In this section of the medieval tour I want to talk to you a little on The Walls And The Gates In Rhodes Old Town. We have discussed other areas of the medieval city in previous sections, but what history lies within those huge fortification walls and gates?
When you look at the actual walls, you can of course see that the laying of the stones is not set out in a traditional or ordinary pattern. Instead, they are set in what you could call an unpolished and/or imperfect way. They are huge stones which have been shaped as needed and set in mortar. This style used for building is called Rubble Masonry.
The Walls were originally built in the Byzantine, but as I have mentioned elsewhere
on this website, The Knights Of Saint John augmented and solidified them and gave them more strength. This was done when The Knights took hold of the island after 1309.
This was done for a very important reason too. The walls now with the original Rubble Masonry and the attention given after by The Knights, have a very strong capability in that they can withstand blasts from weapons such as rifles and mortar fire. Also, the entrance with the two towers (Marine Gate and other areas) were made into a circular shape as opposed to leaving the original square shaped structures. This way they can deflect attacks from cannon fire.
The Gates Of The Medieval City
Naturally, set into the walls are big entrance gates. These were all guarded by The Knights from the different Langues. There are eleven gates in total. Some of them have been made into a modern standard, but some still remain in the original condition.
Liberty Gate – This is one of the main entrances into the medieval city and it was constructed by the Italian Forces in 1924. I have also discussed a little more on the Italian Rule on The Street Of The Knights section. The Italians are responsible for a lot of the reconstruction in Rhodes, and this gate was erected after they conquered the island from the Ottoman Empire. Hence, the name Liberty Gate.
After entering the Liberty Gate area, you can head up to The Castle Of The Knights, and you can also make your way around to the Harbor of Rhodes.
Gate Of The Arsenal – This gate was constructed by Juan Fernandez De Heredia who was the appointed Grand Master Of The Knights from 1377 until his death in 1396. His Coat Of Arms is also on display on the gate. It is located to the left as you drive through the liberty gate and the building on the right is now home to the Electric Office.
The Gate Of Saint Paul – This gate was built during the 15th Century and its prime purpose was access. At the time of construction, it offered an entry point into the Old City and also a path to the Harbor. This harbor is called Kolona harbor.
It might be interesting for you to know that during World War Two, Saint Paul’s Gate was hit heavily and almost fell. It was rebuilt early in the 1950s!
Marine Gate – This is one of the more well-known gates of The Medieval City due to
the very noticeable and huge towers. This gate also suffered a lot of damage in The Second World War, and like Saint Paul’s Gate, it was also rebuilt in part at the beginning of the 1950s.
When you look at this gate, you will see that the structure itself is very close to the water, and therefore it was one of the strongholds during the conflicts in earlier times. It was almost impossible to breach this entrance!
The Gate Of The Virgin – The location of this gate is next to a church which is called The Virgin Of The Burgh. Burgh is also known as ‘Chora’ and it means ‘Space’ in ancient Greek and here it refers to the Main Town. This gate is said to have been designed by the Italians during their presence, but it actually opened in 1955 under Greek Legislation.
Arnaldo Gate – The Arnaldo gate is a small entrance that allows access to the hospital of Saint John. This is now the building which houses The Archaeological Museum. To the best of my knowledge this gate was put in place simply for access to this area.
The Gate Of Saint John – This is a very beautiful gate and a very well visited one too. This gate is also referred to as the Red Gate, or Red Door. The reason for this, is during times of conflict, lots of soldiers lost their lives here and during the bloodshed the stones were colored red.
You can see why this gate has the attraction of visitors. It has an important historic meaning and here you can really feel the history surround you.
Gate Of Saint Catherine – This gate is also referred to as the Gate Of Agia Aikaterini and is a small gate located on the corner near what is now called The Tourist Port. It was built in 1357 by Grand Master Dieudone De Gozon. The gate is also referred to as The Windmills Gate!
The Gate of Saint Athanasios – This gate is also referred to as The Saint Francis
Gate. The reason for this is the church which is located outside of the gate is called Saint Francis Church!
It was built from 1440 to 1442 but after the invasion of the Ottoman Empire, Suleiman had the gate closed from then on. This was to avoid any potential threat from an invasion against him, and for nobody to be allowed to follow his entrance into the city.
The gate remained close until 1922. The Italian Forces opened the gate to commemorate 400 years since the Ottoman Empire had conquered the island of Rhodes.
The D’Amboise Gate – This gate is a very imposing and glorious gate and it is
located near The Palace Of The Grand Masters. It has a huge protected approach path, two gigantic towers and a very solid entrance.
The name of the gate comes from the Grand Master Emery D’Amboise, as it was during his term that it was constructed on the North West corner of The Medieval City.
Acandia gate – This gate was another one used to make connections to the commercial harbor. The Italians opened this gate in 1935 and a new road was also established to connect the gate with the Virgin gate. It is located on the South East area of the Old City.
As you can see the walls and the gates cover a large area. All together the walls and gates combined cover a distance of 4 Kilometers and have kept The Medieval City safe and secure in past conflicts. Naturally something of this quality in architecture is strong, and this is why it still stands here on the island of Rhodes in all its glory even today!
So what are your thoughts? Do you think it would be a place to attract you for a visit? I would love to know your opinions.
Hey, maybe you have even been here before – If so feel free to leave a comment below with a little information on your experience.
Thanks so much once again for reading.
Until next time!