Rhodes Island, Greece.
851 00-09 Rhodes : area 1,401sq. km; perimeter 220km; resident population 115,334; max. altitude 1,216m. Port Authority: 22410 22220, 28888, 28666. Travel and information: www.travel-Rhodes .com
Rhodes Travel Guide
The Ancient Cemeteries and Walls to South and Southeast
*Ancient cemeteries lay outside of inhabited areas. Rhodes was a large city with a wealthy population, and the area given over to burials therefore extends for nearly 3km to the south and southeast of the city. A lot of these can be seen by following the line of the main north/south artery of (Sophouli and) Tsaldari Streets (southeast of the acrop olis hill). At the large junction with Ethnikis Antistasis is a small funerary area with some mosaic remains and small oikia for inhumation. By following Parthenopis Street west for 700m from this junction you come to the ‘Monument of the Shield’—a Hellenistic tomb, presumably of an important military figure given the monumental, emblematic carved shield over the door. The tomb extends in a long wall which must imitate the street façades of city houses of the period: to the right side the front is carved with the appearance of wooden doors. All this provided a quasi theatrical backdrop to any ceremony of remembrance for the dead. The tomb was visible as it is today in the 19th century and was described by the British Antiquarian, Charles Newton. To the north of here is the area supposed by some archaeologists to be the site of the theatre of the ancient city.
*Further south on Tsaldari Street, at the junction with M. Petridi Street, is a large site where the meaning of a necropolis as a ‘city of the dead’ begins to make sense— arched galleries for sarcophagi (some in situ), with rectan gular spaces for ossuaries above; steps to different levels and fragments of decorative and constructional elements in marble. An outcrop of natural rock above, with a large rectangular opening, serves as a rudimentary propylon: and to the southwest is the entrance to an impressive and spacious, underground necropolis, half hewn, half built. In the next cross street to the south (Ithakis Street) more superficial graves are being uncovered: and at other points, in the same area, are cave sepulchres and grave loculi with conches.
*Tsaldari Street ends where Konstantinou Ydreou Street cuts across it to the east (left): to the south of this street, the buildings end and you enter the northernmost extremity of Rhodini Park. Seven hundred metres of track southwest through this part of the park brings you to the so-called ‘Tomb of the Ptolemies’ or ‘Ptolemaion’—an important, probably 2nd century bc, Hellenistic funerary monument with a pedimented doorway and stuccoed façade. This is in effect an outcrop of natural rock fashioned into a 30m square block. Its north side has been dressed with a row of carved, engaged pilasters which have been plastered and were once coloured, and which stand as if on a stepped crepis. As with the ‘Monument of the Shield’, this may give us a picture of how the street front of a well-to-do residence in Rhodes may have appeared. In the interior is a transverse entrance chamber, leading into the main burial chamber with niches for the deposition of bodies. Below the façade are other, humbler burial loculi in the ground. The whole block shows evidence of having been faced on its other sides. The tomb’s name has no historical foundation, and the ascription in local folklore to the ruling royal family of Egypt with whom Rhodes had very close connections is no more than a reference to the fact that this is one of the biggest tomb-complexes in the area. 100m to its west is another complex of tombs, largely filled with earth, but with fine carved cornices visible. A free-standing rock in the field to the south has pediments and cornices carved in it, holes and channels for drainage, and a rough cross engraved in the top of the arch. *The route out of the city to Aghia Marina and Kallithea down Kodringtonou [sic] Street (named after Admiral Sir Edward Codrington (1770–1851), hero of both the Battle of Trafalgar and of the Battle of Navarino (1827) in the Greek War of Independence), crosses the best preserved stretch of the ancient city walls which were re-built after the siege of Demetrios Poliorcetes in 304/303 bc. Areas of foundations of the walls and towers stretch to left and right. Beyond this point, the same street continues as Kallitheas Avenue and crosses the ditch of the walls on a bridge whose foundations and arches are those of a well-preserved Late Hellenistic or Roman bridge (1st century bc). Kallitheas Avenue passes first between the city’s modern cemeteries, and then continues alongside the ancient cemeteries. The large area of the modern cemeteries between the road and the shore encompasses side by side an Orthodox, Catholic, Jewish and Moslem Cemetery—poignant testimony to the ethnic vicissitudes of the city’s complex history. Across the avenue (west side) is a small Allied War Graves plot with burials of victims of the Second World War in the Dodecanese. On the west side of Kallitheas Avenue to the south are several more fine necropolises cut into the rock scarp. Decorated marble altars still stand in front of some of the sarcophagus chambers. *Two kilometres along Lindou Avenue (the main road to Lindos which lies further to the west) out from the town centre, lies the entrance to Rhodini Park, to the right of the main road at the foot of a long hill. The park is a pleas ant area of public gardens with dense shade, water, wandering peacocks and grazing deer. The fertile ravine was first laid out as a park in Ottoman times; but the site is often said to be that of the School of Rhetoric of Aeschines, the 4th century bc Athenian orator who went into volun tary exile in Rhodes some time after 330 bc. The glen is at one point traversed by an Ottoman aqueduct, adapted probably from a Roman predecessor. About 700m south west from the entrance above the far side of the stream, a path leads up to the ‘Tomb of the Ptolemies’ (see p. 156).
Rhodes Island is part of the Dodecanese Island Group, Greece.