Rhodes is the principal city and a former municipality on the island of Rhodes an island in the Dodecanese, Greece. Since the 2011 local government reform it is part of the municipality Rhodes, of which it is the seat and a municipal unit. It has a population of approximately 80,000. Rhodes has been famous since antiquity as the site of Colossus of Rhodes, one of the Seven Wonders of the World. The Colossus has been used in many poems, the most famous being Shakespeare's "Julius Caesar". The citadel of Rhodes, built by the Hospitalliers, is one of the best preserved medieval towns in Europe which in 1988 was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The City of Rhodes is a popular international tourist destination.
The city of Rhodes is situated in the north-east tip of the island and forms a triangle from north to south. It is the smallest municipality of the island in terms of land area and the largest in population. It borders the Aegean Sea to the north, the east and the west and with the municipalities of Ialysos and Kallithea in the south.
The island of Rhodes is at a crossroads between Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. This has given the city and the island many different identities, cultures, architectures, and languages over its long history. Its position in major sea routes has given Rhodes a very rich history. The island has been inhabited since about 4000 BC (Neolithic Period). The city of Rhodes was formed by the cities of Ialyssos, Kamiros and Lindos in 408 BC, and prospered for three centuries during its Golden Age, when sea trade, skilled shipbuilders, and open-minded politicians of the city kept it prosperous until Roman times.
The Colossus of Rhodes, one of the original Seven Wonders of the Ancient World was built by the Lindian sculptor Chares between 304 and 293 BC, which took 12 years and was completed in 282 BC. The statue represented their sun god Helios, which stood at the harbour entrance. The ancient city had a well-constructed sewage system as well as a water supply network as designed by Hippodamus. A strong earthquake hit Rhodes about 226 BC, badly damaging the city and toppling the Colossus. For the next eight centuries it lay in ruins until it was sold to a Jewish merchant, reputed to require 900 camels to haul it away.
Both city and island population continue to grow contrary to national levels; the city has an official population of 54,000, but the actual population is estimated between 115,000 and 120,000. This is caused by many permanent residents of the city registering in their place of birth during the census. Thus the city's total population, as counted by the census, is less than the number of people actually residing in the city. Currently it is estimated that 120,000 people reside permanently in the city although last census showed only 54,000.
The city's public transit system consists of a bus network which also connects the city to outlying resort areas during tourism season. Ferries connect the island's commercial passenger port with several nearby islands within the Dodecanese Islands, as well as with the Cycladic Islands, the Greek mainland, and Bodrum in Turkey. The city is also a popular port of call for cruise itineraries, especially in the summer months. Both the city and the island of Rhodes are served by Diagoras International Airport, situated 14 km south west of the city. It is connected to all other major Greek airports and to Cyprus throughout the year. During tourism season, international flights connect the island with several European cities and with Israel.
The city is home to numerous landmarks. Some of them date back to antiquity and most of the others remain from the Knights' Period.
- Grand Master's Palace (15th century)
- Knights Street
- Acropolis of Rhodes
- Mosque of Suleiman the Magnificent
- Medieval walls, created in the mid-14th century on a previous line and remade after the Ottoman siege of 1480 and the earthquake of the following year. In 1522 Suleiman entered the city from the gate of St. Anastasius
- Gothic buildings in the historical upper town.
- Recently, the Byzantine harbor was excavated, discovering unique medieval shipwrecks.