Rhodes (Ródhos) is deservedly among the most visited of all Greek islands. Its star attraction is the beautiful medieval Old Town that lies at the heart of its capital, Rhodes Town – a legacy of the crusading Knights of St John, who used the island as their main base from 1309 until 1522. Elsewhere, the ravishing hillside village of Líndhos, topped by an ancient acropolis, should not be missed. It marks the midpoint of the island’s long eastern shoreline, adorned with numerous sandy beaches that have attracted considerable resort development. At the southern cape, Prassoníssi is one of the best windsurfing spots in Europe. If you want to escape the summer crowds, take a road trip into the island’s craggy and partly forested interior: worthwhile targets include the castles near Monólithos and Kritinía, and frescoed churches at Thárri, Asklipió and Áyios Yeóryios Várdhas.

Brief history

Blessed with an equable climate and strategic position, Rhodes, despite its lack of good harbours, was important from the very earliest times. The finest natural port served the ancient town of Lindos which, together with the other Dorian city-states Kameiros and Ialyssos, united in 408 BC to found a new capital, Rodos (Rhodes), at the windswept northern tip of the island. The cities allied themselves with Alexander, the Persians, Athenians or Spartans as conditions suited them, generally escaping retribution for backing the wrong side by a combination of seafaring audacity, sycophancy and burgeoning wealth as a trade centre. Following the failed siege of Macedonian general Demetrios Polyorketes in 305 BC, Rhodes prospered even further, displacing Athens as the major venue for rhetoric and the arts in the east Mediterranean.

Decline set in when the island became involved in the Roman civil wars and was sacked by Cassius; by late imperial times, it was a backwater. The Byzantines ceded Rhodes to the Genoese, who in turn surrendered it to the Knights of St John. After the second great siege of Rhodes, in 1522–23, when Ottoman Sultan Süleyman the Magnificent ousted the stubborn knights, the island once again lapsed into relative obscurity, though heavily colonized and garrisoned, until its seizure by the Italians in 1912.

Book through Rough Guides’ trusted travel partners

Greece features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

Budget trips: 20 of the cheapest places to travel

Budget trips: 20 of the cheapest places to travel

That ever-growing travel wish list might be putting some pressure on your pocket – but there are plenty of destinations where you'll get more bang for your b…

11 Oct 2017 • Emma Gibbs camera_alt Gallery
11 tips for travelling in Greece

11 tips for travelling in Greece

Although the news has been full of negative stories about the financial and immigrant crises which have engulfed Greece in recent years, there are still many r…

02 May 2017 • Nick Edwards insert_drive_file Article
A divided island: a journey through time in Cyprus

A divided island: a journey through time in Cyprus

Cyprus has been a divided nation for over 40 years, but fresh reunification talks have offered hope of a united future. As Cyprus prepares to make history aga…

26 Apr 2017 • Darren Loucaides local_activity Special feature
View more featureschevron_right

Privacy Preference Center

Necessary

Mandatory - can not be deselected. Necessary cookies help make a website usable by enabling basic functions like page navigation and access to secure areas of the website. The website cannot function properly without these cookies.

PHPSESSID,aelia_cs_selected_currency,cookie_notice_accepted,RS,bp-message,bp-message-type,id,UIDR,w3tc_logged_out,__cfduid
__cfduid

Statistics

Statistic cookies help website owners to understand how visitors interact with websites by collecting and reporting information anonymously.

__utma,__utmb,__utmc,__utmz,_ga,_gid,__atssc,__atuvc,__atuvs,di,dt,ssc,ssh,sshs,uid,uit,xt
__utma,__utmb,__utmc,__utmz,_ga,_gid
__atssc,__atuvc,__atuvs,di,dt,ssc,ssh,sshs,uid,uit,xtc

Marketing

Marketing cookies are used to track visitors across websites. The intention is to display ads that are relevant and engaging for the individual user and thereby more valuable for publishers and third party advertisers.

__gads,PISID, BEAT, CheckConnection TempCookie703, GALX, GAPS, GoogleAccountsLocale_session, HSID, LSID, LSOSID, NID, PREF, RMME, S, SAPISID, SID, SSID,__utmv, _twitter_sess, auth_token, auth_token_session, external_referer, guest_id, k, lang, original_referer, remember_checked, secure_session, twid, twll,c_user, datr, fr, highContrast, locale, lu, reg_ext_ref, reg_fb_gate, reg_fb_ref, s, wd, xs
__gads,PISID, BEAT, CheckConnection TempCookie703, GALX, GAPS, GoogleAccountsLocale_session, HSID, LSID, LSOSID, NID, PREF, RMME, S, SAPISID, SID, SSID
__utmv, _twitter_sess, auth_token, auth_token_session, external_referer, guest_id, k, lang, original_referer, remember_checked, secure_session, twid, twll
c_user, datr, fr, highContrast, locale, lu, reg_ext_ref, reg_fb_gate, reg_fb_ref, s, wd, xs