The Architectural Allure of Rhodes

The Architectural Allure of Rhodes

The second largest of all Greek islands, Rhodes is unlike many of its cousins. The fact that it is a Dodecanese island adds further to its uniqueness. No white washed cube houses, no quaint alleyways and certainly no lack of character. Because what it lacks in traditional Cycladic magic it more than makes up for it in pure cosmopolitan fashion.

Rhodes has seen its fair share of invaders throughout. No surprises there. Pretty much all of Greece was occupied at some point or another. What makes Rhodes stand out are its diverse architectural gems. We’re talking old and gargantuan. Of the epic scale and of epic importance. Ottomans, Venetians, you name it. They’ve been here.

Rhodes was home to one of the 7 ancient wonders of the world; the huge statue of the god Helios that straddled the harbor was the first thing a visitor would see when entering the island. It adds an extra layer of poignancy to the place.  As far as architectural pedigree goes, we think Rhodes has the right credentials.

Then there is the Acropolis of Lindos. Built in 10 BC by the Dorians, the remains surrounding the citadel include the propylaea, a Roman temple dedicated to the emperor Diocletian as well as remains of a Hellenistic wall fortification.

Naturally, the island’s most recognizable and well preserved structure is the Palace of the Grand Master in Rhodes old town. Enormous and imposing, the Knights of St. John Templar built the castle in 14 AD, on the foundations of an earlier temple dedicated to Helios (they sure loved him over there). To say its huge would be an understatement. With over 159 rooms and an assortment of opulent furniture and frescoes, it is stately, to say the least.

The Ottomans on the other hand built what they like doing most: taking baths and chillaxing. The baths of Suleiman or just the Great Hammam of Rhodes was built in the 14th century, during the Ottoman occupation of the island. Nowadays, they do just that; offering spas and massages.

The Italians weren’t done however. One of the most curious architectural feats in Europe took place in Campo Chiaro, or simply Eleoussa in Greek. Going up towards the Profitis Ilias mountain, lies the abandoned town that Mussolini tried to build. It feels as if people just up and left one day. There is a distinct fin de siècle feel to this, with archways and art deco styles from the 1935-36 period that it took to make it happen.

All around the island, are small indicators of what happened and who set foot there. Rhodes is an open air museum, with incredible architectural styles and a wonderful sense of exotic and middle-eastern flavors.