RHODES – windmills and gates
Saturday – a sleep in and by the looks of things out the window it is another beautiful day.
I think I am still feeling a bit full from the dinner last night but nevertheless I head for the buffet breakfast. Just a light affair of fruit, toast and coffee and then I approach the front desk to ask about tours seeing that my booked one was cancelled.
Well, she is about as helpful as one chopstick! Back to the room and get my bag, cameras etc and me and my feet head off – and after giving her a snort as I pass by I feel better.
Back down to the harbour, I love being near the water. Some really great buildings – below left is the Central Port Authority
I develop a plan for today. After walking around the bay I will head over to the far side to discover the famous windmills which are situated on the long breakwater of Mandraki Harbour. After enjoying the breeze and the windmills I will head my tootsies along the waters edge and head for the Medieval Old City and the Palace of the Grand Master. That should take up most of today. It is starting to heat up so let’s get the long walk around the harbour out of the way.
First stop – the medieval windmills – they were used to ground the grain that came from the commercial ships docking in the harbour.
It is believed that there were once 13 or 14 windmills, but most of them have disintegrated over time. Three of these beautiful structures have been renovated and stand as majestic reminders of times past, unfortunately there are no sails turning today. Personally I think they just use the sails in photos to promote tourism.
At the end of the breakwater is the Fort of Agios Nikolaos – better known as St Nicholas. Due to its strategic position it was subject to the most brutal attacks during sieges, as whoever could capture this Fort would more or less gain control of the harbour.
It was originally constructed as a relatively small round tower with a diameter a little wider than 17 metres in 1465 by Grand Master Pedro Raymondo Zacosta and was adorned with a relief of Saint Nicholas (patron Saint of the sea travellers) and the Coats of Arms of Master Zacosta and the Duke of Burgundy who had financed the construction.
The Tower was severely damaged during the siege of 1480 but was restored and fortified with a solid outwork (bastion) by Master Pierre d’ Aubusson, who finally converted it into a powerful fort. A small chapel in favour of St. Nicholas had also been built inside the protective bastion.
Walking past the fort to the end of the walkway – I find a seat and just enjoy more of the harbour.
See the tower on the left? In front of it is a tall column where a stag stands guard. On the side where I am now is a similar column with a doe.
These columns are where the Colossus of Rhodes had his feet firmly planted. This painting of the Colossus hangs in the hallway of my hotel. It must have been a wondrous sight – he was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World and depicted the sun god Helios. Made from bronze by the local sculptor Chares in 280 BCE, he stood a gigantic 33 metres high. Sadly, the giant Helios did not last long. Toppled by an earthquake in 228 or 226 BCE, its massive broken pieces cluttered the docks of Rhodes for a millennium before being melted down as scrap in the mid-7th century CE. What a sad end.
Time to move on – back past all the high class boats including this one tucked away – JB – London. Do you really think this boat really belongs to Bond, James Bond? I lurked for a while but didn’t see anyone resembling Sean Connery, Roger Moore or Pierce Brosnan.
My hopes of becoming a ‘Bond Girl’ dashed – time to continue towards the Old City. Supposed to take 10 minutes – but I stop and look at everything. It is a lovely day, the sun is shining, the water is as blue as the sky and a breeze every now and again doesn’t go astray. The Medieval Old Town is my next destination. Below right is the Gate of St Paul.
Located in the north-eastern corner of the Medieval City, this Gate used to connect the harbour of Mandraki to the De Naillac Pier. A semi-cylindrical tower in the inner part of wall bears a marble sculpture of the coat of arms of the House of Grand Master d’Aubusson (1476-1503) right next to those of the Order and Pope Sixtus IV.
Construction works on the Gate and this part of the fortifications as a whole were completed around 1477, as part of a wider project towards reinstatement of the northern walls commissioned by Grand Master d’Aubusson.
The Gate was almost completely demolished during World War II and was rebuilt together with Marine Gate in 1951. The bastion protecting Gate of Paul the Apostle is an eloquent token of masterful construction technique and a point of reference for fortification works specialists.
Twelve cannon holes meant to cover a wide range between the two harbours and the Fort of Agios Nikolaos (St. Nicholas).
After a walk around, it is back to the street and not far away is the Gate of The Arsenal. Constructed by Juan Fernandez De Heredia who was the appointed Grand Master of The Kings from 1377 until his death in 1396. His Coat of Arms is displayed on the left of The Gate.
I am still outside the Old City, so a stroll along the waterfront to look at the boats that display a range of goods for sale.
Wind chimes made out of shells, rocks, beads and glass catch the breeze and sound magical – I could sit here all day. They also sell all sorts of jewellery – sponges and anything else that comes out of the sea. In hindsight I wish I had got myself a wind chime – maybe when I return?
Next is the Marine Gate –
Marine Gate (also called St. Catherine’s Gate or Sea Gate) is located south of Arnaldo Gate in front of the Commercial Harbour in Rhodes. It was erected by Grand Master Pierre d’Aubusson in 1478 as a means of defence against possible Ottoman attacks.
This impressive gate is a work of art – time to enter the Old Town.
I try not to be conspicuous and loiter for a while listening to this tour guide – very informative but I mustn’t stay too long or he will want to charge me for his services.
Through the gate and I am confronted with these ruins (below) – they are what remains of the Temple of Aphrodite.
The shrine dates back to the 3rd century B.C., and was built to honour Aphrodite, the goddess of love and beauty.
The once majestic structure is now a pile of ruins surrounded by a small fence. Time to head for the Street of The Knights.