Medieval Town

The old town of Rhodes is a living settlement of some 150 acres (including the walls and the Moat) with a population of approximately 6.000 who live and work in the same buildings (now restored) that were used by the Knights of St. John 600 years ago. The medieval town was laid out on the pattern of the French cities of the 14th century. A wall divided it into two unequal sections, the northern part (called Castello or Collachium), with its inner Acropolis and the official buildings of the Knights, and the southern and larger part where the ordinary people lived. This division of Rhodes was not an innovation of the Knights but a defensive norm in the Middle Ages, in both East and West.

A tour of the medieval town is quite a lengthy business, given the number of monuments there are to see. The walls with their bastions, battlements, towers and gates cause one to gasp in wonder. The imposing buildings, with their coat-of-arms, majestic gateways, decoration in relief, Gothic windows, paved courtyards and old lamps take one centuries back in time, as do the narrow streets and the old churches.

We enter the Collachium from Mandraki, through Eleftherias Gate on the northeast (or from the northwest, through d’ Amboise Gate). Opposite the Eleftherias Gate is the Ancient Temple of Aphrodite, and to the south is Argyrokastrou Square, where medieval buildings house the Art Gallery, the Folklore Museum, and the collection of Jewelry. To the west is the First Hospital, which houses the Library of the Archeological Foundation. We move along beneath the “Inn” of the Tongue of Auverne, and reach Megalou Alexandrou Square, to the left of which is the church “Our Lady of the Castle”. The Street of the Knights in on our right. This is the only truly medieval street to have survived, and the most important buildings in the old town stand along it.

We take it passing the New Hospital, on our left: this is one of the finest and best-preserved buildings in the medieval Rhodes. Today it houses the Archeological Museum of Rhodes, which contains a collection of outstanding finds from the ancient Greek and Roman periods.