Its walls began being built after the earthquake of 515 AD. On them you will find signs narrating the events that have been taking place since. The current form of the wall and the character of the Town enclosed in it, were chiselled by the Knights of St. John, who arrived on Rhodes in 1309 and remained for 200 years.
They are the ones who built the battlements, the moat, the bridges and the 11 gates. Remarkable public buildings, three hospitals and many churches were also built. The knights created the town we now call the Old or Medieval Town and divided it into two sections: the Collachium and the Bourg. Buildings that housed the Knights and the administration were located in the Collachium. The Bourg, the larger of the two areas, is where the local population, made up of Greeks, Jews and Latins, lived and worked.
When the Turks conquered Rhodes in 1522 and the Knights left, the Old Town changed dramatically. Minarets were erected on the churches. There was a new addition to the hustle of the town: the voice of the muezzin calling the faithful to prayer. Mosques and public baths were built. For many years, the Greeks weren’t allowed to live within the walls. They were only permitted to work here and had to leave at dusk, before the gates closed.
In 1912, the walls and the Old Town were given a new lease of life. The Italians took over the reins from the Turks. Ruined and run-down buildings were restored and space was created for parks. People’s lives began to improve.
Life in the Old Town has been continuous and thriving for the last 1500 years. More than 5,000 people live or work here today. This hive is now protected as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Its narrow streets, smells of the bazaar, huge wooden doors and merchants’ smiles enable the visitor to feel and see things which can only be experienced here. The Town is full of sights and museums showing its past.
Yet, it is also proud of its today's young self, offering its visitors the joys of music, culture, food and drink. It gives them the chance to relax in the cool courtyards of the cafés, to haggle in the busy market streets and to have conversations while drinking ouzo and enjoying small mezé dishes.