The Road Of The Knights

Tracing medieval footsteps down the the ‘Odos Ippoton’ on our way to dinner, it was easy to imagine whispers in the dark. The swishing of silk trains, the clang of armour, the neighing of horses, the clink of sword and spear.

Less eerie in the glare of daylight, but just as atmospheric, the ‘Road of the Knights‘ is a 200 meter remnant of the original cobbled road that once stretched from Rhodes harbour to the acropolis.

The Road of the Knights – The arched bridge in the photo connects the Inn of Spain with the Inn of Provence.

Lined on either side by the Inns of the Tongues (subgroupings by nationality), from the Grand Masters Palace to the Knights hospital, this is considered one of the best preserved medieval streets in Europe. Built between the 13th and 15th  centuries, the inns are mainly identifiable by the coats of arms inscribed on stone above their portals, many of which have been carted off to museums in Istanbul and elsewhere.

The entrance to the former Inn of Provence with the coat of arms of the Royal House of France, the Order of the Knights of St John, the Grand Master F. del Carretto and Grand master F. de Flota.

Founded in the 11th century by Gerard Thom also known as “Blessed Thom” to provide care to sick and injured pilgrims to the holy lands, the Knights Hospitallers of St. John evolved into a religious and military order that was evicted from the very land they were meant to defend after the Islamic invasion.

Grand Master’s Palace

The Knights (not to be confused with the Knights Templar) retreated to Rhodes in 1309 (captured in turn from the Genoese) and their heroic defense of this last bastion of Christianity in the increasingly Islamic region is the stuff of legends. After the final siege* led by the Ottoman Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent in 1522, the Knights were forced to surrender and were offered safe passage to western Europe along with the surviving christian residents. 

They drifted around Europe for a while before settling in Malta and came to be known as the Knights of Malta. The French invasion of Malta dispersed them yet again until the early 19th century, when rechristened as the Sovereign Military Order Of Malta, they set up base in Rome and dedicated themselves to humanitarian causes, that continues to this date, with associations in over 120 countries. The English tongue evolved into the St John Ambulance Brigade in 1887.

  • The human cost of the siege – 2000 (out of a population of 7000) Christians and 50000 Ottomans!.

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Madhu is an Interior designer turned travel blogger on a long sabbatical to explore the world. When not crafting stories on The Urge To Wander, she's probably Tweeting @theurgetowander or sharing special moments on instagram.com/theurgetowander

76 thoughts on “The Road Of The Knights

    1. The palace was heavily restored by the Italians in the early 19th century Debra, although they adhered to the original style and discarded all the Ottoman additions.

  1. After reading this post my mind was transported to Coventry in England where I could feel the medieval atmosphere when I walked through the ancient roads. By the way, the fact that Sovereign Military Order of Malta is a nation to some extent is really interesting.

    1. Thanks Kalpana! Your photos are gorgeous, especially the night shots! Thanks for leading me to your lovely blog 🙂

      1. Thank you … Glad you like my posts. I stayed nearly 2 weeks on the island which gave me some time to explore. I came three times and was enjoyable the place is indeed submerged with history A fascinating island …. As you are a globetrotter like me I will follow your blog for more exciting posts … have a nice day 🙂

  2. Beautiful pictures and a fascinating history lesson shared in a style that is fabulous, as always ;o)

  3. Thanks for visiting my sight so I could find you. I’m so glad I did because your pictures are amazing and you tell a wonderful story. You grabbed me into your story so well that I felt I had been transformed into the 13th century. Great work.
    Pat

  4. I learn so much fascinating history from your posts, Madhu. The Grand Master’s Place is such awesome building. I love those turrets on top of the pillars. I belonged to the St John’s Ambulance Brigade when I was a teenager in England, but never knew how it was founded.

  5. I hate you, Madhu! You traveled so much, I envy you. 😀 love the first lines as well. Exactly what I try to convey in my head whenever I tour historical places, to imagine and feel like how it was then.

  6. Wow! What a story behind that…sad that he was evicted despite being a caregiver! Europe is just so beautiful, even labyrinthine streets can appear beautiful.

    1. They (not he) prayed to the wrong God 🙂 I agree, the pleasure of getting lost in beautiful European streets is something else.

    1. Your challenge was inspiring Jake and your animations of course! Not sure if i can participate this week though! Way too much catching up to do 😉

  7. This post is great, of course! I worried last week. Hope everything went okay. I had no idea if you were in the north. I am not getting you in reader or email. Am going to unfollow and then follow again to see if you show up. 🙂

    1. And I, some of those in your neighbourhood! Thanks Kate. Have been missing your posts. shall be over when I find some time to read at leisure.

  8. What a fascinating history! And an amazing trip! I’ve missed checking in on your blog somehow. Glad to get back to it. Always such amazing pictures and interesting history!

  9. Fascinating and excellent entry for Roads, Madhu. I have read several books about the Knights Templar and Knights Hospitallers of St. John and the Crusades – this post provides a rich background to all that.

  10. Clever interpretation, Madhu. I really enjoyed Rhodes but our son was tiny at the time so we didn’t have much chance to focus on the history.

    1. Thank you Fergie! And if you are wondering why the overwhelming gratitude, I am playing belated catch up with my old posts 🙂

  11. Such an exciting post. I am a fan of knights and anything medieval. I’ve been wathing the series Merlin lately and it’s really cool. Thanks.Beautiful post. Have a great weekend my friend.

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