Early travelers described Rhodes as a town of two parts: a castle or high town (Collachium) and a lower city. Today Rhodes town—sometimes referred to as Ródos town—is still a city of two parts: the Old Town, a UNESCO World Heritage site that incorporates the high town and lower city, and the modern metropolis, or New Town, spreading away from the walls that encircle the Old Town. The narrow streets of the Old Town are for the most part closed to cars and are lined with Orthodox and Catholic churches, Turkish houses (some of which follow the ancient orthogonal plan), and medieval public buildings with exterior staircases and facades elegantly constructed of well-cut limestone from Lindos. Careful reconstruction in recent years has enhanced the harmonious effect.
The great hall that holds Dinoris was built in AD 310 as a hospital and then converted into a stable for the Knights in 1530. The fish specialties and the spacious, classy setting lure appreciative and demanding clients, from visiting celebs to Middle Eastern sheikhs. For appetizers, try the variety platter, which includes psarokeftedakia (fish balls made from a secret recipe) as well as mussels, shrimp, and lobster. Other special dishes are sea urchin salad and grilled calamari stuffed with cheese. In warm months, cool sea air drifts through the outdoor garden area enclosed by part of the city's walls.
Mahalis Hatziz, owner of Astero Antiques, travels throughout Greece each winter to fill his shop with some of the most enticing goods on offer on the island.
Icons and frescos from churches throughout Rhodes Town (most of them long since destroyed) are displayed within the 11th-century Lady of the Castle church, once the Byzantine cathedral and, under the Turks, a mosque.
Walls of Rhodes
One of the great medieval monuments in the Mediterranean, the walls of Rhodes are wonderfully restored and illustrate the engineering capabilities as well as the financial and human resources available to the Knights of St. John. For 200 years the Knights strengthened the walls by thickening them, up to 40 feet in places, and curving them so as to deflect cannonballs. The moat between the inner and outer walls never contained water; it was a device to prevent invaders from constructing siege towers. You can also get a sense of the enclosed city's massive scale by walking inside the moat
The Turkish Library dates to the late 18th century and houses a rare collection of Turkish, Persian, and Arab manuscripts, including many rare Korans. Striking reminders of the Ottoman presence, the library and the Mosque of Suleyman are still used by those members of Rhodes's Turkish community who stayed in Rhodes after the 1923 population exchange, a mass repatriation of Greek and Turkish migrants.
Inn of France
The Inn of France, the most elaborate of the striking inns on this famously historic street, today houses a French languge institute (appropriately enough). The facade is ornately carved with the fleur-de-lis and heraldic patterns and bears an inscription that dates the building between 1492 and 1509.
Mosque of Süleyman
The Mosque of Süleyman was built circa 1522 to commemorate Sultan Süleyman's conquest of Rhodes and rebuilt in 1808, with a graceful minaret and distinctive pink and white stripes.
The Hospital of the Knights, completed in 1489, houses the town's Archaeological Museum. In the courtyard just beyond the imposing facade are cannonballs from the Ottoman siege of 1522, and, in surrounding halls, are two well-known representations of Aphrodite: the Aphrodite of Rhodes, who, while bathing, pushes aside her hair as if she's listening; and a standing figure, known as Aphrodite Thalassia, or "of the sea," as she was discovered in the water off the northern city beach. Other important works include two 6th-century BC kouros (statues of idealized male youth) found in the nearby ancient city of Kameiros, and the beautiful 5th-century BC funerary stela of Timarista bidding farewell to her mother, Crito.
Loggia of St. John
Before the court of the Palace of the Grand Masters is the Loggia of St. John. This 19th-century neo-Gothic structure stands on the site of the 14th-century church of St. John, patron of the Knights of St. John and the final resting place of many members of the order. Used as an ammunition storehouse during Turkish occupation, the church was reduced to rubble in an explosion sparked by lightning in 1856.
Palace of the Grand Masters
The Knights of St. John built most of their monuments along a street known as the Street of the Knights (Ippoton), which descends from the Palace of the Grand Masters, at the highest spot of the medieval city, toward the commercial port. This cobbled lane is a little more than a third of a mile long and follows the route that once connected the ancient acropolis to the harbor. This medieval assemblage is bordered on both sides by the Inns of the Tongues, where the Knights supped and held their meetings. The Palace of the Grand Masters of the Knights of Rhodes (to use its official name) is a massive affair with fairy-tale towers, crenellated ramparts, and more than 150 rooms. Situated at the top of the Street of the Knights, it is the place to begin a tour. Unscathed during the Turkish siege of Rhodes in 1522, the palace was destroyed in 1856 by an explosion of ammunition stored nearby in the cellars of the Church of St. John; the present structure—a Mussolini-era Italian reconstruction—was rebuilt in a storybook, pseudo-medieval style then all the rage in the early 20th century and was later used as a holiday abode for King Vittorio Emmanuele III of Italy. Today, the palace's collection of antiques and antiquities includes Hellenistic and Roman mosaic floors from Italian excavations in Kos, and in the permanent exhibition downstairs, extensive displays, maps, and plans showing the layout of the city will help you get oriented before wandering through the labyrinthine Old Town.
Museum of Decorative Arts
Housed in a stone-vaulted warehouse of the Knights, the town's museum of decorative arts today exhibits finely made ceramics, wooden tools and utensils, and costumes and textiles from the various regions of the Dodecanese.