By far the largest town on the island, Rhodes Town straddles its northernmost headland, in full view of Turkey less than 20km north. The ancient city that occupied this site, laid out during the fifth century BC by Hippodamos of Miletos, was almost twice the size of its modern counterpart, and at over 100,000 held more than double its population.
While the fortified enclave now known as the Old Town is of more recent construction, created by the Knights Hospitaller in the fourteenth century, it’s one of the finest medieval walled cities you could ever hope to see. Yes, it gets hideously overcrowded with day-trippers in high season, but at night it’s quite magical, and well worth an extended stay. It makes sense to think of it as an entirely separate destination to the New Town, or Neohóri, the mélange of unremarkable suburbs and dreary resort that sprawls out from it in three directions.
It was the entrance to Mandhráki harbour, incidentally, that was supposedly straddled by the Colossus, an ancient statue of Apollo erected to commemorate the 305 BC siege. In front of the New Town, the harbour is today used largely by yachts and excursion boats.