I could literally spend days in Old Rhodes. It has all the charms of an ancient city and it was easy to imagine myself going back in time as I walked the narrow, stone streets with small doorways and arches. I indulged in purchasing a hand painted bowl depicting my favorite Greek goddess, Artemis, added two ceramic masks to my collection and bought a couple of silver pendants, one with Minoan bees and the other with the Greek symbol for infinity. They serve to remind me of my incredible time in this country.
We walked the grand halls and rooms inside the Palace of the Grand Masters admiring the beautiful architecture and wooden carvings. The current castle is relatively new. A Byzantine citadel once stood on the site. Later, Rhodes was the headquarters for the Knights Hospitallers during the crusades. The original palace that stood in the area was built in the 14th century by the Knights of Rhodes. It was largely destroyed by an ammunition explosion in 1856. The “new” palace still invokes a sense of wonder despite its relative age. Entire mosaics found throughout Greece were beautifully laid into the floors of many rooms. A modern art exhibit featuring the woven metal dress creations of Nikos Floros was an enjoyable juxtaposition of antique and modern.
My brother and I also explored the back streets of the walled town. It was a strange mix of everyday life in a city that has stood for literally ages. Ancient streets with modern garbage cans, the written tension of political grafiti and the indifference of those who were simply living their lives in a devastated economy was boldly apparent outside the hustle and bustle of tourism just a alleyways away.
As the sun set we walked out to the end of the harbor, the cool gentle breezes blowing in from the sea. Though not historically accurate, we stopped for a photo op where it was once thought during medieval times that Colossus stood. One of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient world, regardless of where Colossus commanded his view, it must have been an impressive sight to behold.
Old Rhodes at night seemed to surge with energy. Shop lights glowed, hosts beckoned to take a seat in their tavernas and if anything the pace seemed to pick up. We didn’t stay long though. It was back to business and time to get ready for the next day of competition.