The Palace of the Grand Master. This was the view from my hotel room. *sigh*
Did you know there were bona fide knights in Greece in medieval times?
Not the first thing you'd think of, right? Knights were a part of the western European tradition, and not especially something you think about when you think of southern Europe. Coats of armor, jousts, all of that - those were in France and England and such.
Well, yes. And also no.
While knights and their accoutrements were not indigenous to Greece, Crusaders and others came through and many stayed, bringing their courtly customs with them. Look at a map of Europe, showing the Mediterranean, all the way to north Africa and the Holy Land. Whether by land or sea, anyone from western Europe who wanted to get to Jerusalem had to go through Greece.
And go through they certainly did. Greece is bedecked with castles and fortresses built by these groups and others; mountain strongholds and graceful palaces and port-guarding citadels feature in the most unexpected places, both on the mainland and in the islands.
One such group were the Knights of Rhodes (also called the Knights Hospitaller and the Knights of St. John), an interesting and surprisingly progressive order that called the island of Rhodes home for a couple of centuries. I was able to visit the Palace of their Grand Master, and to call it impressive is an understatement.
If you think a history buff can only get their geek on with Greek antiquities, here is a whole new avenue of interest. Even if you're not a history buff, who doesn't like looking at castles? Seriously, we all love that stuff, right?
So grab a leg of mutton, hoist a tankard of ale, give your squire the night off and take a look at the new article about the Knights of Rhodes.
Ye faithfull scribbling wenche,