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History of Rhodes Island

 

The human presence on Rhodes can be traced with certainty back to the Stone Age.

The Hellenistic Times

The most important event in the ancient history of Rhodes was the merging of its three city-states (Kamiros, Lindos, and Ialyssos) which occurred between 411 and 408-407 BC. The new city which they decided to build, named Rhodes, was laid out on the northern extremity of the island designed by Hippodamus of Miletus the greatest town planner of antiquity. The ships of Rhodes roved the Mediterranean, and the seafaring and commercial activities of the citizens filled the town with wealth. Apart from being a powerful and independent state, Rhodes also developed at this time into an important center of learning and education. Schools of rhetoric and philosophy sprang up. The great sculptors Deinocrates and Hares were themselves sons of the island, and it was the latter of the two who created the famous Colossus of Rhodes. Rhodes reached the height of its economic and political power in the 3rd century BC and the first half of the 2nd century.

The Roman Period

In 164 BC, Rhodes signed a treaty with Rome. It became an educational center for Roman noble families, and was especially noted for its teachers of rhetoric, such as Hermagoras and the author of the Rhetorica ad Herennium. At first the state was an important ally of Rome and enjoyed numerous privileges but these were later lost in various machinations of Roman politics. Cassius eventually invaded the island and sacked the city.

The Byzantine Period

In 395AD, after the division of the Roman Empire, Rhodes was attached to the Byzantine Empire. The economy of Rhodes became active once more in the post-Byzantine period. As the western Europeans waged the wars of the Crusades in the East, ships from all across the continent moored in Rhodes harbor. And together with the economy, all other areas of life in Rhodes flourished.

The Period of the Knights of St John

In 1309 the Knights of St John of Jerusalem settled in the Dodecanese. Given the multinational composition of the chivalric order, Rhodes inevitably came into economic, political and cultural contact with all of Western Europe. The harbor became one of the most important portals through which goods and ideas passed east from Western Europe. Particularly, after the mid-15th century the Greek population seems to have prospered. A numerous scholarly class of Greeks and Westerners cultivated learning and studied the Classical writers in Greek and Latin. This mixed population of Greeks, Westerns and Jews lived together in a walled city surrounded by orchards of fruit trees.

The Ottoman occupation

In 1522, after a bloody Turkish siege led by Suleiman I, the knights were forced to evacuate the island. The island was populated by ethnic groups from the surrounding nations. Turkish sovereignty over Rhodes lasted until 1912.

The Italian occupation

In 1912, Italy seized Rhodes and the Dodecanese Islands from the Turks. Due to the Treaty of Lausanne, the island, together with the Dodecanese, was officially assigned to Italy. It became the core of their possession of the "Isole Italiane dell'Egeo".

The German occupation

In 1943 the Germans attack Rhodes and the Dodecanese islands. Despite the numerical superiority of the Italians, they were defeated after several battles by their former German ally. The Germans rule Rhodes, Leros and other surrounding islands until May 1945.

The British administration

In 1945 after the German surrender of the Dodecanese islands passed formally under the British administration which continued to use Italian, Italy still has all that at the time sovereignty until the final passage to Greece.

The unification with Greece

In 1948, together with the other islands of the Dodecanese, Rhodes was united with Greece. Nowadays, Rhodes attracts more tourists than any other Greek island, and it is once more a crossroads for the peoples of the world, who come to enjoy its natural beauty and the historical memories which permeate its atmosphere and can almost be said to emanate from the soil.

 

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