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Rhodes Town

by Patrick O'Halloran
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I will start by saying that The Old (Medieval) Town of Rhodes (Rhodos) is a wondrous higgledy-piggledy maze of narrow streets and paths that is all part of its charm. If you get lost (we did) just see it as an opportunity to explore. Just keep walking and you will eventually spot a landmark or familiar cafe or taverna by which time you will almost certainly need a cold drink. If in doubt just ask someone for the way to Sokratous which is the Main Street in Rhodes Town.

Cruise ships dock in Acandia Harbour which is a stone’s throw from the Old Town. When you approach the walls of the Old Town of Rhodes, you are about to enter the oldest inhabited medieval towns in Europe.

Although there are many gates, we suggest that you first enter through The Virgin Mary Gate as it is the nearest to the dock. Upon leaving the dock turn right and follow the small harbour around until you see the Dolphin Sculpture. The entrance is a little further on your left.

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Upon entering you will find lots of little cafes which are great for a coffee and WiFi. On the few times we have visited we always stop here as it is also a great place to people watch. Especially those wide-eyed cruisers, who seem to walk around not quite believing their good fortune at stopping at another amazing port of call. I know. I’m one of them.

Palace of the Grand Master

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The Palace of the Grand Master is magnificent and probably looks much the same as it did back when it was built during the 14th century. The interior is a different story as it was devastated by an explosion in the 18th Century. It’s €6 to enter but a €10 combination ticket will also grant you access to the Archaeological Museum, the Virgin of the Castle and the Rhodes Collection. Reduced entry is just €3 for EU citizens over 65 (proof of age required), under 18’s free entry.

Roloi Clock Tower

Roloi Clock Tower

 

Some great panoramic views of Rhodes Town can be found at the top of this beautiful 7th-century clock tower. It’s usually open from around 9 am until late at night so you should have no trouble fitting it into your day. Entrance fee is 5 Euro but you get a drink included. There is no lift but the climb up is not too arduous.

Archaeological Museum

This impressive museum displays important findings excavated from the surrounding Dodecanese islands. Of special significance is the museum’s amphorae collection, especially the statue depicting the Aphrodite of Rhodes and is said to date back more than 2000 years. You can combine a visit here with the Palace if the Grandmaster for €10 (see above).

Hora

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Hora is one of three areas that make up the old town of Rhodes. The other two being the Knights Quarter and the Jewish Quarter. The Hora is home to bustling and lively streets filled with cafes and stalls. Walking through the cobblestoned lanes you can find early Christian churches which were converted into mosques, the most famous being the pink-domed Mosque of Suleyman the Magnificent.

Street of the Knights

 The Street of the Knights (Ippoton on maps) is one of the best preserved medieval relics in the world. The long, cobbled paved street was constructed over an ancient pathway that led in a straight line from the Acropolis of Rhodes to the port. In the early 16th century, it became the address for most of the inns of each nation and housed Knights who belonged to the Order of St. John. The inns were used as eating places and temporary residences for visiting dignitaries. Their facades reflect the various architectural details of their respective countries.

Socratous Street

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The Main Street that runs through the centre of town is filled with lots of souvenir and craft shops. Perfect for picking up that memento from your visit.

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After touring the sites of the Old Town of Rhodes, you might want to walk around the walls. (The museum operates a 1-hr. tour on Tues and Sat at 3pm, beginning at the Palace of the Knights.) The fortification has a series of magnificent gates and towers, and is remarkable as an example of a fully intact medieval structure. Much of the structure can be viewed from just walking around the

Outside the Walls

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Venturing outside the city walls and you are back in more familiar territory. It’s not as pretty but there are still some interesting places to see. Not least the location of one of the Wonders of the Ancient World. The Colossus of Rhodes. Ok, so the massive statue of the Titan, Helios is long gone, thanks to a massive earthquake in 226BC but where he stood, astride the entrance to the harbour, is marked by the bronze statue of a Stag and a Doe. We had a photo taken there just so we could say we stood where the Colossus once did.

Our last visit to Rhodes was in the wake of the Manchester Arena bombing and we found ourselves in the pretty Evangelismos Church to light some candles in memory of the victims.

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It’s a very pleasant stroll along the harbour here. More so if there is a nice breeze blowing in off the Mediterranean. There is plenty of opportunity to get a boat trip to various parts of Rhodes, most commonly Lindos on the south of the island, but always keep in mind your ship boarding time and ask how long the trip takes. Personally if we ever take a private trip or tour we always keep it to a half day max as unlike a ship guided tour they don’t guarantee getting you back to your ship before it departs.

Lunch

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We can recommend a very nice Taverna situated at Hippocrates Square – Its called Plaka and overlooks the square itself. We ate lunch here. It was a nice, friendly traditional type taverna that served an amazing Greek salad, amazing bread and ice cold beers. We sat upstairs with great views over the busy square. There are a few other similar restaurants around the square, probably of similar standard, but I personally would recommend Plaka.

Warning: In the couple of times we have visited Rhodes Town we have encountered groups of women selling wristbands and jewellery near the port, outside of the city walls. Be wary of them. With amazing sleight of hand they will have attached a band to your wrist and start demanding payment. They get quite aggressive when you say no. We witnessed this first hand with a young Dutch couple who literally had to run away from the women. We just gave them a very wide berth.

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Patrick O'Halloran

Cruisers, Bloggers, Cocktail Drinkers.

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