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Cities in RHODES


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Rhodes was inhabited early and its history begins in the Neolithic period. About 1600 BC the Minoans settled on Rhodes. After the collapse of this empire, several other groups came until Rhodes joined the Dorian League of Cities (700 BC), as well as Kos, Halicarnasos(Bodrum) and several other cities. In the fourth and third centuries BC Rhodes flourished and the present capital was founded.

Approximately 305 BC, the Colossus of Rhodes was erected, a 33-metre bronze statue of the Greek sun god Helios and one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. The Colossus of Rhodes is only mentioned in ancient texts, there is no physical archaeological evidence that the statue existed. The statue was destroyed in an earthquake around 225 BC.

Romans and Byzantines

In the 2nd century BC, Rhodes supported Rome in the fight against the Macedonians. The island is part of the province of Asia. After the Roman Empire was split up, the Dodecanese fell into Byzantine hands. In these Byzantine times (330-1204) Rhodes had to deal with the invasions of Vandals, Goths, Slavs and Arabs. The island was plundered several times.

Venetians, Genoese and knights of St John

After the fall of Constantinople, Rhodes came into the hands of the Venetians. Leon Gabalas became governor of both Kos and Rhodes. The Byzantines did not give up and recaptured Rhodes with the help of Genoa. Genoese admirals became the actual owners of Rhodes. In 1306 the Knights of Saint John arrived on Rhodes, but it was not until three years later that Rhodes Town was conquered. The Knights of St. John left many castles and fortresses. They fought against the Turks for the supremacy of the Holy Land.

Turkish Occupation

During the reign of Sultan Suleyman the Great (1520-1566), the Dodecanese fell into Turkish hands. The Turks gave the islands a form of self-government. The Orthodox Church was also tolerated. However, the administration became less and less efficient. The islanders rebelled several times against the Turkish authority. The Pasha of Egypt was an important ally of the Turks. England, France and Russia came to the aid of the Greeks in their struggle for independence. The Dodecanese came under Turkish influence again after an exchange with Evia.


The Italians landed on Rhodes in May 1912. Initially, the inhabitants of Rhodes were enthusiastic, because the Italians promised to give up the Dodecanese to Greece. But in 1920, Italy annexed the Dodecanese as a province. On Kos and Rhodes, the Italians built a number of government buildings in Fascist style. They also paid great attention to archaeological excavations, especially those of the ancient Romans. The greatest achievement, however, was the restoration of the St. John's Castle in Rhodes Town. The castle was completely restored and designated as a holiday residence for Mussolini.

fter the fall of Mussolini, Germany occupied the Dodecanese. The Germans were more cruel than the Italians. The Jewish inhabitants of Rhodes were deported to concentration camps. After the British invasion, the Dodecanese became a British protectorate. On 7 March 1948, it was reunited with Greece.

Recent history

The Dodecanese and Rhodes did not play an active role in the civil war in Greece, which broke out between the communists and the royalists. Tensions with neighbouring Turkey and the Cyprus issue, however, were important in Rhodes' recent history. The provisional low point in relations between the two countries was in 1996 when there was fighting over a rock called Imia.

Lately, the situation has been stable.

See also the history of Greece.


Facaros,D / Rhodes & the Dodecanese

Griekse eilanden
Van Reemst

Hendriksen,B / Rodos, Kos en dodekanisos
Babylon- De Geus

Hermans, F / Rodos en Kos

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Last updated May 2024
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