Rhodes: Palace of the Grand Master


Did you know that Greece also has its castles full of stories about knights and kings? That might be a secret worth exploring. Maybe we are used to admiring the ancient ruins, beaches and natural beauty of the country. But we should not forget that Greece also had many influences from other cultures throughout the centuries, which left some gems around the islands and the mainland.

Rhodes is the largest of the Dodecanese islands, known for its beautiful beaches, medieval street of the Knights and the Palace of the Grand Master. Located in the old town of Rhodes, the Palace of the Grand Master of the Knights is the most important monument on the island.

Let´s have a better look at the Castle´s history.

The Grand Master Palace was first built in the 14th century by the Knights of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem who was present on the island from 1309 to 1522.  It was the Grand Master’s residence, as well the biggest social and spiritual center on the Greek island. Rumor has it that it was built on the ruins of a Byzantine fort dating back to the 7th century.

When Rhodes was captured by the Ottomans, the castle was converted into a military fort and later a prison. In 1856 lightning hit the Grand Master’s Palace causing ammunition’s blast and destroying a significant part of the castle.

Decades later, in 1912 the Italians who occupied Rhodes rebuilt the castle, in a pseudo-medieval style.  This means that the palace we see today is not a genuine medieval structure and we cannot be sure if there is any resemblance with the original building. Even though this will remain a mystery, we know for sure that Victor Emmanuel III of Italy choose the Grand Master’s Palace to be his Summer Palace. You can find his name today just right outside the main entrance.

So if you visit Greece and go to Rhodes you can have a tour inside the Castle which is now a museum. Hosting a big variety of exhibitions you can see rooms restored by the Italians, medieval objects, guns, tombs, statues, books, jewels, paintings and the mosaic floors from the late 1930s.

So in case you are not a big fan of Castles and Knights you can see that the Grand Master Palace in Rhodes is so much more than that. Just like most of the hidden treasures you find when you visit Greece.

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