Castle of Rhodes

The Island of Rhodes

The island of Rhodes is located in the South East of the Aegean sea, at 460 km from Athens. Rhodes is the fourth largest island of Greece, the largest of the Dodecanese islands group with 1400,684 square kilometers and 163476 inhabitants. The capital city of Rhodes occupies the northern tip of the island. The inner landscape of the island has wooded mountains with pines and cypresses.

According to the ancient poet Pindar, when Zeus and the other immortal gods distributed the lands of the Earth between them they forgot the share of Helios, the god of the Sun. Zeus thought to start a new share. Helios however saw a new land rising from below the surface of the sea. That was the island of Rhodes which, according to the myth, was attributed to Helios.

Human presence on the island was established in the Neolithic area. An important event in the ancient times was when in 407 BC, the three independent city states of the island decide to unite in one island state. The new city they decided to build, named Rhodes, was designed by architect Hippodamus of Miletus, who is considered the father of urban planning, or perhaps from one of his pupils, and was built at the place of the modern city.

At the end of the third century BC, a 30 m (180 ft) high statue of Helios was erected at the harbor of the city of Rhodes. It was the Colossus of Rhodes, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world which lasted for some decades before its collapse during the earthquake of 226 BC.

Colossus

In later times the island of Rhodes still received influence from many civilizations, as the surviving monuments attest to. Most impressive are the city walls around the medieval town and the Grand Master's Palace that was built in the 14nth century by the Knights of Saint John. This Order of knights possessed the island between the 14nth to the 16nth century, at which time they were defeated by the Ottoman empire. In 1947, the island of Rhodes along with the other islands of the Dodecanese was united with Greece after being part of Italian Empire for 35 years.