Knights' Era Rhodes Island
After the establishment here of the Knights of St John in 1309, the city of Rhodes became the centre of the Order. Its port underwent considerable development. Pilgrims to the Holy Land used it as a staging-post in their way to Jerusalem. New building were put up and the fortifications were strengthened and improved, and the city thus took on a medieval character.
It was divided by an inner wall into two unequal parts, the Collachium, the smaller part, and the Chora or Burgo. The Collachium centred on the Street of the Knights and contained the Palace of the Grand Masters, the Administrative centre, the Catholic Cathedral, the infirmary, the “inns” of the various “Tongues”, the residences of the Knights. The dockyard and the arsenal. The Chora or Burgo was to the south of the Collachium. Within ita walls were the residences of the various peoples who lived in the city, including the Greeks and the Jews, the market, Orthodox and Catholic churches, the synagogue, public building, and the barracks.
The architectural style followed during the time of the Knights can be divided into two phases. In the first (1309-1480), the Gothic style, with some variations, was adopted. The craftsmen employed were local, with the result that their work shows certain Byzantine features.
In the second phase (1480-1522), which began with the first siege of the city by the Turks (1480) and the catastrophic earthquake of 1481, the Late Gothic style, influenced by Italian Renaissance art, was followed. During this period, the damage caused by the earthquake and the siege to the public buildings and fortifications was repaired. Of all the Grand Masters, D’ Aubusson was the one who concerned himself most with the strengthening of the fortifications.
The walls which surrounded the city had a perimeter of 4 kms and were ringed by a moat, which at many points was double. The fortifications included the wall on land, the harbor wall and the walls of the harbor moles. Each “Tongue” was assigned a specific section of the walls to defend in the event of an enemy attack. The castle had a total of seven gates: St Paul’s Gate at its northern end led to the Naillac tower at the end of the northern mole of the harbor; the D’Amboise Gate was built in 1512; the Gate of St Athanasius was on the southwestern side of the city; the Koskinou Gate, also known as the Gate of St John; the Gate of St Catherine or “of the Mills” owed its second name to the 13 mills which stood on the mole (today only three remain); the sea Gate in the middle of the commercial harbor, and, further north, the Harbor Gate.
From time to time, the fortifications were strengthened by the construction of towers, such as those of Spain, of Our Lady, of St Paul (at the end of the northern mole) and of St Nicholas (at the end of the southern mole).