History of Rhodes
Rhodes, the largest of the Dodecanese islands, is not an ordinary holiday resort but a cosmopolitan place with an international reputation.
Indeed, this relatively limited space, endowed with innumerable natural beauties, is rightly considered a tourists' paradise. Holidays here are not restricted to the three summer months, as the sunny period lasts much longer.
In Rhodes everyone can choose their preferred type of holiday -- the intensity of an excellently equipped major resort or the peace and quiet of a small, traditional seaside or mountain village. Swimming in the crystal-clear waters of Rhodes is equally fascinating on populous beaches or on isolated pebbled seashores.
Lovers of history will be drawn to the remarkable monuments all over the island, signs of its long history. Those who prefer mobility will find an adequate network of roads enabling them to reach almost every corner of the island. Daily air and sea communications with other islands, numerous tourist agencies open limitless horizons to the traveller.
Given its present reality, Rhodes would resemble a rose (rhodon in Greek) rather than the mythical nymph after whom the island was allegedly named.
Strategically placed, the island has had a tumultuous past linked to the sea. Rhodes was already inhabited in prehistoric times. The island gradually expanded its influence and became the main commercial link in the Mediterranean. In 408 BC the island's three important Doric cities, Ialissos, Lindos and Kamiros, united to found the city of Rhodes on the island's northeastern edge. This marked a new era in the history of the island.
The Sun-worshipping city of Rhodes became an important political, commercial and religious centre. Its golden era lasted from the 5th to the 3rd century BC. Rhodes extended its rule, minted its own coins, introduced the first maritime law rules, advanced the arts, theatre and sports. Its School of Rhetoric became famous and attracted many well-known Romans and Greeks.
In the 2nd century BC Rhodes became an ally of Rome. This led to a gradual weakening of the island, which from the 2nd century AD became a Roman prefecture.
St Paul visited the island and recruited the first Christians in 57 AD. When the Roman Empire split in 395 AD, Rhodes and the other islands of the "Provincia insularum" were included in the Byzantine Empire. New seafarers attacked and often looted the city in the following centuries.
The Knights of the Order of St. John were established in Rhodes in 1309. Their stay has endowed the city with a series of majestic buildings protected by a fortified wall. From 1522 onwards the Dodecanese islands formed part of the Ottoman Empire until, in 1912, they fell under Italian rule. The Treaty of Paris ended foreign occupation, and in March 1948 the islands were united with Greece.