Like all of the Dodecanese Islands, Rhodes, the largest of the islands, lies nearer to the Turkish coast than it does to the Greek Mainland. It has been the target of several migrations that have all but obliterated any evidence of its Neolithic inhabitants.
The Minoans arrived from Crete in the 16th century BCE, followed by Mycenaean Greeks a century later, but it was the Dorians settling in the 8th century BCE that first established the islands unification. They established the Hexapolis, six cities, three located on Rhodes: Ialyssos; Kameiros; and Lindos, one on the island of Kos and two on the Anatolian mainland at Cnidus and Halicarnassus (Bodrum). Many votive objects have been found dating from this period that had been offered at the sanctuary of Athena, consisting of bronze and ivory items.
Like much of the area, Rhodes was taken by the Persians during their expeditions, but by 478 BCE they had been ousted by the Athenian armies. By 408 BCE the independent city states on the island became united and the city of Rhodes Town was built as the new capital of the island. Stability however was not to last as in 357 BCE Rhodes was conquered by King Mausolus, who in turn lost it to the Persians in 340 BCE, but they also could not defend their gains and it all was lost to Alexander in his drive through Persia towards India.
When Alexander died, General Ptolemy, the future pharaoh of Egypt, established strong ties between Rhodes and his capital at Alexandria who together controlled trade in the area. This benefited Rhodes no end as Alexandria was to become the centre for learning in the ancient world. The alliance came under attack in 305 BCE by Demetrius, famed for his introduction of huge siege engines, but despite a year long siege he had to sign a peace settlement in the end. This included leaving behind him all his military equipment, which was sold by the people of Rhodes, and the money raised used to erect an enormous statue to the Solar God Helios in 280 BCE, one of the wonders of the ancient world known as the Colossus of Rhodes. It was unfortunately destroyed by an earthquake in 224 BCE, and nothing remains of it.
As the Roman Empire started its expansion, Rhodes was selected as a place for wealthy people to be educated in all things Greek, and a treaty allowing many privileges was signed in 164 BCE. As the Romans became more powerful however, Rhodes was invaded by Cassius and the city razed.
Rhodes came into her own during the Byzantine period, when Greek culture had a strong bearing on the eastern half of the Roman Empire. This was to last until the growth of the Muslim nations when fighting ensued and the island changed hands several times. Firstly by Arabs in 672, then by Seljuk Turks in 1090, but came back into Xtian hands during the first crusade.
In 1309 the Knights of the Order of St John became the chief force on the island, swiftly changing the city and the system into a western European one.
The city of Rhodes was vastly changed by the arrival of the Knights of the Order of St John. The massive buttresses of the city walls were rebuilt, and a new lavish Palace of the Grand Master of the Knights of Rhodes. The walls proved too strong for the Muslim attackers in 1444 and 1480, Rhodes holding on much longer than the rest of the Byzantine Empire, but it too eventually succumbed under the canon of the army of Suleyman the Magnificent by the end of 1522. In true Muslim chivalric fashion however, the surviving Knights were allowed to withdraw to their bases in Sicily and Malta.
The Grand Masters Palace was used as a fortress by the Ottoman Turks until it was severely damaged in 1856 when an ammunition in storage exploded. When the Italians ousted the Turks in 1912, on the pretext of defending the Greeks, the palace was rebuilt as a holiday home for the Italian rulers.
The Beach at Ixia
Mandraki Harbour, the Site of the Colossus
Relaxing in Rhodes
Grand Master's Palace and City Walls
The Clock Tower
Staircase to the Accomodation
Approach to the Fortress
Intricately Carved Seating for Knights