The strategic location of the island, among the seas of the Mediterranean, Aegean, Middle East and Egypt formed the economic and cultural history of the island and has always attracted attention of people. This led to accept many influences in its long history. All the people who came here, either peacefully or as invaders left their mark on all sides of the island's culture.
Due to the excavations and archaeological surveys we know that the island was inhabited since the Neolithic Age. The first inhabitants were the Karres, who came from Asia Minor. They were followed by the Phoenicians and the Minoans of Crete, who settled in the area of Ialyssos near 1500 BC and lead the island into a major economic and cultural prosperity.
In 1,100 BC Dorian Greeks dominated the island and founded the three cities Lindos, Ialyssos and Kamiros. The cities follow the fate of the Dorian cities of southwestern Asia Minor and in alliance with them reach high levels of development, which brings wealth and prosperity to the people of the island.
During the Macedonian and Hellenistic times the island is tied to the influence of the Macedonians and later the Ptolemies of Egypt. In 305 BC The Rhodians faced Demetrius Poliorcetes. In commemoration of this glorious victory they raise the most famous statue of antiquity, the famous Colossus of Rhodes, so named because of its size. It was one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. The construction of the Colossus took 12 years and was completed in 282 BC The statue was placed, probably at the entrance of the harbor and personified the Sun god until a strong earthquake hit Rhodes about 226 BC The city was badly damaged, and the Colossus collapsed.
Around the end of the 3rd century BC, Rome begins to dominate the Mediterranean, as the new power of the times. During the expansion and domination of Rome, Rhodes was an ally of the Romans during the Second Macedonian War. This resulted to experience major disasters during the civil war between the Roman generals.
However, until the 1st century AD, Rhodes preserved much of its splendor and became one of the most important centers of knowledge, science and art.
Rhodes was one of the first Greek islands that embraced Christianity. In 57 AD The Apostle Paul stayed in Rhodes and taught residents the new religion. Though less significant and prosperous than before, the city had a Bishop chair together with a significant number of churches, among them some basilicas of impressive dimensions. It was also an important military base.
In 395 AD, Rhodes is the province of the Byzantine Empire and the city of Rhodes was defined as the island's capital. In 620 AD the island goes under the Persian domination. In 1204 AD , Rhodes, like many other Greek islands, ceded to the Venetians. In 1261 AD the island passed to the Genoese domination admirals.
In 1309 the island was sold to the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem. Under the rule of the Knights, Rhodes comes again to glory and prosperity and becomes a large military, commercial, financial and cultural center of the Eastern Mediterranean.
The Order was established in the 12th century in Jerusalem for the purpose of nursing pilgrims and crusaders, but soon evolved into a combat unit and acquired vast tracts of land. The battalion established its Headquarters on Rhodes acquired leading role during that time in the Eastern Mediterranean. As a result, Rhodes was formed into a strong commercial center and became a great military power.
During this period, the fortifications were expanded and modernized. The result of this glorious season is the Medieval City of Rhodes which we we all admire today. A hospital, a palace and several churches were some of the many public buildings built during this period. These buildings are interesting examples of Gothic and Renaissance architecture.
In 1522, after six months of siege, Rhodes fell to the Turks and the rule of Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent. For about four centuries, the Ottomans occupied Rhodes.
During this period, new buildings were built as mosques, public baths and new homes. The Greeks were forced to abandon their fortified city. The Ottoman Turks tried to reshape and simulate buildings to conform to the Ottoman way of life. They repaired the walls that were damaged, converted most of the churches into mosques and transformed the major houses into private or public buildings.
In the 19th century the Ottoman Empire declined, leading to the neglecting of the city and its buildings, which even further deteriorated due to the strong earthquakes.
In 1912, Rhodes went under the Italian domination. In the beginning people were welcomed them as liberators, but quickly realized that it was all for a new hard oppressor.
The Italians demolished the houses that were built by the Ottomans and generally removed all the Ottoman additions. At the same time, undertook extensive infrastructure (roads, electricity, port, etc.) and radically transformed the city of Rhodes, which had a new urban plan, building regulations and many new public and private buildings.
In March 1948 with the signing of the Treaty of Paris, Rhodes and other Dodecanese islands were incorporated with Greece.
In 1957, approved by decree a new urban plan for the Old Town, which was recognized in 1960 by the Ministry of Culture as a "protected monument". In 1961 and 1963 two new decrees were issued, which provided for opening new roads and widening of existing ones. In 1988, the old town of Rhodes has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage City.
Today, Rhodes, taking advantage of its unique beauty and great cultural treasures, has evolved into a world-renowned tourist resort. The tourism combined with cultural development has for sure restored the prosperity to the island.