The History of Rhodes – Greek Islands

Rhodes was inhabitated from the Neolithic period. From 1500 until 1100 BC, first Cretans and later Achians and Dorians colonized the island. The Dorians founded three cities: Ialusso, Lindos, and Kameros. Then the naval and trading strength of Rhodes developed and continued throughout the centuries of its ancient history. From the 6th Century BC the history of the island has been characterized by various and always different political alliances, such as those with the Athenians in 490, with the Persians in 480 and again with the Athenians in 478.

In 408 BC, the three cities of Rhodes decided to establish, on the northern side of the island, a new city, the city of Rhodes. This city was built in the position of today’s capital, in accordance to the plans of the great ancient architect Ippotamos from Mileto. It was one of the most beautiful cities of ancient Greece, built according to the rules of classical architecture and a center of great importance. Four ports were constructed for the needs of its nautical commerce.

In the 4th Century, the island continued its policy of alliances with different peoples, like that with the Persians against Alexander the Great of Macedonia. When Alexander defeated the Persians, Rhodes made an alliance with him and, after the death of Alexander, with Ptolemy I of Egypt.

Because of this alliance, in 305 BC, Demetrios Poliorketes, enemy of Ptolemy, tried to conquer the island, but he failed. In celebration of this event, the Colossus of Rhodes was built, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. It was a bronze statue of 32 meters at the entrance of the central port of the city of Rhodes. Unfortunately, in 227 BC, an earthquake destroyed it.

In this historical period the island’s currency circulated throughout all the Mediterranean Sea and its trading laws were used everywhere. Rhodes also had a cultural life which can still be experienced today from the locals on a Greece holiday. It had a school of sculpture, where the creator of the famous statue Victory of Samothrace, Pithocretes, worked and a school of rhetoric, where great orators from the Ancient Greek and Roman worlds developed their skill.

The island of Rhodes was also visited by the Apostole Paul, who landed on the coast of Lindos, to teach Christianity. Later in its history, it became part of the Byzantine Empire and in 1248, during the Crusades, it was occupied by the Genoans. In 1309, the Knights of the Order of St. John reached Rhodes. This organization, founded in the 11th Century in Jerusalem with a commercial aim, later acquired military strength and occupied the island until 1522.

The Knights of St. John protected the island with walls and castles and constructed large dwelling places. These constructions, which are in good conditions, today compose the Medieval part of the city of Rhodes, which fascinates the visitor.

After the occupation by the Knights of St. John, the island passed under the domination of the Turks from 1522 to 1912. From this date Rhodes was an Italian possession until 1948, when it became part of Greece.

With the deep history embedded in the island, many historic buildings remain which give the visitor a glimpse of the islands past.

Interesting places to visit which should be included in your itinerary include The Archeological Museum, The Medieval City, The Kastello, The Ruins of the Ancient City of Rhodes, The Ancient Kamiros, The Acropolis of the Ancient City of Ialissos, The Acropolis of Lindos, The Archeological Area of Sarantapihos, and some of the Medieval Castles.

Rhodes sightseeing will enable you to view the picturesque architecture of the island which still stands the test of time today. Greece is one of the oldest civilizations and Rhodes island is a good representation of this.