Celebrating Greek Independence Day

Today, March 25, marks an incredibly special day in Greece, as the country and Greeks worldwide celebrate Greek Independence Day. 

On March 25 every year in Greece and among the diaspora, Greek Independence Day is commemorated with parades, ceremonies and celebrations- marking the country’s Revolution of 1821, against Ottoman rule. 

Since 1838 when Otto was the King of Greece, March 25th commemorates the official start date of the Greek War of Independence against the Ottoman Empire. This national holiday is observed on this day throughout the entire country, and the festivities include a grand military parade, as well as organised student school parades.

History of Greek Independence Day

In 1821, Greece became the first country to officially separate from the traditional European monarchy. The Greek Revolution began with the fall of the Ottoman Empire as Greece came under its control. After years of revolts and two civil wars, France, the United Kingdom and Russia intervened and conquered the Ottoman Empire ultimately breaking free of their rule.

On March 25, 1821, the bishop Germanos of Patras raised the Greek flag at the Monastery of Agia Lavra in Peloponnese and one more revolution started against the Turks. The people of Greece shouted, “Eleftheria I Thanatos” (Freedom or Death) and they fought the War of Independence for 9 years (1821-1829) until a small part of modern Greece was finally liberated and it was declared an independent nation.

Festivities in Greece

March 25 is a double holiday, celebrating both a historic event and a religious one, as it’s also the Annunciation of the Virgin Mary, which is honoured with rich Greek traditions and culture, including festivals with folk music, dancing and national costumes paraded around the country. From main cities to remote villages, locals celebrate this day with food and wine, with the traditional dish of the day being Bakaliaros Skordalias (fried salty cod with potato and garlic mash), which is made and served at festivals, taverns and family gatherings. 

If you find yourself in the city centre of Athens today you will see streets adorned with Greek flags and many residents awaiting to watch the city’s grand military parade that takes place in the city’s central gathering point – Syntagma Square – and is attended by the President of Greece, important members of the Greek Orthodox Church, as well as other dignitaries.

Four French Rafale fighter jets from the French aircraft carrier “Charles de Gaulle” will join Greek planes and helicopters in the sky above Athens today, during the military parade and French armed forces will also participate in the holiday with the frigate “Alsace”, which will sail into Piraeus port, and a French Navy Guard of Honour without arms at Syntagma Square, which will be accompanied by a Greek military honour guard.

Happy Greek Independence Day, Xronia Polla! 

Featured Image by Dimitris Vlaikos 

Historical Sites on Dodecanese Islands to Receive 42 Million Euro Restorations 

Rhodes, Symi, Kos and Leros are some of the Dodecanese islands that are included in a new 42 million euro project for the protection and preservation of their archaeological sites and historical monuments that date back to Medieval, Byzantine, and Ottoman times.

The Greek Minister of Culture and Sports Lina Mendoni announced the new project, that will be financed by the Recover Fund, during a recent visit to Rhodes’ Medieval Town. 

“Care for our smaller islands is of utter importance. Apart from the 16,800,000 euros that we secured for the restoration and reopening of the National Theatre of Rhodes, there are now many other projects that we have secured for the Medieval City, which will be of huge benefit not only for Rhodes and the Dodecanese,” said Minister Mendoni.  

Insights Greece - Historical Sites on Dodecanese Islands to Receive 42 Million Euro Restorations 
Medieval Town of Rhodes

Works will be completed in Rhodes, Kos, Kalymnos, Leros, Symi, Halki and Agathonisi.

“The cultural project that’s being launched today on all our islands is unprecedented. In the first phase, works will be completed in Rhodes, Kos, Agathonisi, Leros, Kalymnos and all the other islands will follow after that with prioritisation and above all abundance of interest and care,” said Regional Governor of the South Aegean, George Chatzimarkos added. 

Projects include the creation of an integrated historic centre in the Medieval settlement of Rhodes, as well as the development of an open-air museum at the Medieval port, and the maintenance and restoration of the Rejep Pasha mosque. 

Kos will see a restoration of the Neratzia Castle and the early Christian baptistery of Agios Ioannis; as well as works on the Defterdar mosque and the Purification Fountain, plus reconstruction of an Italian arcade and the creation of an open-air sculpture gallery at Nerantzia Castle. 

In addition, Kalymnos’ Venetian windmills will be restored; Leros will see a former hotel in Lakki restored; Symi will have its bell tower at the church of Agios Ioannis Prodromos restored; whereas the Panagia Horiani Church and Archaeological Museum in Halki will have works done. Lastly, works will also take place at Agathonisi’s Thematic Archaeological Museum. 

Athens’ National Archaeological Museum Set to Expand

The National Archaeological Museum of Athens, the largest archaeological museum in Greece and one of the most important museums in the world- is set to welcome a huge upgrade that will include new spaces, exhibits, a garden and dining areas. 

The Greek Minister of Culture and Sports, Lina Mendoni, announced on Monday that the first stages towards the renovation of the National Archaeological Museum in Athens- devoted to ancient Greek art- have taken place, following the approval of the technical stages of the architectural requirements that will be drafted.

“The emblematic and visionary work of the rebirth of the National Archaeological Museum is now in progress. We want a Museum with a strong and clear identity at a national, European and international level. A Museum that promotes Greek culture and Greek identity in the new age,” said Minister Mendoni.  

The expansion of the museum will include an underground car park, a new garden, dining areas and an upgraded entrance. The renovation will also focus on adding natural light to the current exhibits and spaces, highlighting Greek civilization through exhibits spanning the centuries.

According to the announcement, the aim of the new plan is to not only highlight ancient Greek art but to also start showcasing contemporary pieces, as both the main and temporary exhibition spaces will increase substantially in size. 

“It will be a Museum that inspires contemporary artistic creation and that rejuvenates; defining the rebirth of the wider area of Athens,” added Mendoni.

Sparta’s Museum of Olive and Olive Oil

This beautifully designed museum located in Sparta invites visitors to discover the rich culture and history surrounding Greece’s famed olive and olive oil production – from prehistoric times to the early 20th century. 

Housed in a two-storey, industrial stone building the Museum of Olive and Olive Oil is a place where you will also learn about olive oil’s many uses as this area is one of the main olive-producing locations of Greece. 

Insights Greece - Sparta’s Museum of Olive and Olive Oil
Learn all about Greece’s famous olive

For each historical period, guests are able to learn about the contribution olives and olive oil have made to Greece’s economy and the way in which Greeks use it in their everyday life- from its health and beauty benefits to its influence on Greek mythology, religion, art, and technology.

On the lower floor, you will find post-byzantine technology of the olive mills and a section about domestic and industrial soap-making. In the open-air exhibition, visitors can get up close to the three different oil press machines, one prehistoric, one Hellenistic, and one from the Byzantine era.

The upper floor highlights the first testimonials of the olive as well as its contribution to Greece’s economy and shows written testimonies dating back to the 14th century, on Linear B inscribed tablets, while there are also exhibits of rare fossilized olive leaves approximately 50.000-60.000 years old, that were found in Santorini. 

Insights Greece - Sparta’s Museum of Olive and Olive Oil
View different oil press machines

Throughout the space, you will also see an impressive wooden double press with a winch from the neighbouring village of Xirokambi, and an olive press from the island of Lefkada, which documents the survival of animal power in the 20th century, as well as models representing the functioning of engine-powered olive presses. And at the end of the visit, you will be given details of archaeological sites to olive oil production in the Peloponnese if you wish to continue your journey of olive and olive oil discovery. 


Hours: 10  am to 6 pm (March 1st – October 15th)

10 am to 5 pm (October 16th – February 28th)

Admission Fee: 2€

Address: Othonos-Amalias 129, 23100 Sparta

New Underwater Museum in Piraeus Gets the Green Light

Athens will soon be welcoming visitors to a vast underwater museum with open shipwrecks and other submerged heritage sites following the Greek Council of Museum’s approval of the preliminary plans for the highly-anticipated Museum of Underwater Antiquities in Piraeus.

The landmark Silo building which was built around 1935 on the waterfront of the Piraeus Port, will be transformed into a museum showcasing Greece’s maritime history. It will allow visitors access to ancient marine monuments, which remain where they were found on the seabed.

Insights Greece - New Underwater Museum in Piraeus Gets the Green Light
New underwater museum of Piraeus

Piraeus is the largest port in Greece and one of the largest seaports in the Mediterranean Sea. According to the Ministry of Culture, “Piraeus Cultural Coast project aims to connect tourism with culture and the city with the port. The New Museum of Underwater Antiquities is linked to the sea, the journey, the discoveries, the research, and the adventure. The new museum will be accommodated in an area of diachronic habitation and will highlight the most important aspect of Greek cultural heritage; our marine tradition.”

The new museum will include shipwrecks, ship models, ancient cargo, and historical maps, as well as galleries, exhibitions, an amphitheatre, a library, as well as an emphasis on education programs and scientific projects, a conservation laboratory; plus a restaurant.

“The main purpose of the creation of the Museum of Underwater Antiquities is to highlight the relationship between Greek culture and its long history with the sea via well-preserved underwater finds. Visitors will be able to dive into the past and view submerged settlements,” announced Lina Mendoni, Minister of Culture and Sport.  

Images Courtesy of Greece’s Ministry of Culture and Sports 

Visiting Athens’ Grand Erechtheion Temple

An elegant temple constructed in the Ionic style, the Erechtheion lies on the northern side of the Acropolis. When visiting the Parthenon, we highly recommend you spend time viewing this stunning ancient building up close, as it’s one of the most striking historical buildings in all of Athens.

Insights Greece - Visiting Athens’ Grand Erechtheion Temple
Athens’ elegant temple

Dedicated to the Greek god Poseidon and the goddess Athena, the temple was built at the same time as the Parthenon and was designed by Classical Greek architect Mnesikles. It actually replaced the “Archaios Neos” (Ancient Temple) of Athena Polias, part of which had been destroyed by the Persians sixty years earlier.

The new temple was divided into two chambers: an eastern room dedicated to Athena and a lower western room that houses shrines of Poseidon-Erechtheus, Hephaistos, and Boutes, the brother of Erechtheus.

The Erechtheion’s unique form resulted from the architect’s need to accommodate all of these figures within one building, while also adapting its structure to the site’s uneven ground.

An Ionic frieze surrounded the Erechtheion’s main building and north porch, decorated with figures of gods, heroes and mortals. The figures were almost fully carved, and they were created from white Parian marble and attached with metal fasteners to slabs of grey Eleusinian limestone.

Notable features include the sacred olive tree to the south-west, the mark of Poseidon’s trident to the north marked by the saltwater well and this sacred site is also said to be the burial place of Kings Kekrops and Erechtheus.

Insights Greece - Visiting Athens’ Grand Erechtheion Temple
Set on the northern side of the Acropolis

The Erechtheion’s best-known feature by far is the south porch, whose roof, instead of being supported on columns, rested on the heads of six Korai statues – the famous Caryatids. Created by Alkamemes or Kallimachos, the statues were later named Caryatids after the young women from Karyes of Laconia who danced in honour of the goddess Artemis. Five of them are now found in the Acropolis Museum, displayed on a special balcony and visible from all sides, while the position of the sixth Kore, still held in the British Museum, has been left empty.

Tips and Information on Visiting the Erechtheion Temple

-If you really want to get to know all the history behind this sacred temple, we suggest a tour by a professional guide. In fact, a good tour will give you a nice overview of the entire Acropolis while also spending time on the history and architecture of the Erechtheion.

Insights Greece - Visiting Athens’ Grand Erechtheion Temple
See it up close when visiting the Parthenon

-The temple is open every day (excluding public holidays).

-The Acropolis Athens pass covers entry to The Erechtheion. This ticket is valid for 48 hours and covers entry to other archaeologically important sights as well.

-If you visit in summer, we recommend heading to the temple early morning or very late in the afternoon, this will ensure you avoid the heat and the crowds.

-Wear comfortable shoes with a good grip. The marble tends to be slippery.

– Make sure to visit the nearby Acropolis Museum to see the original Caryatids and a host of fascinating archaeological finds from the Acropolis site.

Parthenon Fragment Returned from Sicily, Now on Display at Acropolis Museum

A fragment from the Parthenon temple that was recently returned to Greece by the regional archaeological museum of Sicily, has now been placed on the Parthenon frieze at the Acropolis Museum in Athens, where it will remain on display as part of a long-term loan. 

The fragment depicts the right foot and part of the dress of the Greek goddess Artemis, which once sat on the eastern frieze of the 2,500-year-old Parthenon temple atop the Acropolis Hill.

The slab was unveiled in a ceremony at the Acropolis Museum yesterday, January 10, as the fragment was placed in the Parthenon Gallery – a glass-walled chamber with a view of the Parthenon- displaying sculptures of the temple’s 160-metre-long frieze in the same position as they were on the original monument (with plaster copies replacing pieces that are now mainly in the British Museum.)

Insights Greece - Parthenon Fragment Returned from Sicily, Now on Display at Acropolis Museum
The fragment from Palermo on its base, at the position where it’s placed at the east frieze at the Acropolis Museum. Images by Paris Tavitian © Acropolis Museum

Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, Culture Minister Lina Mendoni, the director of Acropolis Museum Nikos Stambolidis and the President of the Acropolis Museum Dimitris Pantermalis attended the ceremony, as Greek officials warmly welcomed the development, stressing that it shows the way for the return of the Parthenon Sculptures kept for two centuries at the British Museum.

Also at the ceremony was Assessor, Dr. Alberto Samonà, Cultural Heritage and Identity of Sicily, who said during the event, “We hope that after Sicily, other regions and countries also decide to take a step forward so that we can build together a new humanism.” 

It is unclear how Fagan came to own the fragment, which has been in Palermo, Sicily, since 1818 and was part of the archaeological collection of Robert Fagan, a British diplomat and art dealer who was appointed consul general for Sicily and Malta in the early 19th century. Following his death, his widow sold the piece to the University of Palermo’s Regio Museum, now the Salinas Museum. 

Director of A. Salinas Museum in Palermo, Dr. Caterina Greco added, “Today is a very important day, both for the culture and for me personally. The reconnection of the fragment with the other fragments on display in this majestic museum first seals, in the most representative degree, the feelings of brotherhood and cultural identity that have connected Sicily with Greece for centuries.”

The Italian museum has returned the fragment on loan to Greece for eight years with a view of permanent repatriation. It can be viewed by the public at the Acropolis Museum, which is one of the world’s most visited museums.  

Images by Paris Tavitian © Acropolis Museum

Tour Ancient Olympia From Anywhere in the World Via Digital Recreation

Viewers around the world can now see what Ancient Olympia, home of the first-ever Olympic Games looked like during its prime more than 2,500 years ago, thanks to an amazing new digital recreation.

The project, which was launched on Wednesday by Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, has virtually re-created Ancient Olympia and is named “Common Grounds.” The program allows users anywhere in the world the chance to explore Ancient Olympia, one of the world’s most important and famous sites, from their laptops, mobile app, or with Microsoft’s HoloLens headsets at the Athens Olympic Museum.

“Digitally preserving Ancient Olympia has created a time capsule of one of history’s most important periods—brought to life in a realistic, engaging way that was never before possible. This new form of digital archiving will continue to offer a portal to another era, helping us understand what humanity has achieved in the past, and reminding us what we’re capable of today,” announced Microsoft. 

A team including the Greek government and Microsoft used thousands of images, as well as archaeological research, to reconstruct Ancient Olympia.

“With the digital representation of the Panhellenic sanctuary of Ancient Olympia, its cultural heritage becomes accessible to the whole world,” said Hellenic Republic Minister of Culture and Sports, Lina Medoni.

The state-of-the-art reconstruction, she added, also helps to highlight the values of ‘Olympism’, peace, harmony, excellence, and noble rivalry.

The website and the mobile app enable anyone to take a virtual guided tour remotely or in-person at Olympia; exploring a virtual recreation of 27 sites including the ancient Olympic Stadium, a gymnasium where athletes trained, and temples devoted to the Greek gods Hera and Zeus. At the Olympic Museum in Athens, visitors can use Microsoft’s mixed-reality HoloLens headsets that overlay visual information on top of what the viewer sees.

According to Microsoft, the models of the classic buildings were constructed using hundreds of thousands of images taken with cameras and drones and put together using AI technology. The models were then enhanced using information from archaeological research to help viewers understand what the sites would have looked like 2500 years back.

“What ancient Greece created is what humanity around the world still needs, maybe, even more, today than 25 centuries ago,” says Microsoft President Brad Smith.

Virtually Explore Ancient Olympia here

Celebrating OXI Day, October 28

Oxi Day commemorated on the 28th of October each year, is one of the proudest National Holidays of Greece, highlighting the important role the country played in WWII. 

On this day in 1940, Greece’s Prime Minister Ioannis Metaxas denied Benito Mussolini’s request to allow Italian troops to cross the border into Greece. He responded to the Italian ultimatum in French, “Alors, c’est la gueree!” meaning “Then it is War!”

In the days following, the word of Metaxas’ denial had spread around Greece’s capital and the Greek population took to the streets shouting “Oxi!”. The decision made by Metaxas on the 28th of October 1940, is commemorated each year as a day that represents heroism, bravery, and solidarity for millions of Greeks all around the world.

Insights Greece - Celebrating OXI Day, October 28
PM Metaxas was praised by the people of Greece

What Happened On This Day In History

The “No” of Metaxas expressed the feelings of all Greeks, echoed in the streets and throughout the land – as they yelled “No” to fascism, “No” to occupation. The Greek troops, skilled in fighting in this rough and mountainous territory, succeeded in pushing them back. 

Many historians worldwide believe that Greece’s bravery may have changed the course of the war. It was ultimately necessary for the Germans to occupy Greece, which diverted their resources, and delayed their invasion of Russia, which led to their eventual defeat.

Greece’s bravery was recognised by allies and enemies alike.

People like the American president Franklin D. Roosevelt, the British statesman Winston Churchill, Joseph Stalin, and Charles de Gaul praised the Greek army as well.

“Hence we will not say that Greeks fight like heroes, but that heroes fight like Greeks” – Winston Churchill

Insights Greece - Celebrating OXI Day, October 28
Students parading in the streets

Traditions for OXI Day In Greece

On this day in Greece, most public buildings, homes and streets are adorned with Greek flags on balconies, doors and windows. You will see parades and other festivities taking place throughout the country. It is a national holiday, which means that everything is closed, with the exception of cafes and restaurants.

The October 28th holiday is also celebrated by Greeks around the world; parades and festivities take place internationally including major cities in the USA, Canada, UK, and Australia.

How do Greeks celebrate their national anniversary?

In schools, pupils recite poems, sing songs or play scenes from the Greek-Italian war wearing costumes of the time. The school teachers usually talk about Greeks’ heroism at the war.

On the anniversary day, schoolchildren parade on the main street of their city, island, or village, as they march synchronously along with military music. Pupils’ parents and many people watch the parade, waving small flags and applauding. The best student of each school holds the Greek flag in the parade and is called simeofóros ‘the flag-bearer’.

There are also cultural groups, with each region of Greece wearing its own traditional costumes, and performing their music and dances. 

Insights Greece - Celebrating OXI Day, October 28
The Greek flag raised high

Then the armed services of Greece parade. The military cadets in dress uniform march, and also all of the special units. In Thessaloniki, boats from the navy come to the harbour. The tanks of the army fill the surrounding streets and join the military parade. Skilled air force pilots fly in precise formations overhead, and military helicopters also. 

This is also the time that Greeks honour the bravery of all the emergency services and rescue teams, the mountain rescue, firefighters, coast guard, first responders, and others that dedicate their lives to the safety and protection of others.

Before the parade, they lay a wreath of laurel onto the monument or square of the municipality or village they live in.

After the parades, families, and friends get together and many times eat out in a tavern. This is a time for a big lunch or a festive afternoon with friends in a traditional taverna. 

Where are the biggest parades?

Insights Greece - Celebrating OXI Day, October 28
Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, Syntagma Square

The biggest celebration in Greece happens in Thessaloniki, with a student and military parade and many officials attending. In Athens and all other cities of Greece, there are student parades and an all-over festive feel.

Free admission to Archaeological sites and Public Museums

On Oxi Day, admission to archaeological sites and public museums around Greece is free.

This includes the Acropolis, Ancient Agora, Ancient Delphi, Ancient Mycenae, and Ancient Epidaurus.

In addition, you can visit the Acropolis Museum, National Archaeological Museum, or the Byzantine Museum free of charge. 

Run Messinia, Honouring 200 Years of 1821 Greek Revolution

Greece’s historic event Run Messinia- an ultra marathon race- begins today October 2nd, in Messinia, in the Peloponnese, honouring the bicentennial of the 1821 Greek Revolution.

Messinia is a special place for the Greek Revolution of 1821, as it’s home to historical battles, great heroes and fighters. It is a region where some of the most important battles were held, such as the battle of Sphacteria, in Niokastro, the battle of Maniaki, which cost the life of Greek hero Papaflessas; and also the naval battle of Navarino, which essentially sealed the end of the Revolution and marked the liberation of Greece, resulting in the establishment of the modern Greek state.

Insights Greece - Run Messinia, Honouring 200 Years of 1821 Greek Revolution
Messinia, home to many Greek war heroes

This special event held between October 2-11, 2021, will take place in eight Municipalities of Messinia, Laconia and Arcadia and will include a total of 10 marathons, within 10 consecutive days.

The event will showcase all the areas associated with the Greek Revolution in Messinia both culturally and touristically. From Areopoli of Laconia to historical places such as among others Stoupa, Kardamyli, Verga, Kalamata, Nedousa, Alagonia, Dyrachio, Neochori, Poliani, Skala, Paloukorahi, Katsarou, Solaki, and other historic sites, to the end of the races at historic Pylos.

Run for Freedom will start on Saturday, October 2nd, from Areopoli of the East Mani Municipality, pass through Stoupa of the West Mani Municipality and end in Kardamyli. 

On Sunday, October 3rd, starting from Kardamyli, will pass through Verga of the Kalamata Municipality and end in the city of Kalamata. 

On Monday, October 4th, the athletes starting from Kalamata will cross Nedousa and finish in Alagonia. 

On Tuesday, October 5th, the runners starting from Alagonia will pass through Dyrachio and Neochori of the Megalopoli Municipality and complete their effort in Poliani of the Kalamata Municipality. 

From Poliani, on Wednesday, October 6th, participants will cross Skala and end up in Paloukorahi of the Oichalia Municipality. 

On Thursday, October 7th, the route will highlight historical places of the Oichalia Municipality, as the athletes starting from Paloukorahi will cross Katsarou, Solaki, Meropi, Loutro, Diavolitsi, Ano Psari, Dorio and end up at the statue of Kolokotronis in Ramovouni. 

On Friday, October 8th, starting from Ramovouni, the runners will pass through Zerbisia of the Messini Municipality, Kalogeresi, Saint Nikitas Sellas and Tripyla of the Trifylia Municipality, in order to reach Maniaki of the Pylos-Nestor Municipality. 

On Saturday, October 9th, the participants will start from Maniaki, pass through Agios Andreas of the Messini Municipality and Kato Minagia and finish in Koroni. 

On Sunday, October 10th, the route will move exclusively within the Pylos-Nestor Municipality from Koroni to Methoni and then to Pylos. 

The 10th and final route of Run for Freedom to be held on Monday, October 11th, starting from Pylos, will provide runners with the opportunity of passing through Niokastro, observing Sphacteria and Paleokastro, while crossing Kremmidia and Schinolakka.

According to the event organisers, “Run Messinia will leave a legacy for the future of the place, as it highlights and promotes through its social media, the historical places, the battles and all the monuments, through which runners will pass.” 

For more details head to runmessinia

Free Entry to Greece’s Museums and Archaeological Sites this Weekend

Entrance to state-run archeological sites, museums, and monuments will be free of charge this weekend September 25-26, to help celebrate European Heritage Days 2021. 

This year’s shared theme of festivities across Europe is “Heritage: All-Inclusive.” And in Greece, there will also be special events highlighting “Train Journey” which is part of the framework of the 2021 European Railway Year, as well as a special focus on Ioannis Kapodistrias- honouring Greece’s first governor after independence from the Ottomans, which is part of a series of events commemorating the bicentennial of the 1821 Greek War of Independence.

Some of the events will be broadcast live this weekend via the social media pages of European Heritage Days Greece on both their Facebook and Instagram.

The European Heritage Days are co-organised by the European Union and the Council of Europe, which launched the action in 1985. It is among the most widely celebrated participatory cultural events in Europe.

During the European Heritage Days each September, thousands of monuments and sites open their doors, some of them normally closed to the public for the rest of the year. This allows people to enjoy free visits, learn about their shared cultural heritage, and become part of safeguarding Europe’s heritage for present and future generations.

Visiting the Medieval Old Town of Rhodes

The Medieval City of Rhodes was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1988. It is one of the best-preserved and largest inhabited medieval towns in Europe. When you approach the walls of Medieval Old Town of Rhodes keep in mind you are about to enter the oldest inhabited medieval city in Europe.

Today roughly 6,000 people live within the walls, and driving through the old town is restricted to residents only. Boasting incredible Gothic architecture and historical importance, walking around the Medieval City is a must when visiting Rhodes island! 

History of the Medieval Old Town of Rhodes

Insights Greece - Visiting the Medieval Old Town of Rhodes
Walking through the Old Town

The medieval city is located within a 4 km-long wall and is divided with the high town to the north and the lower town to the south. Originally separated from the lower town by a fortified wall, the high town was entirely built by the Knights. The Order was organised into seven “tongues”, each having its own seat, or “inn”. The inns of the tongues of Italy, France, Spain and Provence lined the main east-west axis, the famous Street of the Knights. To the north, close to the site of the Knights’ first hospice, stands the Inn of Auvergne. The original hospice was replaced in the 15th century by the Great Hospital, which was built between 1440 and 1489. 

The town has never been abandoned and when exploring the medieval streets of Rhodes, it seems time has stopped in the middle ages; the magical atmosphere is highlighted by its knightly past.

Strolling the streets of Old Town Rhodes

Boasting cobbled streets and Gothic towers, this wonderful UNESCO World Heritage site is filled with mosaic-covered alleyways, and historical streets that are home to the Palace of the Grand Master with its towered, majestic entrance and large courtyard; Ottoman buildings such as the Suleymanie Mosque and Byzantine temples, medieval buildings,  traditional fountains, Byzantine and Gothic churches, shops, taverns, cafes and bars that are all scattered throughout the Old Town, all blending together to create a unique and picturesque whole.

There are roughly 200 streets or alleys – some of them have no name and getting “lost” here is part of the excitement as every little corner has a piece of rich history to be told.  And remember the name “Sokratous Street” as a point of reference, as this is the closest the Medieval City comes to having a main street.

What to see in the Old Town of Rhodes

Insights Greece - Visiting the Medieval Old Town of Rhodes
Age of Chivalry

With gates all around the Old Town, you can start your tour from wherever you wish and while wandering around, we recommend you check out the following…

-The Palace of the Grand Master, which has an imposing entrance and well-preserved towers and battlements. The interiors of the buildings, decorated with ancient ornamental objects and artifacts are also a must-see.

-After entering through the Liberty Gate, make your way through to Symi Square and Argyrokastrou Square next to it. Here you will discover the ruins of a Temple of Aphrodite. 

-The Street of the Knights; here you will discover more about the Order of Knights and the seven different buildings that were built for each of the tongues, or countries the Knights of Saint John were made up of. 

-Knights Street leads to the Palace of the Grand Master that has different exhibits as you walk around the halls of this historic castle. 

-Make sure you visit the clocktower (dates back to 1852 and is the highest point in Rhodes Old Town), the synagogue and the mosques of the Suleyman and Recep Pasha.

-It is also worth visiting the churches of Panagia tou Kastrou and the Panagia tou Bourgou.

-Visit the Museum Square where you’ll find the Archaeological Museum located in the former hospital building of the Knights of St. John, here you’ll find artifacts, sculptures, and other items that date back to over 2,000 years ago. Also worth visiting is the Museum of Modern Greek Art, Decorative Arts Collection Museum, Museum of Our Lady of the Castle Museum, the Byzantine Museum and the Jewish Museum of Rhodes. 

-While here, we suggest brunch or lunch at the lovely courtyard of the Cafe Auvergne, which is just a step away from Knights Street; or head to Marco Polo Mansion for an unforgettable dinner.

Insights Greece - Visiting the Medieval Old Town of Rhodes
Cafe Auvergne

-Have a drink at the Cellar of the Knights- located in Hippocrates Square, it’s one of the most unique places to have a drink. Hippocrates’ Square or Platia Ippokratous is a charming town square in the heart of the UNESCO Old Town with a majestic staircase, a wonderful fountain, and a range of cafes and shops filled with locally made sandals, jewellery and other products. The square can be reached by coming into the Old Town through the Marine Gate.

Once you’ve walked through the inner streets of the Old Town, make sure you make the most of the views from the historic part of town from up high- you’ll be able to take some spectacular photos from above. 

Getting there

From Rhodes Airport it’s around a 35-minute drive, you can catch a taxi or a bus from the airport to the Old Town.