Rhodes boasts a magnificent and exciting history. Venetians, Turks, Greeks and the Knights of Saint John were only few of the island’s occupants, each leaving their own mark. As a crossroads of nations and civilizations it would only be natural that Rhodes illustrates a mosaic of colors, styles, architecture and aromas.
Kares were supposedly the first residents of the island, coming from Minor Asia. The Phoenicians and the Minoites from the neighboring Crete were the next who resided on the island, settled in the area of Ialyssos in 1500 B.C. and largely contributed to the economic prosperity of Rhodes.
Around 1100 B.C., Dorians took over the island and founded three big cities: Lindos, Kamiros and Ialyssos.
During the Macedonian sovereignty, the Rodians allied with the Macedonians, but after the death of Alexander the Great, they allied with the Ptolemies of Egypt. On 305 B.C., the Rhodians had to fight off Dimitrios Poliorkitis and in order to remember their big victory created the Colossus of Rhodes, one of the 7 wonders of the world.
The construction of this great statue, dedicated to Sun, lasted about 12 years, between 305 and 293 B.C. and its sculptor was Lindian Haris. According to the most reliable scientific research, the statue depicted God Sun, was made of copper and its weight was about 225 tons. Its special characteristics are not completely accurate and scientists are still trying to determine its figure deducting information by the coins of this era. It is believed, however, that he wore a wreath on his head and he was holding a torch, a sword or an arc. The statue stayed in place for only 66 years. Due to a strong earthquake in 227 B.C., this grand statue fell. The Rhodians, believing that this was a curse, did not even try to restore it. On 653 B.C. the Arabs ravaged the island and the Corsairs, with Moavia as their leader, collected the Colossus and transferred it to Syria. According to tradition, it required 900 camels to carry the pieces of this gigantic statue.
Rome was a predominant power throughout the Mediterranean region since the end of the 3rd century B.C. The Rhodians, during the end of the Second Macedonian War, allied with the Romans and on 164 B.C. the Romans made Rhodians sign a new treaty, according to which they would have common friends and common enemies. Casius, wanting to avenge Caesar, totally ravaged the island.
Rhodes was one of the first islands that converted to Christianity. On 57 A.C., Apostle Paul stayed in Rhodes, and more specifically in Lindos, and taught the island’s inhabitants this new religion. On 395 A.C. Rhodes became a Province of the Byzantine Empire and the city of Rhodes became the island’s capital.
On 620 A.C. Rhodes goes under the Persian sovereignty and it was then when the island was invaded by the Saracens and the Seljuks, who actually destroyed a big part of it. On 1204 A.C., after Istanbul’s fall, Rhodes together with many other islands was granted to the Venetians. Finally, on 1261 the island’s governance returned to the Genovese Admirals.
On 1306 the islands of Rhodes, Kos and Leros were sold to the Knights of Saint John. A new era started then for Rhodes, since it became the new grand military, economic and commercial power of the region. The Knights, who came from many different catholic countries, managed to conclude to agreements with the Great Powers of the Western Europe, aiming to weaken the Muslims that started to expand in the region.
During the Venetian sovereignty, Rhodes became a powerful commercial hub and a considerable military power. It was then that the Medieval City was built, as well as the cities’ fortifications, monasteries and many churches. Arts and literature started to blossom and the inhabitants, influenced by the Venetians, adopted a lifestyle and a rich mentality that still distinguishes them.
On 1522, after a 6 month siege, Rhodes fell under the Ottoman rule and the sovereignty of Suleiman Sultan. For about 4 centuries the Ottomans ruled the island. The Rhodians didn’t participate in the 1821 Greek Revolution and, like the rest of the Dodecanese Islands, was not included in the newly established Greek State, but remained under Ottoman occupation.
In 1912, Rhodes was under Italian occupation and remained in this status until 1945. On March 1948 and according to the Paris Treaty, Rhodes and the rest of the Dodecanese Islands were finally included in the Greek State.