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+30 2241029222 info@rhodesexperience.com

Why Rhodes Offers the Most Immersive Medieval Experience in Europe

The Street of the Knights in Rhodes

Medieval history buffs simply must add Rhodes to their bucket list; there is a strong case for claiming Rhodes offers the most immersive medieval experience in Europe! Rhodes has been one of the most popular Greek islands for tourism for decades, and anyone who has visited can attest to the island’s beauty, its rich culture, and its friendly people. But today we’re not talking about all the reasons why Rhodes is a wonderful place to visit; we’re looking at why it’s the ultimate spot for anyone interested in medieval history. Keep reading to find out more, and sign up for the email guide series below if you’d like to read weekly guides and articles about Rhodes.

    Rhodes Has Changed Hands Over the Centuries

    By far the largest of the Dodecanese Islands, Rhodes offers a strategic advantage to anyone who holds it. This is why it has changed hands over the centuries, with a history that spans four millennia, from the Neolithic period all the way to today. However, the most fascinating portion Of Rhodes’ history for many is the role the island played during the Middle Ages — particularly during the Crusades when it was occupied by the Knights Hospitaller of Saint John.

    So much of the island’s medieval past remains intact, and in remarkable condition. This is why we’d like to make a case for Rhodes being the best place in Europe to visit if you want to see and feel what it was like during medieval times. Much of the content of this guide draws from Rhodes Experiences’ Jewish Quarter and Medieval Rhodes Tour, so please check it out if anything here inspires you.

    The Medieval City of Rhodes is a UNESCO World Heritage Site

    Panoramic view of Rhodes’ incredible Medieval Town

    While many places throughout Europe have well-preserved buildings and sections of cities that date back to the Medieval Era, not all of them have been awarded UNESCO World Heritage Site status. The entire Medieval Old Town in the City of Rhodes is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and it’s easy to see why when you visit. This part of the city is incredibly well preserved.

    While you’ll find parts of Rhodes from the Hellenistic Period (323 BC – 30 BC) and they are fascinating to behold — especially the Acropolis at Lindos — none of this earlier era has persevered nearly as well as the Old Town fortifications built by the Knights Hospitaller. In 1309 AD, the knights began building on top of walls that had already been established by the island’s previous Byzantine occupants, only the knights built them to last by taking advantage of the rich resources afforded to them by their recent conquests and a specific technique called rubble masonry. The walls are incredibly well preserved — even to this day.

    The Street of the Knights

    Photo courtesy of Jorge Láscar.

    Within the Old Town, you’ll find the Street of the Knights. This is widely lauded as the best-preserved Medieval street in Europe and it honestly feels like you’ve stepped back in time as the buildings, walls, cobbles, etc, are almost immaculate. The street joins the Church of the Knights and it runs the entire way up to the Palace of the Grand Master. There is a lot of history to unpick about this street, with various buildings and points of interest to discuss, but we’d rather leave some facts and stories for our email guides and for the tour itself… For now, we’re confident that the image above is impressive enough — even to the most jaded traveller!

    The Palace of the Grand Master

    Preview of the ornate decor inside the Palace of the Grandmaster

    While the entire old town is an impressive testament to the Knights of St. John’s building prowess, the star of the show is arguably the Palace of the Grand Master. For some it’s the Street of the Knights, for others it’s the Palace; you’ll have to decide for yourself! This 14th-century palace was the lavish home of the leader of the Knights of St. John, serving as the ultimate status symbol in medieval times.

    Today, Rhodes’ Palace of the Grand Master is a rather impressive museum packed with medieval artefacts, such as art, furniture, and several ornate mosaics. The palace is in remarkable condition, as are the myriad medieval furnishings found inside. There is so much history to this place and to the enigmatic leaders who called it home, so we highly recommend paying a little extra for the benefit of a local guide. Of course, Rhodes Experience is extremely proud of our own tour guides who are endless fountains of knowledge about Rhodes spanning across our diverse range of Private Rhodes Tours (click to look at our other tours and experiences).

    The Jewish Quarter

    Rhodes’ Holocaust Memorial

    Lastly, we’d like to talk about La Juderia — the Jewish Quarter within Rhodes Old Town that is packed with history and fascinating sights. While there have been Jewish people living in Rhodes for close to 2,000 years, the large influx of Jews did not arrive here until the 16th century, when they were expelled from Spain. Arriving at the tail end of the medieval era, the Jews set themselves up within what is today referred to as The Old Town. Here, they flourished and prospered for many centuries, and it was only in the 20th century, with the persecutions faced by Italian fascists, that the Jewish population declined.

    The Jewish landmarks are very impressive; you’ll see Alhadeff Park and Alhadeff Street, named after a respected local family. You will also see the Square of the Martyred Jews, which contains a seahorse fountain and Rhodes’ Holocaust Memorial. The highlight for many who visit the Jewish Quarter, however, is the Kahal Kadosh Synagogue, which happens to be the oldest synagogue in Greece, also doubling as Rhodes’ Jewish Museum. If you are particularly interested in Rhodes’ Jewish history, check out our Tour of Rhodes and its Jewish Heritage.

    Immerse Yourself in Rhodes’ Medieval History

    So, we’ve said a lot about Rhodes’ medieval history and about the surviving buildings, streets, and monuments that remain in remarkable condition to this day. This is the reason why many travellers and historians consider Rhodes Old Town to be the most immersive medieval experience in Europe and we don’t disagree! We hope we’ve inspired readers with a penchant for history to add Rhodes to the top of their bucket list. We also run a Medieval Rhodes Walking and Wine Tour if all that history and culture leaves you parched and ready to sample delicious local wines.

    Even if you aren’t ready to book your perfect Rhodes Experience with us today, we’d like to give you more to read and get excited about. If you’ve enjoyed what you’ve read today and you’d like to learn more about our special island, please sign up to the email guides below. And get in touch if you have any questions about our tours. Rhodes is such a special place and we’re thrilled you’ve already shown such an interest!

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