Rhodes Town is such a historic city that it’s always fun to just walk its medieval streets at random and see what you come across next. But today we decided to get a different perspective on the town by walking around the massive walls that encircle it.
Unfortunately, for reasons unknown, the walls are only open for walkers from midday until 3pm, during the hottest part of the day – of course, there’s no shade up there – but we don’t mind suffering for our art, so we took on the challenge.
As we had time to kill, we walked to the beach to sit in a trendy beach bar, overlooking lines of beds of frying flesh. It was strange to think that this hedonistic beach scene was sitting just 15 minutes away from the historic atmosphere of probably Europe’s most complete medieval city.
Once the sun had got to its highest point, it was time for some wall walking. The huge walls are probably the tallest construction in the city, so they provided a great alternative view over Rhodes Town, its skyline, a mix of minarets, church towers and palaces that tells you the story of the different powers who have controlled the island over the centuries. As we shuffled along the elevated dusty path – a medieval version of New York’s High Line – you couldn’t help but think about the huge amount of labour that must have gone into their construction. The walls are 12 metres thick (36 feet wide) in places, and are 10 metres high (30 feet tall). How scared must the Knights of St John have been to go to these lengths (and widths)?
As it turned out, they were right to be scared, because the city fell in 1522 after a 6-month siege from the Ottomans, so perhaps any wall-building politicians should be aware that these barriers can only hold out so long, before the tide of history washes over them.
Rhodes is such a historic treasure trove – it was great to get that different perspective.