Rhodes Tours - Italian Architecture. 1912 - 1943

In 1912 Italian troops took control of Rhodes and 11 other islands in the Dodecanese. They established an Italian colony known as “Isole Italiane dell’Egeo” (Italian Islands of the Aegean Sea). In the 1930s, there was remarkable economic growth as a result of investments made to the infrastructure of the island by the Italians. They continued to occupy the islands into WWII.

Mussolini embarked on a program of Italianization, hoping to make Rhodes a modern transportation hub that would serve as a focal point for the spread of Italian culture in the East. The presence of the Italians on Rhodes remains visible in the many and varied buildings constructed under their command.

The new Italian buildings reflect the spirit of public administration, and set new benchmarks in the urban landscape. All this public buildings are samples of a colonial policy and are closely linked to the presence of two general governors, equally active, but diametrically opposed in their choices in architecture, Mario Lago (1924-1936) and Cesare Maria De Vechi (1936-1943).

During the years of the occupation, the Italians using the almost free local labor force, they also carried out an extensive program of restorations. The fortification walls were consolidated and conserved for their entire length. They preserved what was left from the Knights’ period, and destroyed all Ottoman buildings. They reconstructed the Grand Master’s Palace, the Knights’ Hospital, and the Filerimos, also the Ottoman additions were removed from the ecclesiastical monuments in the town.

The restoration methods they used are the subject of fierce criticism today. Although they were imposed by the political circumstances of their day, they nevertheless helped to preserve many monuments that would possibly not otherwise have survived to the present.

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