Our bus tour from Lindos dropped us outside the massive walls of Rhodes Town. This wall and its gates can be seen in “The Guns of Navarone” starring Gregory Peck. This movie was filmed in Rhodes, but the only really recognizable part is Rhodes Town harbor and walls. It’s a pretty good WWII movie, too; we watched it after we got home. It brings home the desperate nature of the Greek fight against the Nazis.
We walked along the sidewalk between the walls and the harbor. This is perhaps the most perfect stroll anywhere, for charm and history. The weather was brisk, but not cold. The perfect curve of the shore, encircled by the great arms of the fortified harbor walls belie the martial nature of the whole structure.
The city walls are tall and thick, dating from the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem [the Hospitallers]. Run out of the Holy Land by the Saracens, then out of Cyprus at the fall of Constantinople to the Turks in 1291, the Knights fortified Rhodes. They held the island until Suleiman the Great defeated them, and Holy Roman Emperor Charles V gave them Malta [for the rent of 1 falcon a year]. Unlike the Templars, the Hospitallers maintained their immense wealth and good reputation until gunpowder made them irrelevant.
Boats festooned with sponges and starfish were pulled to the shore, but no shopkeepers [boatkeepers?] were in sight, so we walked on. There was a little beach ahead to our right and I saw people picking up things there, so I went down to look. It was hundreds of potsherds and weathered bones! I think it must be modern trash thrown into the harbor, but I picked up very traditional jar handles and even one painted piece.
We entered the city, shopping and photographing along its narrow, winding streets. Tiny stone staircases and buttressed alleyways competed for attention. Few people were about, even our fellow cruisers. Only about half the shops were open, although we watched folks opening up as we walked. A cruise ship with 3000 tourists is worth a drive into town to open your CTC shop. We took many scenic photos, rivaling those we took at Pals. One features a pigeon sitting atop the owl of Athena on the town well.
Growing fatigued, we sat in an outdoor cantina, covered by a sprawling fig tree. We had tea and baklava. Baklava is an ambrosial confection of phyllo dough, almonds, and honey. In the interests of research and lending credence to this report, you should try it. The honey of Rhodes is deep in color and stings the throat with richness.
Finishing our rambles, we walked back to the ship, taking an amazing photo of the bow of the ship nearly piercing the walls of Rhodes Town. There were 3 of those Greek windmills, traditionally used for grinding grain, but with their arms and sails removed for the winter.
Back on board at 3:30, we sat on our balcony watching a storm come in from Turkey, with squalls of falling rain approaching. We could see the large extent of the medieval walls encompassing about half a mile square; the modern city is 8 sq. miles. Dark clouds sailed in over the medieval town, making a dramatic ending to our nearly perfect day.
1. My funds are limited. Should I visit Rhodes or Pals?
Pals is easier to get to.
2. I want a winter getaway, renting a car and spending a week in the most scenic, romantic island, with byways to explore and regional crafts.
Rhodes is an island, but the Med coast of Spain is also wonderful.
3. I want a summer getaway, renting a car and spending a week in the most scenic, romantic island, with byways to explore and regional crafts.
How do you feel about Euro-trash drunks and screaming brats?
4. Who cares about the Knights of St. John?
There must be someone somewhere.
N4 29 Cruise 7
CTC = cheap tourist crap
[12-17-09] for photos, visit