Rhodes Fortress: description, history and photos of the citadel of Rhodes

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The Rhodian fortress is considered the main attraction of the island of Rhodes in Greece. With Russian tourists, it does not cause such an excitement as foreigners. It is very popular due to its convenient location, as it is located in the historical center of the capital of the island of Rhodes.

Visiting the Rhodian Fortress is an opportunity to see the fortifications built during the Byzantine Empire and the rule on the island of knights-Hospitallers, visit several museums and walk along a major shopping street.

It is difficult to say whether an ordinary tourist should look at all the museums, gates and streets. To see all the interesting things in the Rhodes Fortress, you need to devote her all day. We would recommend visiting only the most interesting places, of which we will write below.

A little bit about the history of the Rhodes Fortress

In 1187, for the first time after the Crusades, Jerusalem was taken. This was not yet the end of Christian rule in the Holy Land, but the first step to this. In 1291, the last bastion of the Crusaders fell in Palestine, the city of Acre.

Knights-crusaders had to decide what to do next. The Knights Templars moved to France, and the second-largest Hospitaller Order did not wish to retire far from the Holy Land. After some time of wandering, they captured the island of Rhodes.

After settling on the island, the Hospitallers decided to rebuild the fortifications.

The process was not very active, but in 1312 an important event occurred. The Knights Templar Order was dissolved, its members arrested, and the property was transferred to the Hospitallers Order. This is a "dark" history, connected with the fact that the European monarchies had great debts to the Templars.

This event benefited the Rhodes Fortress, which the knights began to actively rebuild and strengthen. Money for this appeared.

The Rhodian fortress was the last bastion of Christianity in the eastern Mediterranean, and the knights were actively helped by European countries. The Hospitallers successfully withstood the siege by the Sultan of Egypt in 1444, the siege of the Ottoman Empire in 1480, but in 1523 the Turkish Sultan Suleiman I the Magnificent took the fortress.

Suleiman I is well acquainted with Russian tourists. It was he who was married to the famous Roksolana. The popular series "The Magnificent Age" tells about the time of his reign in the Ottoman Empire.

The Knights were able to leave and settled on the island of Malta, and are now known as the Maltese Knights.

What to look inside

The main and most interesting thing in the fortress is the defensive structures themselves. The Rhodes castle is given the title of the most impregnable bastion in Europe. We would not make such loud statements, since we consider the most impregnable castle of Hohostrewits in Austria . By the way, he did not submit to Sultan Suleiman during his trip to Austria, and he could take the fortress of Rhodes.

Despite the fact that in the end the Rhodian fortress was taken by the Turks, it is a masterpiece of fortification art. We will tell in order of all its elements.


In some sources on the Internet they write that "to enter the fortress you will have to pass 11 gates." This is not entirely true. The fortress has 11 gates, but they are located along the perimeter of the city wall, and not consistently.

Most likely, you have to go through two gates, in the first you will enter, and in the second exit. The photo on the right is the most powerful of them. This is the gate of Amboise. A narrow bridge and two defensive towers on the sides make them almost impassable for enemies.

The Amboise Gate is not the main entrance to the fortress. There are other gates that are considered grand. This is the gate of St. Athanasius. In 1523, the Turkish army of Suleiman I the Magnificent entered the Rhodope Fortress through them.

Immediately after this event the Sultan ordered to seal them. He believed that in this way he would prevent the capture of the Rhodes Citadel in the future.

The third important gate is the gates of St. John. They are not so remarkable, but the most important in terms of history. It was here in 1523 that the Turks broke through into the fortress. This gate is also called the "port of the coccini", which translates as a "red door". According to eyewitnesses, there were so many dead Turks and so much blood was spilled that the gates got this name.

In addition to these three gates, eight more are leading to the fortress. All of them are not so interesting and not very strongly fortified. They lead to the fortress from the sea, in places almost unsuitable for assault. There was simply no need to seriously strengthen these gates.

Byzantine fortifications

When the Knights Hospitallers captured the island, they began to rebuild the walls. All the earlier fortifications erected by the Byzantines were dismantled. Only one wall was left without attention. This wall surrounds the palace of the great master and is called "Collachium" (Collachium).

The Grand Master's Palace

In this castle lived 19 great masters of the Knights Hospitaller Order. After the capture of the fortress by the Turks, the palace came to desolation until the 20th century, when the island of Rhodes was annexed to Italy.

The Italians carried out a large-scale reconstruction of the entire building. It was assumed that there will be a summer residence of King of Italy Victor Emmanuel III, and subsequently dictator Benito Mussolini, who never appeared in Rhodes.

The Grand Master's Palace is open to tourists. Not all rooms are open, but the most interesting you can see. Especially interesting are mosaics. Unfortunately, they are not as ancient as they seem. This is the work of Italian masters of the early 20th century.

Bastions and fortifications of the Rhodes Fortress

All the defenses were divided among several detachments of knights. These units were called "languages", because they consisted of knights of certain regions of Europe speaking certain languages.

In total, the order had seven "languages" (or "langas"), but the fortifications were divided into only five parts. Not every "language" was large enough to defend its own bastion. The most famous bastions of the Rhodes Fortress defended the "languages" of Italy, Spain and England.

The Rhodian fortress had double walls, between which was a ditch about 20 meters wide. Knights defended only the inner wall, and the outer served for intermediate protection against cannonballs. Now the ditch has long been drained, which does not diminish the impression of this masterpiece of medieval fortification.

You can walk along the wall and feel like a defender of the fortress. By the way, during the last siege of the fortress in 1523 the knights themselves were not much. On the walls of the Rhodes Fortress there were only 300 knights and 300 of their squires. In addition to them, the fortress was protected by 5000 Greek militiamen. The Turkish army numbered about 100,000 people.

Archaeological and Byzantine Museums

If you have little time, it is better to visit first the Archaeological Museum. There are several interesting halls dedicated to the knights. By the way, they themselves never called it. Their order is officially called "St. John," and St. John the Baptist is considered the patron saint.

The street of the Knights (or Ippoton Street)

The Rhodes Fortress was surrounded by a whole city where 5000 people lived. The total length of the walls was about 4 kilometers. From west to east the city is crossed by the main street, which is called "Knights Street".

Along this street were houses of knights-Hospitallers, taverns and other important institutions of the city.

Now the street looks exactly the same as in the days of the knights. It's worth visiting for the sake of feeling old, when even a troop of warriors in armor will not surprise you, if you see them here.

Socrates Street

Very popular with foreign tourists. Especially there are a lot of them when a cruise ship moored in a harbor. This is the main shopping street of the city. Most stores open at 10-00 and work almost until midnight.

Here you can buy any Greek souvenirs , leather and fur products. You can sit in a cozy cafe and drink coffee with Greek sweets , or something stronger .

Trade here does not stop even at lunchtime on a siesta. On the street of Socrates prices are slightly higher , but the assortment of trade shops is richer than in other tourist places.

Rhodes Fortress is rightly considered one of the most interesting sights of Rhodes, and we recommend you to come here at least half a day.

Entrance price: Free to the fortress, entrance fee to the museum - 6 EUR.

Working hours: Round the clock.

How to get there: The fortress is located in the heart of the city of Rhodes, it is difficult to miss.

Good luck visiting the Rhodes castle and read our articles about Greece ( links below ).

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