Rhodes History

"Praise the sea maid, daughter of Aphrodite, bride of Helios, this isle of Rhodes."
(Pindar, Odes Olympian 7 ep1

According to Pindar, Helios lay with Rhoda (Nymph of the island of Rhodes and daughter of Poseidon) in her island and soon after she gave birth to seven sons. The older three sons, Ialysos, Kamiros and Lindos divided the island of Rhodes into three major parts and named the strongest cities of each part after themselves. This account by Pindar reflects the contemporary archaeological evidence of the three major ancient cities of Rhodes: Lindos, Ialysos, and Kamiros; All three cities are mentioned in the Iliad by Homer.

The island of Rhodes was inhabited since Neolithic times, and was an important Bronze Age center. Later, Rhodes, along with Kos, Knidos, and Hallicarnassos was a major Dorian hub in the eastern Mediterranean, and it remained in the forefront of commercial and military activity throughout Classical, Hellenistic, and Roman times.
The city of Rhodes was created in 408 BCE by the inhabitants of the three older cities (Ialysos, Lindos, and Kamiros) to be the new capital of the island. During the Hellenistic Era, Rhodes became a major naval power with influence over the southeastern Aegean as its ports connected Italy and Greece with Asia Minor, the Middle East, and Egypt.

Ancient Rhodes changed allegiance frequently throughout history. She took part in the naval battle of Salamis with the Persian fleet, but later joined the Delian League under Athenian hegemony. During the Peloponnesian War Rhodes sided with Sparta, and later helped Tyre when it was besieged by Alexander the Great. After a brief  subjection to Macedonian rule, Rhodes became an ally of Rome, helping her defeat the Macedonian king Philip V  at Cynoscephalae in 197 BCE.

Rhodes prospered as a Roman ally, but after the Roman Empire was divided, Rhodes became part of the Byzantine Empire and later came under the control of the Genoese in 1246. The Genoese in turn sold the island to the Knights of Saint John of Jerusalem (the original Hospitallers, later named Knights of Rhodes, and Knights of Malta) in 1306. They used the island as their base against Ottoman settlements in Asia Minor and fortified the island with impressive city walls and a powerful fleet.

Rhodes prospered for two hundred years under the Knights of Saint John, and successfully repelled several siege attempts by the Ottomans, until 1522 when a reported 100,000 Turks, under the leadership of Suleiman I, breached the walls of Rhodes after a six-month long siege. The Knights departed from the island, the Christian churches or Rhodes were converted to mosques, and the Greek inhabitants were forced to move outside the city walls as slaves of the Ottoman Empire.

The island of Rhodes remained under Ottoman control until 1912 when it fell to the Italians after a short siege. The Italians administered the island until 1943, and under the direction of the fascist regime in 1923 they embarked on a massive building project that was meant to transform the island to a holiday resort of Mussolini. British and Greek forces liberated the island in 1943, and Rhodes eventually joined Greece as part of the Dodecanese in March 7, 1948.

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