The medieval city of Rhodes on the Island of Rhodes in Greece is one of the most surprising places to visit. Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site it is the oldest continuously inhabited ancient walled city in Europe.
The massive wall, that encircles the Old Town of Rhodes, was built by the Knights of St. John to protect it from the Ottoman Empire. Access to the old town can be made via several gates, each rich in their own history.
The Palace of the Grand Masters is probably the centrepiece of monuments you must visit whilst in the Old City. The Palace is a beautifully restored fort with a commanding view built in 14th century at the location of the Acropolis.
When Rhodes fell to the Turks in 1522, the Palace was converted in to a prison before it was completely destroyed by an accidental explosion caused by lightning that struck stored black powder in 1856. The explosion levelled the original palace and killed about 800 people. The Turks then turned it into a military hospital using the stones of the destroyed palace.
In the 1930’s the Italians used old drawings to rebuild the Palace. What you see today as the Palace of the Grand Masters is the complete Italian reconstruction that was undertaken to create the summer residence of Mussolini and King Victor Emmanuel III. The exterior of the Palace of the Grand Masters is a close reproduction of the original, but the interior was transformed to accommodate modern inhabitants rather than being accurate to the original plans.
The transformation is definitely worth a visit to get an insight in to the majestic medieval lifestyle of the Knights, and for the collection of authentic antique furniture, Oriental vases, frescoes and ancient floor mosaics that decorate the various rooms. Whilst there are over 150 rooms in total only 24 are currently open to the public for viewing. The various rooms depicting the history of Rhodes through Ancient Greek, Roman, and Byzantine times is fascinating.
The massive central courtyard, with wide undercover veranda is also captivating and a great place to stop for a cool drink, to take some photos or sketches or just to escape the heat of the day.
Cost to enter the Palace is 6 Euros per adult.
(Photos courtesy of Mr Iced Vovo and myself!)