the medieval city of Rhodes – Eleftherias (Liberty) Gate. The original gate on this site dates back to the time of Grand Master Heredia (1377-1396) and used to link the northern flank of the seaside wall to the Mandraki Harbour. Back then it was also colloquially referred to as the Shipyard Gate or Shipyard Vaults, being a short distance from the local arsenal and the knightly shipyards that formed part of the domain of the Langue (Tongue) of France.

Two square towers that once flanked the gate on both sides were razed by the Ottomans in 1910. Historic records indicate that one of them appears on the coat of arms of Grand Master d’Aubusson (1476-1503). The structure shows a pronounced influence of Byzantine architecture, and its dimensions (9.9 meters wide, 5.2 meters high) support the projected use of the passage – letting through voluminous vessels or appurtenances thereof en route to the shipyard. Under the Ottoman rule, this gate may have also operated as a bridge over the water to a basin designated in Turkish as “Eğri Liman” (“Concealed Harbour”).

The ramparts currently seen on top of the wall were erected during the Italian rule (1912-1943). The Italians, who deserve much credit for historical reconstruction in Rhodes, created this gate in 1924 after they had taken possession of the island during WWI. Portraying themselves as liberators from the Ottoman rule, they called it Liberty Gate. Although modern as such, the gate was built in a strict accordance with medieval architectural practice.
2
Temple of Aphrodite

2) Temple of Aphrodite

The Temple of Aphrodite, or rather the remains thereof, located on Symi Square, outside the Eleftherias (Liberty) Gate in the Old Town of Rhodes, serves as a reminder of the splendor of ancient Greece that it once was. The sanctuary dates from the 3rd century BC and was built in honor of Aphrodite, the mythological Greek goddess of love and beauty.

Today the ruins of the formerly majestic temple are surrounded with a small fence. While the site is closed to the public, an information board outside the fence offers a detailed overview of the complex. The descriptions here are written in both Greek and English.

Those determined to have a glimpse of the place's former glory may get close enough to see the old building blocks and fallen columns. Some may even be able to make out some inscriptions on a couple of the flagstones.

The statue of Aphrodite Pudica, currently in the Archaeological Museum of Rhodes, is believed to have once stood in this temple, venerated by ancient worshipers.
3
Street of The Knights

3) Street of The Knights (must see)

The Street of the Knights is one of the most popular destinations in Rhodes. This street runs almost exactly east-west. This ancient cobblestone street takes visitors back to medieval times.

The Street of the Knights is one of the best-preserved medieval streets in Europe. The street runs from the square in front of the Knights' Hospital to the Palace of the Grand Master.

Along the street, visitors will find seven inns representing the seven countries from which the Knights of the Order of St. John came. The knights came from England, Germany, Italy, France, Aragon, Provence, and Auvergne.

Most of the Grand Masters were French, and the Inn of France is the most impressive of the inns. These inns were all constructed in the early 1500s and have been exceptionally preserved. The Chapel of the French Langue is next door to the Inn of France. The Chapel boasts a sculpture of the Virgin Mary with Christ. In addition, the Chapel features a Coat of Arms belonging to Grand Master Raymond Beranger, who was Grand Master in the mid-1300s.

Opposite the Inn of France, visitors will find a beautiful garden and an ancient Turkish fountain.

This street gives visitors a wonderful insight into Rhode's medieval architecture.
4
Palace of the Grand Master of the Knights of Rhodes

4) Palace of the Grand Master of the Knights of Rhodes (must see)

The Palace of the Grand Master of the Knights of Rhodes is also known as the castle. According to archeologists, the palace sits on the site of an ancient temple dedicated to the Sun-god Helios.

This impressive medieval Gothic palace was originally built in the seventh century. Over its history, it has served as a Byzantine citadel, a palace, a fortress, and as headquarters. It sits on the highest point in Rhodes.

During the 14th century, the Knights Hospitaller used the palace as an administrative center and the Grand Master's palace. The Ottoman Empire captured the island in 1522, and the palace became a command center and fortress. In the early 20th century, Italian King Victor Emmanuel III and Benito Mussolini used the palace as a holiday home.

In 1948, Rhodes was transferred to Greek rule, and the palace was turned into a museum.

Two large towers flank the main entrance. The palace is arranged around a central courtyard. Hellenistic and Roman period statues line the courtyard.

The floors of the palace are decorated with impressive mosaics from the Hellenistic and Roman periods. Visitors are welcome to tour the palace rooms. Visitors can also access a small museum from the courtyard. The museum hosts an exhibition that shows 2,400 years of Rhodes history.

Why You Should Visit

The Palace is enormous, and the fortifications in place are impressive. The museum immerses visitors in the long, storied history of this fascinating city.
5
Mustafa Mosque

5) Mustafa Mosque

The Mustafa Mosque was built to honor Sultan Mustafa III in the mid-18th century. After the Ottoman Turks conquered Rhodes in the 16th century, they brought their religious and architectural influences to the city.

Four pillars were used to support a porch. The porch no longer stands, but visitors can see the remains of the pillars.

The mosque's dome and minarets were destroyed and have not been replaced. However, this beautiful mosque is still used today for weddings and special events. In the courtyard, visitors will find an attractive and unique 12-sided fountain with beautiful carvings.
6
Rejep Pasha Mosque

6) Rejep Pasha Mosque

The Rejep Pasha Mosque is one of the 14 mosques in Rhodes’ Old City. It is considered historically important as one of the earliest examples of the Ottoman influence on the island. Constructed in 1588 from the remains of destroyed churches, it is best known for containing the tomb of Rejep Pasha. It also features impressive minarets, a dome, mosaics and a stunning fountain.

The mosque had recently been reinforced to strengthen the ageing foundations; however it has also suffered recent collapses, which have extensively damaged the Colonnade, extending from the Prayer Hall, and placed pressure on the entire structure.

Following a restoration, there have been plans to turn it into a museum for Islamic art. Indeed, the mosque is known to have a great deal of impressive Islamic art within its walls. The future of the iconic and historically significant mosque is up in the air, due to lack of funding. Without extensive reparations it may not be around for much longer and its future depends on significant restoration and structural renovations.
7
Ippokratous Square

7) Ippokratous Square

Ippokratous Square lies in the medieval walled city of Rhodes. In the center of the square stands an ornamental fountain, which, along with a grand staircase from the south west section, is the only remaining evidence of the Castellania, an important building constructed by the Knights Hospitaller in the 14th century. When you enter the Old City by the Marine Gate, you will find yourself in Ippokratous Square, which is a great place to start your exploration of this UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The square is very popular with locals and tourists alike, who enjoy coffee, dining or drinks from one of the many alfresco cafes and bars that are scattered around its periphery. You may want to soak up the atmosphere at one of the cafes before explore the old city.

There are also a number of cultural and historic sites on Ippokratous Square, including the Castellania Library, which is a treasure trove of ancient books and documents. The library is housed in Epavlis Mansion and features a music department and exhibition space along with the library tomes. Ippokratous Square is also where Sokratous Street, one of the most popular commercial streets on the island, begins.
8
Square of Jewish Martyrs

8) Square of Jewish Martyrs

The Square of Jewish Martyrs is also called Sea Horse Square, because there is a charming sea horse fountain located here. The square's Holocaust Memorial pays tribute to the 1,604 Jews of Rhodes that were sent to die at Auschwitz. Only 151 Jews survived the Holocaust. Today there are only about 35 Jews living in Rhodes.
9
Kahal Shalom Synagogue

9) Kahal Shalom Synagogue (must see)

The Kahal Shalom Synagogue is a Sephardic Jewish synagogue located in the Jewish Quarter of the city. There have been Jewish people in Rhodes for more than two millennia and, although they were often persecuted under the Romans and Knights of Rhodes, they enjoyed peace and prosperity under Ottoman rule and this encouraged even more Sephardic Jews to settle here.

Built in 1577, the Kahal Shalom is Greece’s oldest surviving and continuously used synagogue. However, much of the local Jewish community emigrated following the Italian take over the Dodecanese Islands in 1912, especially during the fascist era.

The layout of the building is typical of most Sephardic synagogues with the Tevah, where the Torah is read, in the center of the sanctuary. The striking floor of the interior space is a mosaic made of black and white local stones and there are two unusual Torah arks on each side of the interior courtyard.

There are several plaques relating to the history of the Jewish community, adorning the walls of the interior and exterior of the synagogue in Ladino, the Sephardic language, Hebrew and even French. There is a museum attached to the synagogue, which highlights the history of the Jewish people in Rhodes. The complex is also often used for community events.
10
Jewish Museum of Rhodes

10) Jewish Museum of Rhodes

Rhodes was host to a vibrant Jewish community on Rhodes, which was known as La Juderia. Jews had settled in Rhodes since at least the second century BC when they were mentioned in the Book of Maccabees. Ancient alleys in the Juderia quarter bear Jewish symbols. In the 12th century, Rabbi Benjamin of Tudela found 400-500 Jews living in Rhodes.

The museum is housed in the Kahal Shalom Synagogue. The Synagogue was founded in 1577 and is the oldest Jewish synagogue in Greece. A significant number of Jews fled the Spanish Inquisition and found refuge in Rhodes. By the 1930s, about 4,000 Jews were living in Rhodes.

But the holocaust ended this vibrant community. The museum memorializes the 2,500 Jews from Rhodes and Kos who were killed in Nazi concentration and labor camps.

Museum exhibits include a collection of photographs that provide insight into Jewish life on Rhodes. Artifacts include a 16th century Torah scroll and historical documents, traditional costumes, and textiles.

Tips

You can download an audio tour of the museum on your smartphone.

Operation hours: April 15 - November 15: Sunday - Friday: 10 am - 3 pm
11
Church of the Virgin of the Burgh

11) Church of the Virgin of the Burgh

The Church of the Virgin of the Burgh lies at the eastern edge of the Rhodes Old City, in the Jewish Quarter. The 14th century construction is one of the oldest remaining buildings from the era of the Knights of Hospitaller during medieval times.

Its grand, original Gothic style remains impressive, even though it sadly suffered damage from bombing during World War II. Only three of the church’s apses have survived unharmed and, despite the heavy damage, it retains a strong spiritual air and you can often find painters and artists gathered there soaking up the inspiration in the air. It was considered to be the most important Catholic Church on Rhodes, but, following the extensive damage, is no longer used.

Located within the Old City, the church forms part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site. It was built in 1300 and used by the Knights of St. John Hospitaller. Until its partial destruction, it was the largest church within the Old City. There are no formal opening times or admission to the church, so you are free to stroll among the ruins.

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