RHODES



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Rhodes - the Old Town - the walls and within Northern sector: The 'Collachium' area, N of Sokratous str. - History of the building

Ηistory of the building
The Palace stands on a natural rise within the area of the ancient city on which the patronal Temple of Helios may once have stood: Lysippus’s famous ‘Quadriga (four-horse chariot) with the Sun’ mentioned by Pliny (Hist. Nat., XXXIV, 63), and—according to some proponents—the Colossus of Rhodes also may have stood here. The hill was used as an acropolis by the Byzantine city, which was of greatly reduced size by comparison with the ancient city. Some of the foundation walls of the Byzantine citadel were uncovered in the basement (north side) of the present building in 1988. The construction of a brand new, independent fortress of rectangular plan on the site was begun by the Knights not long after their arrival, probably in the period of Grand Master de Villeneuve (1319–46), and was completed by the end of the century. In peacetime it was the residence of the Master and the assembly place of the Order’s councils; in war, it was designed so as to accommodate the citizenry and to resist a siege thanks to its strength and extensive, underground storage areas. Damaged and repaired in the period of the first siege (1480/1), it was little used by the Turkish victors after 1522 except as a prison. The building fell into decay, was damaged in an earthquake in 1851, and then reduced to its ruined ground-floor level by the accidental gunpowder explosion of 1856 in the vaults of the Church of St John just to its south.

The Italian Restoration
The monumental task of restoring the ruin was not a priority during the first 20 years of Italian occupation. But on the accession of Mussolini’s close advisor, Cesare Maria de Vecchi, as Governor in 1936, the idea first appeared of making it into an appropriate residence for an eventual visit from either the Duce or the King of Italy. With unseemly haste and the extensive use of reinforced concrete clad in masonry, the building was re-erected between 1937 and 1940 under the supervision of Vittorio Mesturino, conforming in exterior appearance at least to the views and engravings which remained of the original palace; the interior was redesigned in a manner suitable for modern occupation and in a spirit appropriate to the political aspirations of Rome in the 1930s. Neither Mussolini nor Victor Emmanuel ever visited, and the work was not long completed when Italy was forced to relinquish the Dodecanese. On the right-hand side of the south en trance, opposite the ticket office, the two marble plaques commemorating the restoration in 1940—one written in Greek, the other in Italian—reveal in the language used the hidden aspirations and self-delusions of Fascist policy in Rhodes , as it sought constantly to sanction its actions through reference to the continuation of a glorious Ro man/Latin tradition perpetuated through the Order of the Knights into modern times. The translated text is here cited in full:

In the reign of His Majesty Victor Emmanuel III,
King of Italy and of Albania, and Emperor of Ethiopia;
under Benito Mussolini, Duce of Fascism and Prime Minister:
Cesare Maria de Vecchi, Count of Val Cismon and
Governor of the Italian Islands of the Aegean,
restored and reconstructed this ancient castle—built over
unprofaned Roman ramparts by the Knights of St John,
Seat of Government, Stronghold of the Fortress, Defence
of Western Civilisation and of the Law and Religion of Rome
—giving Power and Splendour to its Renewed History.
In the year of Our Lord, 1940—18th year of the Fascist Era.


Rhodes Island is part of the Dodecanese Island Group, Greece.


access

Rhodes Island, Greece.

By air: With a total of 6–7 daily flights from Athens to Rhodes operated by both Olympic Air and Aegean Airways, Rhodes is easily accessible at all times of year. Its airport is also the hub for local flights within the area to Kastellorizo, Karpathos and Kasos (almost daily), and to Kos, Leros and Astypalaia (three times weekly). There are also daily connections direct to Thessaloniki and to Heraklion (Crete). The airport is 15km southwest of the centre of Rhodes town (€15 by taxi).
By boat: The port of Rhodes is also the principal hub for the Dodecanese Islands, with daily connections to all the principal islands, though the frequency of connections to the lesser islands varies considerably according to season (see entries for individual islands). There are year-round, direct connections by car-ferry to Piraeus (c. 16 hours) every day; and connections to eastern Crete twice weekly. In the holiday season, there are also daily connections (by private carriers) to Marmaris in Turkey. Since the port is large and has several harbours, it is important to ascertain from which part of it a ferry will leave.
The neighbouring island of Chalki is served twice weekly from Rhodes town, but there is a daily service from Kameiros Skala (2 hours). The GNTO office in the New Town (corner of Makariou and Papagou Streets, T. 22410 44335) provides helpful sheets with weekly boat departures, museum opening times, a price-list for taxis and schedules of bus times and fares for the whole island. Its web-site is: www.ando.gr/eot

Rhodes Travel Guide

eating

Rhodes Island, Greece.

Rhodes offers some of the best and most varied eating possibilities in the Aegean— although in the city itself, the visitor will need to explore outside the Old Town to sample the best Greek food. Within the walls of the Old Town, unimaginative and often overpriced tourist-fare prevails; we would suggest only: the -Marco Polo (see lodging, above); Dinoris Restaurant (upper medium price) in a tiny alley across from the entrance to the Archaeological Museum— an elegant and traditional taverna of long standing, one of the few in the Old Town regularly frequented by locals; Photis Restaurant (expensive; open all year) in Menekléous Street—also an elegant and well-established fish restaurant, where the undoubted high quality and presentation of its dishes compensates for the hauteur of the reception and service. At lunchtime, -Indigo (medium price), inside the Nea Agorá market building (at no.105/6) beside Mandraki harbour, offers delicious, finely prepared dishes from the cuisine of Greek Asia Minor. Further afield (but without question worth the short taxi-ride) in Zephyros, southeast of the city centre, is the -Paragadi fish restaurant (medium expensive; corner of Klaude Pepper & Australias Streets: reservation recommended, T. 22410 37775) with an exceptional quality of service and of seafood and fish dishes, prepared in the best and simplest manner. This is one of the best fish restaurants in the Dodecanese. Nearby, open all year, and usually packed with locals, is To Steki tou Cheila (inexpensive) at the southern end of Kodringtonou St., on the corner of Hadjiangelou and Dendrinou Sts: the symiakó (tiny shrimps) and the wine are both fresh and delicious.
Around the island: Mavrikos in Lindos (expensive; reservations, T. 22440 31232) is a fine and justly famous restaurant with pleasing setting, serving many homemade products. The excellent and panoramic -To Limeri tou Listí ("The robber"s den") in Prophilía (T. 22440 61578) in the central south of the island, certainly merits the long journey and represents one of the best places to eat on the island: it has imaginatively and care fully prepared traditional dishes of the highest standard, e.g. a light and unforgettable imam bayaldı. Nearby, Petrino in the picturesque plateia of Váti, is a good country taverna with fresh and unaffected cuisine.

Rhodes Travel Guide

further reading

Rhodes Island, Greece.

Cecil Torr, Rhodes in Ancient Times and Rhodes in Modern Times (first published by CUP in 1885, both now re-issued by Archaeopress ‘3rd guides’, Oxford); Lawrence Durrell, Reflections on a Marine Venus (Faber & Faber, London, 1953); H.J.A Sire, The Knights of Malta (Yale, London & New Haven, 1994); Vassilis Colonas, Italian Architecture in the Dodecanese Islands, 1912–1943 (Olkos Press, Athens, 2002); Elias Kollias, The Mediaeval City of Rhodes etc.,(Ministry of Culture, Athens, 1998).

Rhodes Travel Guide

lodging

Rhodes Island, Greece.

The most beautiful and characterful place to stay in the Old Town of Rhodes is the -Hotel Marco Polo (T./fax 22410 25562, www. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. ; open May–late Oct) at 42 Aghiou Phanaríou Street, not far from where it joins (the main) Sokrátous Street at the Mehmet Agha Mosque. With architecturally fine rooms of great individuality, and the thoughtful and friendly service that goes with private ownership, this is a memorable place either to stay or just to dine on its imaginative, traditional food in the peace and quiet of a mediaeval walled-garden. Elegant, modern luxury at a higher price, in an enviable location just off the Street of the Knights, is offered by the newly opened -Avalon Boutique Hotel (T./ fax 22410 31438/31439, www.avalonRhodes .gr), which is open all year round. The Old Town also has many small and characterful pensions: worthy of mention are, The Apollo Guesthouse (T. 22410 32003, www.apollo-touristhouse.com) and Hotel Andreas (T. 22410 34156, fax 74285, www.hotelandreas.com), at 28c and 28d Omírou Street respec tively (contiguous, but under separate management) not far from the St John/Koski nou Gate, and overlooking the ancient church of Aghia Kyriaki. Both are relatively inexpensive, and inhabit interesting buildings; the rooms are comfortable, but small. At Ippodámou Street, 61, is the delightful S. Nikolis Hotel (T. 22410 34561, fax 32034, www.s-nikolis.gr). These last three close between late October and the week before Easter. In the winter season, the New Town has a number of hotels which are open year-round and offer more conventional services and convenience. Comfort able and satisfactory, without being too big or expensive, is the A-class Hotel Mediterranean (T. 22410 24661, fax 22828, www.mediterranean. gr), opposite the Casino at 35 Kos Street; most rooms have good sea-views. Exceptional value year-round is represented by the Esperia Hotel (T. 22410 23941–4) at 7 Griva Street which is warm, pleasant and strictly functional: the pool-side rooms are quietest.

Rhodes Travel Guide

practical info

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

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