Rhodes Introduction Walking Tour (Self Guided), Rhodes

The city of Rhodes, capital of the eponymous island, has been famous since antiquity as the site of one of the Seven Wonders of the World, the Colossus of Rhodes. The enormous statue once stood over the harbor entrance and was destroyed by a powerful earthquake in 226 BC.

The name Rhodes comes from the ancient Greek word “rhódon” (rose), hence the island is sometimes referred to as the island of roses. Another theory suggests that it could derive from “erod”, which is the Phoenician for snake, since the island was once home to a huge population of snakes.

Due to its vicinity to Europe, Middle East, and Africa, Rhodes – inhabited since about 4000 BC – over the course of its long history has been exposed to many different cultures (architectural styles, languages, etc.). In 164 BC, the island fell under Roman control, and in medieval times was an important Byzantine trading post at a shipping crossroads between Constantinople and Alexandria.

The Knights of the Hospital of Saint John of Jerusalem, commonly known as Hospitallers – for their mission to look after the welfare of the wounded and ailing crusaders, captured and established their headquarters in Rhodes in 1309. The supreme authority of the order was the Grand Master, hence the Grand Master's Palace located within the walls of Rhodes' Old Town. The citadel built by the Hospitallers is one of the best-preserved medieval towns in Europe – declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1988.

In the early 1520s the knights departed from the island, leaving it to the Ottomans. The Mosque of Suleiman, named after the Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent, was originally built after the Ottoman conquest of Rhodes in 1522.

In 1912 Italian troops occupied the island and eventually destroyed much of its Ottoman heritage, whilst carefully preserving that of the Hospitallers. The British bombs that fell upon the city in 1944 claimed many a life and destroyed a great number of buildings, leaving large gaps in the urban tissue. In 1960 the entire Medieval Town of Rhodes was designated a protected monument.

Today, the city of Rhodes is an important Greek urban center and a popular international tourist destination. To find the place where the famous Colossus once stood, as well as to discover many other notable sights of ancient Rhodes still in place, follow this introductory walk.
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Rhodes Introduction Walking Tour Map

Guide Name: Rhodes Introduction Walking Tour
Guide Location: Greece » Rhodes (See other walking tours in Rhodes)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 14
Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.1 Km or 1.3 Miles
Author: holly
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Marine Gate
  • Ippokratous Square
  • Sokratous Street
  • Mosque of Suleiman
  • Roloi Clock Tower
  • Fortifications of Rhodes
  • Palace of the Grand Master of the Knights of Rhodes
  • Street of The Knights
  • Archaeological Museum of Rhodes
  • Church of Our Lady of the Castle
  • St. Paul's Gate
  • Mandraki Harbor and Windmills
  • St. Nicholas Fortress
  • Colossus of Rhodes
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Marine Gate

1) Marine Gate

Marine Gate is a medieval gate constructed in 1478. It is the main entrance from the harbor to the city. If you are arriving by sea, you will enter Rhodes through this imposing gate. Therefore, it is also sometimes referred to as the Sea Gate.

Grand Master Pierre d'Aubusson built the gate to imitate the Gate to Villeneuve-lès-Avignon in France, which is 200 years older.

The front of the gate features several reliefs. One relief shows the Virgin holding the Christ. Additional reliefs show St. John the Baptist, St. Peter, the coats of arms of France, the Order of St. John, and the blazon of the House of d'Aubusson.

On the interior side of the gate, visitors will see more relief work. An effigy shows an Angel with the coats of arms of the Order of St. John and another blazon of the House of d'Aubusson.

The towers have a series of devices that poured boiling oil on attackers. The gate is so close to the harbor that it would be impossible for an army of any size to gather below the gate and attack it.

This iconic and imposing landmark sets the scene for the rest of Rhodes. It was restored in 1951 when damage to the north tower from World War II bombings was repaired.
2
Ippokratous Square

2) 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.
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Sokratous Street

3) Sokratous Street

Each resort town has a shopping street where you can buy souvenirs and try local delicacies. The island of Rhodes' capital is no exception and has one such venue of its own, called Socrates Street in honor of the famous ancient Greek philosopher and scientist.

As the city's main trade artery and popular thoroughfare, Socrates Street is lined on both sides with numerous shops, bars, eateries and entertainment venues, open from evening until early morning. A walk along the rows of outlets here can sometimes turn into a fully-fledged excursion, given the variety of goods on offer. Items of clothing, fabrics, shoes, all sorts of sweets, numerous figurines depicting the theme of Ancient Greece, handicrafts of local craftsmen and much more, fill the local counters every day. The ethnic contingent of sellers, many of whom are multilingual, is also extremely diverse. The colorful, vibrant atmosphere of this shopping mecca attracts crowds day and night.

A leisurely stroll down this cobblestoned street can also prove quite informative, as you get to see the majestic medieval sites: huge fortified walls of the Old City with ramparts and defensive moat, Byzantine churches and Ottoman mosques, squares, gardens and courtyards that carry a fair amount of historic charm and cause the curios to look inside.

In particular, there is the Archbishop's Palace towering over the square of the same name, the Commercial Tribunal built at the turn of the 16th century, the Sea Gate, and the absolutely charming Seahorse fountain. The street runs past the luxurious Suleiman Baths, where you can not only admire the richly decorated interior but also use it for the intended purpose. Another reminder of the Muslim period of Rhodes, the Sultan Mustafa Mosque, draws attention with its classic oriental surroundings.

In the southern part of Socrates Street there is a labyrinths of narrow lanes leading to Pythagoras Street with its 16th-century Ibrahim Pasha Mosque, and to Fanourios Street with the small Orthodox Church Agios Fanourios, built in 1335, and known for being partially underground.
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Mosque of Suleiman

4) Mosque of Suleiman (must see)

The Mosque of Suleiman in Rhodes is a large pink-colored mosque that was built by the sultan in 1522 to celebrate the victory of the Turkish over the Knights Hospitaller. The Knights had established themselves in Rhodes in 1307 and their possession of the island was confirmed by Pope Clement V in 1309.

The newly crowned Ottoman sultan Suleilman, however, led naval attacks on Rhodes and the vastly outnumbered Knights fled, taking only what they could carry. As many conquerors had done, this huge religious site was built over the remains of the destroyed Christian Church of the Apostles and it is the largest mosque in Rhodes.

The building was re-constructed in 1808, following a damage, and its striking minaret sadly had to be removed in 1989, as it was deemed unsafe. However, to this day the rose colored stone exterior and classic Ottoman style is striking and adds significantly to the ambiance of the Old City.

The Mosque of Suleiman remains one of the major landmarks of the city of Rhodes. Although it is currently closed to visitors pending restoration, you can appreciate its design from the street. The mosque is conveniently located right across from the old Turkish Bazaar.
5
Roloi Clock Tower

5) Roloi Clock Tower (must see)

The Roloi Clock Tower was originally built in the seventh century. It was damaged in the 1850s and rebuilt. The newer clock tower features baroque elements, and the clock is perfectly operational.

The Clock Tower is the highest landmark in Rhode's Old Town. In previous times, the clock informed Greeks of the Turkish time. This was important because the Turks had strict rules for who could enter and leave Rhodes. The exact timing was an important component of the rules.

Visitors can enjoy the delightful open-air cafe on the terrace; a cafe drink is included in the price. To enjoy the full experience, embark on a steep climb. Visitors can climb the 53 wooden steps to a small room with 360-degree views. As you climb, you will notice photos showing the restoration work that the clock tower has undergone.
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Fortifications of Rhodes

6) Fortifications of Rhodes (must see)

The medieval city is surrounded by a 4 kilometer fortified wall that was built to protect Rhodes from attack by foreign empires and corsairs who sailed the water of the Mediterranean and Aegean during the Middle Ages. The old city was fortified under the Knights Hospitaller who occupied Rhodes between 1309 and 1522. The massive city walls were long considered to be impenetrable, but they finally yielded to the Ottoman Turks at the beginning of the 16th century.

Along the wall, there are several bastions and towers that can be visited. Each of them includes fascinating features and brings Rhodes’ ancient military history to life for the visitor. You are able to enter the Old City through one of the eleven gatehouses along the walls. There are cat walks and ramparts along the top of the city walls that were used by sentries keeping guard over the city and for defense during attack. There is an entry fee, but you can climb up into several of the towers and walk along the walls, all the while imagining you are a medieval knight.

Tickets can be obtained from the Palace of the Grand Master and the entrance is adjacent to that building.
7
Palace of the Grand Master of the Knights of Rhodes

7) 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.
8
Street of The Knights

8) 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.
9
Archaeological Museum of Rhodes

9) Archaeological Museum of Rhodes (must see)

The Archaeological Museum of Rhodes is located within the Old City in one of the buildings formerly occupied by the Knights Hospitaller. The building dates from 1440, when it was constructed by the Grand Master D’Aubusson. Rhodes has a long and fascinating history that stretches all the way back to classical times when the Colossus of Rhodes greeted visitors to the city. Here at the Archaeological Museum of Rhodes you will find many of the ancient artifacts that have been uncovered during excavations on the island.

One of the best known items from the museum’s collection is an amphora of Fikellura style dating from the 6th century B.C and featuring depictions of animals below the handles. An attic amphora shows the departure of a warrior, which reflects the constant conflicts during the period around the 6th century B.C.

A grave stele of Krito and Timarista that has been dated to between 420 and 410 B.C shows two female figures wearing traditional clothing and embracing. A stone head of the god Helios, provides interesting information about Rhodes’ Hellenistic period. There are several rooms in the museum that are dedicated to specific sites on the island and feature fine statues and mosaics.

Operation hours: Tuesday - Sunday: 8 am - 8 pm
10
Church of Our Lady of the Castle

10) Church of Our Lady of the Castle

The Church of Our Lady of the Castle is a Byzantine gem and one of Rhodes most popular attractions. Built sometime in the 11th century, it was used as the Orthodox Cathedral of Rhodes under Byzantine rule and the Latin Cathedral under the Franks. In addition to the Byzantine features, there are also some Gothic elements that were added at a later date.

During Byzantine times, the church was a single domed and one-aisled structure. It was later expanded, under the tutelage of the Knights of Hospitaller, and the noteworthy bell tower was added. In the 14th century, a monastery was added to the church grounds.

Within the grounds of the church there are also the remains of a Doric Temple of Athena Polias – this fascinating site features intricate carvings and should not be missed. The interior of the church has many frescoes and paintings that are hundreds of years old and which pertain to different eras of its patronage.

When the Ottomans took over Rhodes from the Knights, the church was converted into a mosque, but fortunately, the original design of the construction was maintained. During Ottoman rule, it was called the Enterum Mosque and the bell tower was converted into a minaret.
11
St. Paul's Gate

11) St. Paul's Gate

Located in the north-eastern corner of Rhodes' Old Town, Saint Paul's Gate once served as an entry point to the city from the harbour of Mandraki and the De Naillac Pier.

The bastion protecting the gate is an eloquent token of masterful construction technique and a point of reference for fortification works specialists: 12 cannon holes meant to cover a wide range between the two harbours and the mole of Agios Nikolaos (St. Nicolas). A common feature among this gate, the Agios Athanasios (St. Athanasius) Gate and the d’Amboise Gate was the drawbridge module, estimated to have operated through a system of beams and counter-weights, the presence of which is suggested by the vertical slots into the external wall, where the beams of the drawbridge module must have been affixed.

A semi-cylindrical tower in the inner part of wall bears a marble sculpture of the coat of arms of the House of Grand Master d’Aubusson (1476-1503), right next to those of the Hospitallers Order and Pope Sixtus IV. Right below the coats of arms there is an effigy of Paul the Apostle and the inscription, in Gothic characters, of “Sanctus Paul”. The presence of such blazons puts the time of completion of this part of the fortifications at around 1477, as part of a grander project set to restore the northern walls, commissioned by Grand Master d’Aubusson.

During World War Two, St. Paul’s Gate was hit heavily and almost fell. It was rebuilt early in the 1950s.
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Mandraki Harbor and Windmills

12) Mandraki Harbor and Windmills (must see)

Mandraki Harbor has been a port since ancient times. The Knights of Rhodes moored their fleet in this harbor. Today, the harbor is home to modern yachts.

Two columns stand at the entrance. One column features a bronze stag, and one column features a bronze doe; the stag and doe are emblems of Rhodes. The columns and statues stand where the legendary Colossus of Rhodes stood.

The harbor has a 400 meter (1,312 foot) long breakwater jetty. Fort St. Nicholas stands at the end of the jetty and protected Rhodes from initial assaults.

Visitors will find three iconic medieval windmills on Mandraki Harbor's jetty. These ancient windmills used to grind grains brought from vessels that moored in the harbor. There used to be more windmills, possibly 13 or 14. Now only three remain, and they have been extensively renovated and offer a popular photo opportunity.

Tips

The windmills are silhouetted at dawn and provide spectacular sunrise photos.
13
St. Nicholas Fortress

13) St. Nicholas Fortress (must see)

The imposing St. Nicholas Fortress is located in the Rhodes Old City looking out over Mandraki Harbor. In ancient times Mandraki Harbor was a military space and in the 15th century a guard tower was constructed there on the orders of Grand Master Raimondo Zacosta.

Following the first siege, the tower was fortified. A bastion was added by Grand Master d’Aubusson and the newly formed fortress was named after the chapel inside it. It was largely thanks to the fortress that the Knights Hospitaller were able to fend off attacks from the Turks for so many years. Major sieges by the Turks were mounted in 1480 and 1522-23. The initial attack was thwarted, but the Turks ended up seizing Rhodes in 1522 and the Knights were forced to leave the city.

When the fortress was built, it took into account the Ottoman's use of cannons and other siege weaponry and its thick walls were impermeable for many years. Indeed considering their age, they are in excellent condition to this day. The fortress is hugely popular with visitors these days and it has been well preserved. You can walk along the path of the former moat, which has been dried out and provides a scenic, tree lined walking path.
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Colossus of Rhodes

14) Colossus of Rhodes

The Colossus of Rhodes was a statue that represented the Greek sun-god Helios. It was known as one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World and was erected by Chares of Lindos in 280 BC. It was constructed to memorialize Rhodes' successful defeat of Demetrius Poliorcetes, who attacked Rhodes for a year.

Literary references, including Shakespeare's Julius Caesar, describe the statue as straddling the harbor entrance. Ships would enter by sailing between the statue's legs. However, modern analysis proves that this theory was impossible. It was impossible to build the statue over the entrance with the available technology. If the statue had straddled the entrance, it would have permanently blocked the entrance when it fell. We know that the statue fell onto the land.

It is thought that the original statue was 33 meters (108 feet) high. Unfortunately, it was damaged during a 226 BC earthquake. Ptolemy III offered to finance reconstruction; however, the oracle of Delphi warned against reconstruction.

The remains of the statue were still impressive, and many traveled to Rhodes to view it. Unfortunately, the statue was totally destroyed in 653 when an Arab force captured Rhodes. Stories recount that the statue was melted down, and it took 900 camels to carry the load away.

The location of the statue is disputed. However, many believe that it stood where the current columns with the bronze stag and deer stand.

Walking Tours in Rhodes, Greece

Create Your Own Walk in Rhodes

Create Your Own Walk in Rhodes

Creating your own self-guided walk in Rhodes is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
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