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  • Writer's pictureRuth Mcbride

Those guys again?

Day 115/138 2022/2023 Viking Neptune World Cruise. Rhodes, Greece.

What a treat to wake up in a port where we can start our tour from the pier, and we were walking too! No meeting in the Star Theatre and waiting for our number to be called. No inter port shuttle bus. No walking a long distance to a cruise terminal. No getting on a bus outside the port gates. No going through security. No immigration process. How wonderful it was to meet our guide with her lollipop on the pier for our walking tour, with our Quiet Vox headset in our ear.

Ready to go walking in Rhodes!

Walking out of the cruise port area of Rhodes.

Walking right off the ship, to get on the walking tour of the city is what I like about River Cruises, which is different than Ocean Cruises. There is something to be said about being able to walk from the ship to the old downtown section of the town; to be able to explore independently; sit in a pub and watch the world go by on cobblestone streets; meander, while lost down those cobblestone streets and wonder at what will be around the next corner. I think we will enjoy Rhodes because it is starting off the right way for us!

We really enjoyed our day in Rhodes, and that probably is a huge understatement.

Its not hard to figure out where we are! GREECE!

We started our day as I mentioned above by meeting our guide for our included tour at 8:20am on the pier. Since we were a little early for our tour, we were given a guide and when her allotted spots filled up, a new guide was given to the next group of people to fill their tour.

Fishing on the corniche in Rhodes.

Walking towards the walled city of Rhodes. The dolphin statues are by Mr. Kostas Neofytou a famous Greek sculptor/poet, which are near the Mandraki port, where the Neptune was docked.

Entering Rhodes through the Marine Gate (St Catherine’s Gate)

Our tour guide Mary, was originally from France and married a guy from Rhodes, so she was very knowledgeable about European history, but not just from the perspective of someone who had lived her entire life in Rhodes. We were taking the included tour of ancient Rhodes specifically because we preferred to do a shorter walking tour, than to sit on a bus to go anywhere else in Rhodes.

Rhodes is the ninth largest Island in the Mediterranean and of course is a Greek Island. The island of Rhodes has a population of 124,000+ people and is located northeast of Crete and southeast of Athens. Known as the ‘Island of the Sun’ due to its patron sun god Helios; or ’The Island of the Knights’, named after the Knights of Saint John of Jerusalem who ruled the island from 1310 to 1522. Yes, those guys again! The same guys that had built the Akko or Acre Fortress, up the road from Haifa, Israel in the 12th Century and were also known as the ‘Knights Templar’.

Walking through the ancient city of Rhodes.

The Order of Knights of the Hospital of Saint John of Jerusalem, known as the Knights Hospitaller was founded in the 12th Century in Jerusalem and since that time have moved around to Acre/Akko; Cyprus (1302-1310), Rhodes (1310-1522), Malta (1530-1798) and Saint Petersburg (1799-1801). The Knights have their allegiance to the Pope and arose in the 12th century within the Benedictine monastic order that sought to strengthen religious devotion and charity for the poor. The order originally set up a hospital in Jerusalem and also became a military religious order charged with the care and defence of the Holy Land. Once they were defeated by Islamic forces in Israel, they moved briefly to Cyprus and then established themselves with a palace in Rhodes. It was this ‘Palace of the Grand Master of the Knights of Rhodes’ that we were going to be exploring today with our guide, once we walked through the ancient streets of Rhodes, learning about the many different nations that ruled Rhodes throughout the years.

Because of Rhodes strategic position between the East and the West, it has constantly been under attack and ruled by different countries over the years. From 490 BC the Persians, then the Turks and Saracens ruled Rhodes. The Knights of Saint John fortified the City of Rhodes with citadels, castles and built the Palace of the Grand Master as well as the Castle of Monolithos and the Castle of Kristina. In 1523 the Ottomans took control of the island until 1912. During the first World War Rhodes was taken over by the Italians until 1943. The Italians contributed to the development of the island with the renovation of important sites and the construction of new buildings. After WWII, in 1947, Rhodes became a part of the Greek State. Whew! My brain is exploding with all of this information! In fact our tour guide asked us to remember only 3 things from our day with her:

  1. Our guide’s name was Mary

  2. The Colossus of Rhodes, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World was never situated on the harbour in Rhodes, but at the Acropolis of Rhodes which sat on a hill overlooking the harbour.

  3. The Knights of Malta, are also the Knights of Rhodes, originally the The Order of Knights of the Hospital of Saint John of Jerusalem.

Our guide Mary said that it is proven that people who take tours only remember 20% of what they heard on their tour. With so much information being given to us at once. I can see how she might be correct with this statistic!

As we wandered through the ancient city of Rhodes Mary pointed out to us how the various races that had ruled Rhodes changed the city’s architecture. From the Ottoman Turks who constructed mosques, public baths and mansions for the new patrons and converted churches into mosques and added wooden balcony’s for Islamic women to remain behind, during prayers. The Italians when they ruled Rhodes, reconstructed and restored the Venetian-Latin past of many of the buildings and pulled off the wooden balconies and Muslim decorative items, to try and restore the historical buildings in the old city. The Italians also renovated the port, expanded the road network, improved the water supply and defences and divided up the city of Rhodes into its ethnic populations. Muslims in the West, Jews in the east and Greeks in the northern section with Italians taking a section west of the Castle of the Old Town.

We headed to the Palace of the Grand Master of the Knights of Rhodes to walk through the medieval castle with our guide.

Our first glimpses of the Palace.

Our guide pointed out that the stone on the lower half of the Palace vs the upper half of the Palace was different. If you look closely you can see that when the Italians restored the Palace, they used smaller, rectangular stones for the top of the Palace.

A dad was trying to get his sons to smile for photos on the Palace steps while we were waiting to go inside and they were not co-operating. It was fun to watch their facial expressions as he tried and tried to get the perfect shot!

The Palace was originally built in the 7th century as a Byzantine citadel. After the Knights Hospitaller occupied Rhodes and some other Greek islands, in 1309, they converted the fortress into their administrative centre and the palace of their Grand Master. After the 1522 capture of the island by the Ottoman Empire, the palace was used as a command centre, military fortress and prison. The palace was largely destroyed by an ammunition explosion in 1856. When the Italians ruled Rhodes after 1912, an Italian architect resorted the parts of the palace in a grandiose pseudo-medieval style between 1937 and 1940, so no one really knows what the original palace looked like because it has been added on to, and restored but not from any original drawings. The palace became a holiday residence for the King of Italy and later for Fascist dictator Mussolini when the Italians ruled Rhodes.

Our guide was explaining something and I tuned out to sit and look at the statues and the architcture. Sometimes having that squawk box thing in my ear is just too much, when there is beautiful architecture in front of me, that I just want to take in on my own!

Sharon our neighbour from Canada was also taking the included tour on a later tour than us and she was able to snap our photo for us.

There were a lot of steps to climb in the Palace and for an included tour it really was difficult for a lot of folks, especially because there were no handrails on the very big stone steps! Something to consider when thinking about this included walking tour of Rhodes!

The mosaics on the floors were made in the late 1930’s, so they are not very old, but were very beautiful.

The crest of the Knights.

A nice niche for a beautiful vase in the Palace.

A beautiful mural glass chandelier from Italy in the Palace.

A room in the Palace.

After wandering around the Palace with our guide, it was time to say farewell to our Guide, so we could wander around Rhodes. While it was nice to visit the Palace, and it is a tourist attraction, it was really not that special a palace because it has served many purposes, and it felt a bit ‘put together’ as a tourist attraction. It was good to see once, but I wouldn’t go back to it if I was in Rhodes again.

Wandering the cobblestone streets of the old city of Rhodes.

Narrow little streets with beautiful stone walls.

Beautiful purple wisteria hanging over the walls.

It must be laundry day and what better place to hang the laundry but in the alley way!

Steps up to a wrought iron gate. I wonder where that path leads to?

Cats in the alley, leading to a beautiful red door in the distance.

Looking through the archway towards the old city of Rhodes.

Daisies. It was beautiful to see a field of daisies in the crumbled old ruins of a building in the old city of Rhodes.

The old fashioned lamp is beautiful, but I love looking through the opening in the wall, and down the alley way.

So chill. Having a coffee, smoking a cigarette with headphones on, listening to music, in the old city of Rhodes. I guess she’s living her best life!

This doorway and arch colour didn’t really work for me, but it is colourful!

We came through the alley way and stumbled upon this old church, Holy Trinity, 15C. I really loved taking this shot and thought it would be one of my better ones from today.

My favorite shot of the day. The back of the old church, with the rusty wrought iron railing, framed by the purple bush over growing the fence, beautiful yellow daisies all over the grass, with the remains of stone walls. If only I had this much material to photograph back home! I think if I lived in Rhodes I would be taking photos every day of the year of these beautiful ancient buildings and narrow alley ways!

What a beautiful city to get lost in! We enjoyed getting away from everyone and finding each little street to see where it would take us, knowing that we were never really, lost, because it was easy to see where the water was, to know how to get back to our ship.

We found a charming little out of the way restaurant for lunch which we really enjoyed called KRISTINAS ROOMS. A perfect little spot to sit and enjoy the nice temperatures, great food, and be in a charming little courtyard by ourselves.

This parrot was the main attraction outside the cafe Richard was having some wine in. The parrot

Chilling with his wine in a cafe in Rhodes.

I ate the popcorn of course! Popcorn is my essential food group and unfortunately we do not get popcorn on the Neptune, so I miss it!

After lunch we walked back to the busy shopping area of the old city of Rhodes and it was time to park Richard in a cafe with a half carafe of local Greek white wine. He loves to try table wine, and in Rhodes, it was excellent!

While Richard was parked it was my turn to go for a shopping expedition! I wandered around the shops to see what I could find and I found a great linen store selling Greek linen and was able to buy some really nice, long, linens shorts in my size. Being 6 feet tall it is hard to find good long shorts, and especially nice cool linen ones! I also got Richard a couple of nice linen shirts too and the prices were great because the store had a sale on these items.

I love a nice straw hat too and I was able to find a hat store with some beautiful hats. I couldn’t resist this nice grey straw hat, so I had to buy it!

I thought that the shopping might be better in Turkey, so I didn’t really want to buy too much in Rhodes, so I found Richard back where I had parked him and sat with him and watched the people go by.

Look closely. See who is grabbing a drink from the fountain in front of the cafe where we were sitting?

I saw other people with the parrot on their arm, so I had to give it a go too!

And that is a wrap in Rhodes!

Rhodes was a wonderful port and such a beautiful place to spend a sunny, warm afternoon relaxing and enjoying life! Having the ship so close to the old city of Rhodes, was amazing and we enjoyed our very short walk back to the Neptune after spending all day in the old city. Rhodes is definitely somewhere I would go back to because we only saw the old city and I know there is so much more we could have seen.

The time is really flying by and trying to catch up on blogs, without sea days, and spending so much time on our icon project is really catching up to me. I will try to get the blogs finished for our next two ports since I am now really behind and its driving me crazy!

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Hi Ruth, we went to Rhodes for our honeymoon back in 91 and again for our 20-something anniversary. We are heading there again next week for a wedding! Great pictures and blog. Enjoy the remaining time on the cruise.


Allan Yoshimura
Allan Yoshimura

Really like your favorite shot of the day with the wrought iron fence and tree framing the back of the church. Btw, the mural glass chandelier in the Palace of the Masters is Murano glass from the island off Venice. Mary might be right about the 20%. Think I'm around 10%! Your blogs will be terrific memory joggers.

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