Rhodes may be one of the most exotic and historically significant of all the Greek islands. Exotic because it sits at a crossroads of cultures, and historic because it's history reaches back to the Minoan era when there was a Cretan outpost at Ialysos.
It continued to be a powerful independent kingdom after the collapse of the Minoan civilization. It diminished during the Roman era, and didn't become powerful again until the Crusades, when the Knights of St. John (Knights Hospitaller) arrived and built their stunning palace in what is now referred to as the Old Town. Under the Knights, Rhodes became a virtually impregnable fortress against the Turks, building a powerful fleet and setting a staging and supply area for Crusaders to and from the Holy Land.
It fell into Turkish hands in 1523 when the Knights left, and remained an Ottoman possession until 1912, when it was seized from the Turks by Italy. Stunningly, Rhodes didn't become part of Greece again until an Allied peace treaty was signed in 1949.
Rhodes today is one of the more popular tourist islands in Greece. Known for reliably being one of the sunniest places in the Mediterranean with a whopping average of 300 sunny days a year, it's as famous for it's gorgeous beaches and nightlife as much as it's fascinating history. Minarets mix with medieval stone walls and buzzing tavernas, crystal-clear beaches - considered some of the best in Greece - welcome overheated travelers with their seaside umbrellas and tempting waters, and hospitable little villages shine white in the hot bright sun. It's the fourth-largest Greek island, so there's plenty of territory to explore.
The Old Town is a place unto itself. Get lost in the stone alleys and explore the tiny shops along Socratous Steet, all the while surrounded by medieval turrets and slender minarets and it's many imposing gates. I could easily spend a couple of weeks in this location alone and not get bored.
Rhodes has a little something for everyone. While I always like traveling to new Greek destinations (because there are so many to see!) and rarely repeat myself, it would not surprise me if I ended up going back to this magical island at some point.
Have you been to Rhodes? Because if not, it's definitely one to put on your list!
(All photos taken by me. Click on images to enlarge.)
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