Lindos Rhodes 1 The Magnificence of the Suleymaniye Mosque in Rhodes
The Magnificence of the Suleymaniye Mosque in Rhodes
June 9, 2024
Untitled design 2024 02 20T105409.758 New Town District of Rhodes
New Town District of Rhodes
June 9, 2024
Lindos Rhodes 1 The Magnificence of the Suleymaniye Mosque in Rhodes
The Magnificence of the Suleymaniye Mosque in Rhodes
June 9, 2024
Untitled design 2024 02 20T105409.758 New Town District of Rhodes
New Town District of Rhodes
June 9, 2024

Photo of Ippokratous Square from the archive of Mr. Stavros Georgalides


Every cobblestone tells a story; every archway echoes with the past. The Old Town District of Rhodes stands as a testament to time, a living page from the chronicles of ancient civilizations.

Located within the protective arms of its medieval walls, this UNESCO World Heritage Site remains a jewel in the Aegean, its history etched in every meticulously preserved building and plaza.

In this exclusive voyage through its storied streets, we uncover the architectural grandeur, enchanting cultural tapestry, and the timeless allure that continues to captivate visitors from around the world.

The location of Old Town District

The Palace of The Grand Master in Rhodes
The Palace of The Grand Master in Rhodes

Placed on the northeastern tip of Rhodes island, the Old Town District of Rhodes is strategically positioned, offering a gateway between the historic Aegean Sea and the vast stretches of the Mediterranean.

This location not only provided historical strategic advantage but also facilitated the rich cultural and economic exchanges that have shaped the town’s unique character over centuries.

Surrounded by a robust fortification system, the Old Town District is divided into two distinct sections: the Knight’s Quarter in the north, where the knights and elite lived, and the Hora, a section to the south filled with vibrant markets, shops, and residences reflecting the diverse cultures that thrived here.

This geographical and cultural dichotomy within the Old Town’s walls adds to its enchantment, making it a focal point for scholars, history enthusiasts, and travellers alike.

A Glimpse Into the Past

The construction of the Old Town of Rhodes commenced in 407 BC, under the guidance of the celebrated architect Hippodamus of Miletus, who is often hailed as the father of urban planning.

Originally engineered to serve both as a formidable fortress and a flourishing port, its strategic position was crucial in controlling the sea routes between Europe and the East.

Over the centuries, this architectural marvel has been shaped by various conquerors, including the Knights of Saint John during the 14th century, whose influence introduced the Gothic architecture that interlaces the town’s Hellenistic and Byzantine elements.

The primary purpose of these extensive fortifications was to safeguard the inhabitants and the treasures of Rhodes from the relentless sieges it faced through its storied past.

Wars and Reconstructions

Throughout its storied history, the Old Town of Rhodes has witnessed numerous sieges, conflicts, and reconstructions that have shaped its present-day appearance.

The most notable siege occurred in 1522, when the town fell to the forces of Suleiman the Magnificent after a relentless six-month siege, marking the end of the Knights’ rule and the beginning of Ottoman governance.

This period introduced a synthesis of gothic and Ottoman architectural styles, evident in many of its edifices and mosques built atop the ruins of churches.The advent of Italian rule in the early 20th century heralded another significant phase in the conservation and restoration of this medieval town.

The Italians undertook extensive archaeological excavations and restoration projects, seeking to preserve the essence of the knights’ legacy while integrating elements of the Renaissance and baroque styles.

These efforts were crucial in maintaining the architectural integrity and historical significance of the Old Town District, even incorporating modern amenities and infrastructure improvements to support its living heritage.

The resilience of Rhodes’ Old Town is not merely a reflection of its stone walls and fortifications but also of its ability to adapt and evolve through centuries of change.

Now, as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it stands as a beacon of cultural preservation, embodying the layered histories and heritages that have passed through its gates.

The Architectural Masterpiece

knightsquarter The Old Town District of Rhodes

The Old Town’s architecture is a patchwork of influences—namely the Hellenistic, Frankish, and Ottoman. Its buildings, monuments, and castles have borne witness to the rise and fall of empires, each epoch leaving its unique imprint on the cityscape.

Gothic and Renaissance in the Aegean

The architectural landscape of the Old Town District of Rhodes intricately embodies the confluence of Gothic and Renaissance styles, nestled within the heart of the Aegean.

The Gothic influence, primarily courtesy of the Knights of Saint John, is vivid in the formidable grandiosity of the town’s fortifications and the pointed arches that grace the narrow streets.

In contrast, the Renaissance period under the Italian rule brought about a revival and enhancement in the architectural elegance, blending seamlessly with the town’s medieval essence.

This period witnessed the integration of classical motifs and the harmonious balance of proportions, evidencing a sophisticated understanding of architectural aesthetics that complements its Gothic predecessors.

One cannot dismiss the strategic embellishments and structural adaptations that characterise this era. The Street of the Knights, arguably the most preserved medieval street in Europe, stands as a testament to this mélange, with its cobblestoned alley flanked by inns that once housed knights by nationality.

The Palace of the Grand Master, resurrected during the Italian occupation, is an exemplar of this stylistic amalgamation, encapsulating the grandeur of a Gothic fortress with Renaissance finesse.

Ottoman Influences in the Old Town of Rhodes

yyeni hamam rhodes The Old Town District of Rhodes

The Ottoman Empire’s conquest of Rhodes in 1522 ushered in a new architectural era for the Old Town District, intertwining its established medieval charisma with distinctive Ottoman features.

This fusion is marked by the perforation of minarets into the skyline, the repurposing of sacred sites, and the introduction of baths and markets that underscored the social and cultural shifts of the period.

Notably, the Suleiman Mosque stands as a hallmark of Ottoman architecture within the town—constructed to commemorate Suleiman the Magnificent’s victory, it blends seamlessly with the historical fabric of the Old Town District, whilst asserting its own identity with its imposing dome and minaret.

Additionally, the influence of Ottoman architecture is observed in the adaptation of public spaces, such as the transformation of existing churches into mosques, including the Mosque of Aga and the Ibrahim Pasha Mosque.

These conversions were accompanied by the creation of intricate water fountains and baths, notably the Mustafa Pasha Bath, which to this day reflects the Ottomans’ sophisticated approach to communal health and hygiene.

The Old Town’s residential architecture also underwent a transformation, integrating features typical of Ottoman civic design.

A Cultural Mosaic

The Old Town of Rhodes, beyond its architectural grandeur, stands as a testament to the cultural interplay and synthesis of civilizations that have marked its history. A city embedded with deep historical roots, it unfolds a rich narrative of cultural exchange, visible in its traditions, cuisine, and daily life.

The amalgamation of Hellenistic, Byzantine, and modern influences shape its unique socio-cultural landscape, offering a multifaceted experience to its inhabitants and visitors alike.

Culinary traditions within the Old Town mirror this cultural fusion, presenting a palette that incorporates Greek, Turkish, and Italian recipes passed down through generations, blending to form distinctive flavours that narrate the island’s past.

Similarly, the various festivals and events celebrated in Rhodes echo the confluence of cultures, where Christian, Muslim, and secular traditions coexist, adding vibrancy to its social fabric.

The Visitor’s Itinerary

Preparation is key to unlocking the best experiences the Old Town has to offer. Whether you are a first-time explorer or returning for an in-depth adventure, these curated highlights promise an enriching sojourn.

Crowned Glories to Visit

In your exploration of the Old Town of Rhodes, certain monumental sites stand out, beckoning visitors with their historical significance and architectural grandeur. Not to be missed are:

  • The Street of the Knights: A path traversed by history, where the echoes of medieval chivalry resonate with every step. Walking this street is akin to a chronological voyage through the era of the Knights of St. John.
  • The Palace of the Grand Master: This imposing fortress encapsulates the essence of the Knights’ period with its Gothic architecture replete with Renaissance touches. It serves as a vivid showcase of the grand lifestyle and architectural prowess of its former inhabitants.
  • The Suleiman Mosque: A symbol of the Ottoman legacy, its impressive dome and towering minaret punctuate the Rhodes skyline, offering insights into the town’s period under Ottoman rule.
  • The Mosque of Aga and the Ibrahim Pasha Mosque: These structures mark the architectural and cultural transitions during the Ottoman era, their histories etched into the very stones and spaces repurposed for worship.
  • Mustafa Pasha Bath: Reflecting the Ottoman emphasis on communal health and cleanliness, this bathhouse remains a testament to the sophisticated urban planning and architectural ingenuity of its time.

Activities and Events in the Old Town

The Old Town of Rhodes, a living museum of history and culture, is host to an array of vibrant events and activities throughout the year that beckon visitors and locals alike.

  • Medieval Festival: Annually, the Old Town transforms into a bustling medieval marketplace. Knights in shining armour, craftsmen, and entertainers take to the streets, offering an immersive experience into the life of the past. This festival is a highlight for those interested in living history and cultural festivities.
  • Rhodes International Culture and Arts Festival: Celebrating the diverse cultural heritage of Rhodes, this festival showcases musical, theatrical, and artistic performances from local and international artists. It’s a window into contemporary creativity set against the backdrop of ancient and medieval monuments.
  • Guided Historical Tours: To truly appreciate the layers of history within the Old Town, guided tours narrated by knowledgeable experts are available. These tours offer insights into the architectural marvels, whispered legends, and storied past of prominent sites including the Street of the Knights and the Palace of the Grand Master.
  • Culinary Workshops: Given the rich gastronomic heritage of the Old Town, culinary workshops present a unique opportunity to engage hands-on with Rhodian cuisine. Participants learn to prepare traditional dishes under the guidance of local chefs, blending history with culinary art.
  • Art Exhibitions and Workshops: Numerous galleries and studios within the Old Town host exhibitions, showcasing both ancient crafts and contemporary art. Workshops offer visitors a chance to learn traditional crafts such as pottery, jewellery making, and fabric weaving from local artisans.

Savor the Night

After a day exploring history and culture, Old Town Rhodes transforms at sunset. The nightlife offers a serene retreat or vibrant social gatherings. Illuminated streets beckon leisurely strolls past monuments.

Tavernas and cafes remain open for Rhodian delights under the stars. Bars and clubs provide lively entertainment into the early hours. Nightclub parties blend heritage with charm. Old Town Rhodes promises unforgettable nights for all visitors.


The Old Town of Rhodes is a living testament to diverse civilizations, offering a vibrant tapestry of experiences. Explore historic sites, cultural fusion, and lively nightlife. Immerse yourself in its enduring charm and discover stories at every corner. Rhodes promises an unparalleled adventure in a captivating blend of past and present.