RHODES



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Rhodes - the Old Town - the walls and within Northern sector: The 'Collachium' area, N of Sokratous str.The Grand master's Palace

The Grand Master’s Palace
Like an orchestra of talented players brought together and forced unwillingly to perform a famous symphony, the Grand Master’s Palace is an assemblage of many in dividual treasures and qualities, but a strangely indifferent whole. The crisp lines of its crenellations and round towers erected by the Italians between 1937 and 1940 are faithful to the general proportions and exterior appearance of what we know of the castle built by the Knights; but the interior has been substantially modified, the materials of the surfaces altered, and the spaces which saw so much important Mediaeval history are gone. Nonetheless the Palace contains many important treasures—Ancient and Palaeochristian mosaics set in the floors, antique furniture, two interesting permanent exhibitions on aspects of the history of Rhodes , as well as the ghost of a period of political aberration in recent Western history. All of this makes it a visit that should not be missed (open June–Sept Tues–Sun 8–8, Mon 12.30–8; daily in winter, ex ept Mon, 8.30–3. Entrance fee includes access to the exhibitions. Note: the two permanent exhibitions alternate days of opening – see below). Entrance, court & ground floor The imposing South Gate—befitting a building that was primarily a fortress, and only secondarily a residence— flanked by two horse-shoe towers, communicates between the military parade court in front on the south side and the interior court of the castle. The chilling bareness of the central courtyard has little architectural relief: the insensitively ‘finished’ statues of Roman dignitaries on the opposite side, which were brought in 1937 from the ancient Odeion in Kos, are the sole figurative elements. In the original floor of the court were sunk a dozen large, circular grain stores; the mar ble ‘well-heads’ on the east side, marking three of them, were added by the Italians. The lower floor of the north wing houses the well-dis played and clearly explained, permanent exhibition, ‘Ancient Rhodes : 2400 Years’ (open Wed, Fri and Sun), covering the history of the city along thematic lines: Prehistoric be ginnings and development (Rooms 1 & 2); public buildings and sanctuaries (3); the Rhodian house (4); domestic artefacts (5); cosmetics and daily life (6); artistic and spiritual life (7); ceramic workshops (8); work in bronze, glass, and terracotta (9); commerce and coinage (10); the cemetery (11); and burial customs (12). In the southwest corner is the second exhibition, ‘Rhodes from the 4th century until the Turkish Conquest (1522)’ (open Tues, Thur & Sat) displays manuscripts and illustrated books, icons, finely decorated ceramics and objects of trade and ritual—together contributing a vivid sense of the colour of the city in the period. A pair of beautifully carved 16th century -wooden doors from the church of Aghia Triada, re-used (and perhaps partially restored) in Ottoman times, gives a valuable sense of the former appearance of the city’s other many doorways, which today tend towards a drab uniformity. On the wall to the left of the main interior stairs opposite the ticket office is a small carved aedicule with a 14th century sculptural group, in predominantly North Italian style, of the seated Madonna and Child (the latter, energetically holding up an Orb). Although it retains vestiges of original paint, the degree of erosion suggests that it was perhaps located on the exterior of a building. It somehow escaped destruction, and was immured here by the Italians in their restoration of the building. To the right of the staircase is the chapel of St Catherine (which once housed important relics of the saint), with a copy of Donatello’s St Nicholas of Bari. Upper floor State Rooms In the Hall of the monumental staircase, the self-conscious patterning of the different colour-tones of the ‘poros’ stone used in the facing of the walls by the Italian restorers is particularly noticeable. In the lowest area of the hall the original more serendipitous variegation of the Knights’ masonry is visible, contrasting with the ‘chess-board’ artificiality of the 1930s work above. The State Rooms of the piano nobile are spacious, high and luminous—not unpleasant, but indefinably lifeless be cause of their subjugation to an imposed idea of solemnity. Even the naturally joyous mosaics in the floors seem sub dued. There are nearly two dozen -panels of inlaid ancient mosaic, taken from Late Hellenistic and Roman houses and from Early Christian basilicas on Kos, as well as from some buildings on Rhodes . Most came to light in Italian excavations in the wake of the 1933 earthquake on Kos. The ‘Trophy’ room (1: southwest corner) exhibits one Hellenistic and one Early Christian mosaic, which never belonged together but show nonetheless the continuity of motif and method between the two epochs, separated by over 700 years. Their colours have been muted by the application of fixative and varnish. In the corner of the room is a 1st century bc funerary trophy from the southern necropolis of Rhodes on top of a finely decorated Hellenistic altar with scenes of Dionysos and dancing Maenads; the two pieces similarly never belonged together and relate awkwardly in both subject matter and technical quality. In the adjacent room (2) is a cast of the famous Laocoon (now in the Vatican Collection in Rome), the most famous and representative work of Rhodian Hellenistic sculpture—solitary here, but once part of an ensemble of grand and dynamic pieces on Homeric themes, destined to be dramatically displayed in a grotto by the sea south of Rome. The cross-vaulted room which projects under the tower in the middle of the west wing was the Governor’s Office; in the adjacent Audience Hall (6) the Italian restorers’ shaky grasp of architectural solutions is illustrated by the increasingly unhappy transition from column to capital. The splendid 5th century ad mosaic on the floor comes from the Ear ly Christian Basilica of Aghios Ioannis on Kos. The rooms also contain furniture of interest, including good 16th and 17th century wood-work from Italian churches—candela bra, painted and gilded vestment-chests and, most notable of all, the two beautifully posed, polychrome figures of the Annunciation of the Virgin (late 15th century), in the Room of the Nine Muses (south wing, at end of itinerary). The room takes its name from a floor-mosaic figuring the Muses in a complex decorative design of linked roundels. A wide variety of styles and subjects is represented in the mosaics encountered in the circuit of the rooms: decora tive ‘tapestries’ of birds, fishes and plants; finely detailed emblemata (centrepiece medallions) such as that of Medusa (4) and a Nymph riding a sea-horse (8); and mythological narratives such as the scene of Poseidon defeating Polybotes (corridor of east wing)—of particular local interest because of its connection with the story of the origin of the island of Nisyros. A different external view of the Palace as a whole, and its well-articulated mass as seen from the north, can be ob tained from the walk through the moat of the walls (entered from Plateia Alexandrias by the taxi stand). In the north facing stretch of wall before the Tower of Plaignes is the only remaining carved emblem with the three fasces of the Fascist period. Nearby is also an Ottoman commemorative plaque in Osmanli script.


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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