History of Rhodes: The Island of Rhodes has had civilizations since antiquity. The mysterious Minoans were the first to come her in about 1600 BC, though very little remains of their culture or history. Some time after another group came to the island, the Telchines, who inhabit the island until  the Mycenaean Greeks invaded the island in 1500 BC. Again, lost nothing remains from these cultures. During these times, the history of both Greece and Rhodes was carried on by myths and tales handed down, instead of record keeping, so many of the stories are sketchy at best. There was the sanctuary of Athena on the island, where gifts were brought from all over the world, there were great temples and teachers that taught at schools there. The vast majority of these stories can only be hinted at by small things found at archaeological sites.

 

Silver drachma of Rhodes, 88/42 BC. Obverse: Radiate head of Helios. Reverse: Rose, «rhodon» (ῥόδον) the symbol of Rhodes.

When the Persians came, they overran the island, but were defeated by the Greeks from Athens at Marathon. After that came the The Peloponnesian War which lasted from 431 to 404 BC, which left Rhodes mostly unscathed. During this time the great city of Rhodes was constructed on the northern part of the island by the Athenian architect Hippodamus. The island was following it’s own course for some time, but it was short lived. A series of invasions put the island under different leaders rule until Alexander the Great defeated the Persians and restored peace to Greece in 332 BC.

 

After the death of the leader Alexander, Rhodes importance began to rise as a maritime, cultural and commerce city. During that time, it’s money could be found all over the Mediterranean. The city was besieged once more, but this time withstood the onslaught and the used the spoils of the war to build the famous Colossus of Rhodes. After the invaders left all of their military equipment, the peope of Rhodes sold it, and built a massive statue, considered one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. The statue stood for almost 56 years until Rhodes was devastated and earthquake in 226 BC Rhodes earthquake.

 

The Third century BC was a period of great wealth and power for Rhodes. Their navy was powerful and their economy thriving, due in part to their alliance with Egypt. But time and war and the growing influence of the new great world power, The Roman Empire, finally brought a decline to the independent state. When the Roams first came, the favored the island nation and enjoyed many privileges, but in the end they sacked the city and sent their exiles to live there.

 

The Byzantine period began for Rhodes began around the year 400, and the island was transferred between different powers for almost 900 years. Various wars and conflicts occurred between the Islamic Umayyad forces of Muawiyah I, the Cibyrrhaeot Theme of the Byzantine Empire and the Muslim forces of the Seljuk Turks took place until Rhodes was recaptured by the Emperor Alexios I Komnenos during the First Crusade. During this time, around  600 AD, Rhodes influence in maritime issues led to a collection of maritime laws known as «Rhodian Sea Law»that was used throughout the region for hundreds of years.

 

Fountain square at the ancient site of Kameiros.

When the Byzantine Empire began to crumble, the island was occupied by forces of the Knights Hospitaller. Under the rule of these new «Knights of Rhodes», the city was rebuilt into a model of the European style. Many of the city’s most famous monuments were built during this period. The knights built strong walls and a fortress that withstood the attacks of the Sultan of Egypt in 1444, and a siege by the Ottomans. Eventually Rhodes fall to the hinge army of Suleiman the Magnificent in December 1522. Any knights that survived this massive attack were set free to go back to Europe. The knights were given twelve days to leave the island and were allowed to take their weapons and valuables with them. The inhabitants were given a choice to stay or go.  The Ottomans held the island for four centuries after. The island was important to the Ottomans for a trade route, but the left very little influence there.

 

In 1912, Italy took Rhodes from the Turks during the Italo-Turkish War. This was the start of the short Italian period. They built a magnificent spa at Kalithea bay. With the start of World War Two, the island was used by the Italians and Germans both as a garrison. The Germans took most of the islands 2000 jews of the island and sent them to camps in Europe, though some escaped to Turkey. The British attempted to take the island, but failed.

 

At the end WWII, the island in the region had no organized government. In 1947, Rhodes became a part of the nation of Greece. While there had been a loose association for over 2000 years, they were now officially a part of Greece. In the 70’s the island was discovered by sun seeking tourists that had perhaps seen the location in Hollywood films. It wasn’t long before people were flocking to the amazing beaches, much like the Romans had long before them.