The Old Town of Rhodes is a medieval walled city located on the island of Rhodes in Greece. It is one of the best-preserved old towns in Europe, with most of its buildings and monuments dating back to the 14th and 15th centuries. The Old Town also contains many architectural landmarks like mosques, palaces, and fortifications that date back to various periods over the past two thousand years. This ancient city has been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site due to its rich cultural history and stunning architecture. The area is composed of a complex maze of small pathways and sturdy roads made of stone, notable for its magnificent horse-related structures constructed during the 15th and 16th centuries.
The fact that parking is free in Rhodes old town makes it even more appealing! We'll tell you about the complimentary parking and transfer services available in the old town in this article.
To explore and understand the Old City walls better, it is recommended to take a 1 km walk along a section of the walls. These walls are 4 km long and have towers, bastions, and impressive gates with Venetian coats of arms. They were constructed between the two Ottoman sieges in 1480 and 1522. There is also a broad moat surrounding the fortification.
There are 7 main gates to access the Old Town, some of which were created during the time of the Knights while others were built by the Italians. In addition to these, there are smaller gates around the perimeter. The most impressive gate is the Thalassini with its two towers, which was built in 1478 and is considered to be emblematic of the Old Town. The other gates are named St. Paul (located at the entrance from Mandraki), Liberty, Abouaz, St. Athanasius (also known as the New Gate), St. John (which is located in Koskinous), and Acadia.
The 2.5 km walk in Rhodes Town is incredibly beautiful. You'll be surrounded by lush greenery and palm trees as you take in sights such as the ramparts, medieval towers, and sturdy walls. It's so peaceful that you might forget you're in a town altogether! You can access the walk through any of the three entrances.
You will come across this spot for sure, especially during dusk when the lights are turned on, as it brings back the ambiance of the knightly era. The Knights' Street has been restored to its original form when it was created, and it mostly follows the ancient road that used to go from the harbor to the Temple of the Sun. The route begins at the Museum Square and ends at the Palace of the Grand Master. As you walk, you will see the lodgings of the nationalities who were a part of the Knights of Ioannina. These lodgings were designated areas for each "Language" to meet and for official guests to stay.
You can find several squares inside the old town, including Symi, Argyrokastro, Museum and Hippokratous. All of these squares have monuments such as the Knight's Armoury and a swimming pool that once belonged to the early Christian church of St. Irene of Arnitha (6th century), located in Argyrokastro square.
One lively spot to visit in the Old Town is Hippocrates Square, which can be reached from the Thalassini Gate. In the evening, this square is especially bustling and features several café-restaurants. Another popular area is Orfeos Street, which has cafes and restaurants shaded by plane trees. It's recommended to visit in the evening.
The market, which has been in existence for centuries, has been a popular spot for various groups such as the Byzantines, the Knights, the Ottomans, and the Rhodians of today. Nowadays, there are numerous tourist shops selling various items like souvenirs, clothes, jewellery, leather, ceramics, and carpets. Also, there are three mosques in the area.
To commemorate their victory against Demetrius Poliorkites, the inhabitants built an impressive 33-metre-high statue in honour of Apollo, the god of light. It dates from around 304 BC and was completed in 12 years. In 226 BC a great earthquake destroyed it and it was never restored. For hundreds of years the debris of Colossus remained submerged in the harbour. But in 654 AD, when the Arabs conquered the island, they dismantled it to sell it to Syria. Legend has it that 900 camels were used to transport it.
The city of Rhodes has three ports, including Mandraki (only for small boats and yachts), Big Port for passenger ships, and Akandia for the large Rhodes marina. If you visit Mandraki, you will see two bronze deer symbols of the island by the limestone pillars at the entrance.In the past, there was a theory that Colossus stood where the deer statue is located. It was believed that ships sailed under his feet, and a chain was used to close off the passage at night. However, further research has discredited this theory as the rocky shelves in the harbour are too small to support such a large statue.
The castle at Mandraki jetty's end is called Agios Nikolaos and was constructed between 1464 and 1467. It has been renovated. As you stroll along the pier, you'll see three windmills that were built in the 15th century to grind merchant ships' unloaded grain.