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The Hospice of St Catherine and the Church of
St Mary of the Burgh
Straddling the line of the Hellenistic walls is the pre dominantly 15th century Hospice of St Catherine, built around a central courtyard and founded in 1392 by Fra Domenico d’Alemagna to give help and hospitality to Italian pilgrims travelling to and from the Holy Land. Parts of the building to either side are missing, but the surviving block has soberly decorated windows, a beautifully carved string-course, and projecting carved water spouts at roof-level. The founders arms are visible on the north façade; those of Grand Master del Carretto and Admiral Costanzo Operti (whose mansion was encountered in Lachitos Street in the Collachium) on the west side. A little to the south is another large area of excavations which has revealed a cruciform church of relatively small dimensions, possibly also dedicated to St Catherine. Vestiges of the church’s paintings can be seen low down amongst the walls which have been exposed. To the south, is an area of attractive chochlakia pavement belonging to a much later period.
Pindarou Street returns west, back towards the commercial area passing alongside the substantial remains of St Mary of the Burgh—roofless apart from a southwest chapel and the three gothic apses of the east end which still stand, with their long lancet windows and ribbed vaults. For most of the last century the site was bisected from north to south by the course of Alchadef Street: the street has since been closed and the nave of the church is now a theatrical setting for children to play among the column bases and for swallows to nest under the arches. Built according to a Western Gothic design by the Knights just after the middle of the 14th century, it comes in age and size shortly after its sister-church of St Mary of the Castle, from whom its epithet distinguishes it: the ‘Castle’ was the area of the Knights, while the ‘Burgh’, to the east, was the area of the commoners and merchants. The delicately carved decoration of foliage around the capitals between the apses, is complemented by the plants which grow from cracks in the masonry. From the church, the view through the gate breached in the walls directly to the north extends uninterrupted across the water to the mountains of Turkey.
Rhodes Island is part of the Dodecanese Island Group, Greece.