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City sights of medieval Rhodes

Nowhere conveys medieval times as strongly.

Rhodes has been dubbed the Crusader Island thanks to its extraordinary wealth of medieval forts and monuments but nowhere is more impressive than the Old City area of Rhodes itself, full of character and with some very impressive sights.

You may have visited medieval towns before but nowhere else conveys the essence of medieval times as strongly as the Old City of Rhodes.

The Old City of Rhodes is divided into three main districts, the Knights' Quarter (Kollakio), the Jewish Quarter and the Hora (Turkish Quarter).

Visitors enter the Old City through nine main gateways, known locally as 'pyles' and its cobbled streets are lined with an amazing mixture of Byzantine, Roman and Turkish styles peppered with a series of public squares.

Nowhere is this more powerfully felt than in the Street of the Knights. Surrounded by a 600 metre long fortified wall the street is bristling with famous landmarks.

Walking along Street of the Knights feels as though you have been sucked into a time warp. The street is lined with medieval stone buildings once used as inns for Crusader officers of the Knights of St. John who built it in the 15th and 16th Centuries.

Among its impressive sights are the Palace of the Grand Master on a hilltop that dominates Rhodes. The palace was originally built in the 14th Century as a residence for the Grand Master head of the Holy Order of the Knights of St John.

Most of it was destroyed in the 19th Century in a huge gunpowder magazine explosion but restoration work around 1940 incorporated many of the original elements.

For examples of Rhodes' Ottoman past you can visit the Hora where early Christian churches were converted to mosques and many more built from scratch. The best of these is the pink-domed Mosque of Süleyman, built in 1522 to celebrate Ottoman victory over the Knights.

The Jewish Quarter tends to be overlooked by visitors but this area of quiet streets houses the Kahal Shalom Synagogue, built in 1577 and Greece's oldest surviving synagogue. The Jewish Synagogue Museum nearby has exhibits of 1,673 Jews deported from Rhodes to Auschwitz in 1944.

Wherever you are in Old Rhodes you cannot miss seeing the city walls. The impressive four kilometre long walls encompass the whole of the city.

Built in various time periods, most of the work was done by the Knights of St. John in the 14th and 15th Centuries when the use of cannon was becoming common.

Ramparts were built to make them even more impenetrable and a deep ditch all the way around served to entrap the enemy.

Don't leave Rhodes without a visit to the Archaeological Museum housed in the old Knights of St. John hospital.

This two-floor building is easily recognize by eight arched opening in its facade and the shady square courtyard bordered by vaulted loggia.

For any visitor to enjoy the atmosphere of this remarkable city they need only walk around and get lost in the ting, narrow streets and alleyways and have a camera ready to capture some remarkable scenes.

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