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Rhodes, The Old City

GREECE | Tuesday, 13 January 2015 | Views [460]

Old City, Rhodes

Old City, Rhodes

SUNDAY WAS THE FIRST DAY WE’VE BEEN WARM since Santorini.  It wasn’t quite shirtsleeve weather but our polarfleece vests were enough as we headed off for Old Town Rhodes.  The history of Rhodes goes back 2500 years.  It was an important center of both the Roman and Byzantine empires until being conquered by the Order of Hospitallers of the Knights of St. John.  

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  Mosque of Suleiman                          Old City Walls

Founded in the 11th Century, the Knights of St. John guarded the Holy Sepulcher and protected pilgrims in Jerusalem.  They fled to Cyprus after Jerusalem fell and eventually bought the island of Rhodes in 1306.  Even though they were military men, the  Knights accepted priestly vows of chastity, obedience and poverty.  They were divided into seven “Tongues” or nationalities; France, Italy, England, Germany, Provence, Spain and Auvergne.  Each Tongue established a residence in an auberge on the Street of the Knights, the main drag in Old Rhodes, and each was responsible for protecting a section of the city wall.  The Knights were defeated by by Suleiman the Magnificent’s Turks in 1522 and the survivors fled to Malta.

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  Street of the Knights                       Coat of Arms on Auberge

While many of the best artifacts from Rhodes can be found among the collections of the world’s famous museums, enough were on display in the Archeological Museum to keep us entertained for a Sunday morning.  The building itself, the former Hospital of the Knights, is a gem in its own right with mosaics, statues and even a Turkish Garden.

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 Knights Hospital cum museum           Fountain in Turkish Garden

The good weather didn’t last and Monday was a dreary, rainy day.  None of the  attractions are open on Monday so we lazed about the hotel catching up on the news.  While the world (at least according to CNN and EuroNews) is mourning the 17 “Je suis Charlie” victims in Paris, the 2000 mostly women and children massacred by Boco Haram in Nigeria are relegated to a footnote.  Some pigs, it seems, are more equal than others.

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 Courtyard, Hall of Grand Masters     Statue and mosaic

Tuesday's weather wasn’t much better.  But it would be our final day in Rhodes and we wanted to visit the Hall of the Grand Masters, the heart of the Knight’s Quarter.  In truth, it was a disappointment.  Originally built in the 14th Century it survived both earthquake and siege only to to be blown up by accident in 1856.  What there is today was rebuilt in the 1930s by the Italians.  The mosaics were imported from the island of Kos and there are no signs in the rooms explaining what is what.  Definitely a €6 ripoff.



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