Rhodes Architecture

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Types of houses. Houses on Rhodes have their shape, function, construction method, interior layout and decoration to show as particular characteristics, formed by a variety of external and internal factors. External factors may be considered the influences from Franks, Ottomans and Arabs merged with local traditions into a variety of shapes, while internal factors may include the evolution of social structure as well as the inhabitants’ decent. As far as traditional architecture is concerned, the building materials that were used came from the immediate surroundings. The interior decoration of Rhodian houses is rich, indicating financial prosperity, and consists of embroideries, woven cloths, plates and pitchers on shelves along the walls. On many occasions the plates occupy the entire surface of the long wall, which is thus called “piatelotichos” (plate wall).

Rural or folk single-room house. It consists of a single room with an entrance on one of the two long sides. It can be found in almost all the villages on Rhodes. The spread of this type of houses throughout the Dodecanese has its roots in the period of the Hospitallers and the system of family and inheritance rights, according to which the first born daughter inherited her mother’s property. This fact resulted in the fragmentation of the building into small, single-room houses where the family performed all its activities.

The semi-urban house. It appears early on in areas where the population’s economic prosperity came from the cultivation of large expanses of land and the involvement in shipping and trade. It is usually a variation of the traditional rural house with strong influences from foreign elements and an opulent decoration both inside and outside.

The Turkish house. After the Ottomans conquered Rhodes, the picture of the city changed to a certain degree. Public buildings and houses in Kollakio were turned into ottoman dwellings and Bourgo was divided into two sections/neighborhoods, one for the Ottomans near Kollakio and one for the Jews on the other side. New elements were added to the existing buildings, like balconies, terraces, etc. while at the same time new, purely eastern-type buildings were also constructed.

Marasia. These are peculiar, oblong houses found in Marasia and showing signs of Ottoman influences.

Towers. Apart from the public buildings that survive in the old town of Rhodes since the era of the Ioannites’ rule, there is a number of medieval buildings throughout the countryside. These are two-storey rectangular buildings of an older fortified style which was gradually developed and influenced by the folk and, later, the neoclassical architecture.

The settlements of Rhodes. The main settlements on the island expand a few kilometers outside the city of Rhodes, roughly along the axes that connected the three ancient cities of Lindos, Ialyssos and Kamiros. With the exception of Rhodes city and Lindos, which have a continuous historical presence as seaside settlements and were always fortified, all other settlements are located on the mainland and were always agricultural. The existence of some settlements located near the sea begins in the early Christian era. From the 7th to the 9th century they suffered destructions by pirate raids and their inhabitants either resorted to existing land-locked settlements or built new ones, away from the sea, many of which were fortified. On Rhodes a direct relationship between the shift in economy and the course its settlements followed while changing geographical positions can be observed. Thus, the growth of tourism, particularly in the postwar years, and the resulting economic growth of settlements neighboring the city of Rhodes led to the gradual abandonment of the hinterland and the expansion of settlements located near the major urban center.

The settlements of Rhodes, from antiquity to this day, can be divided into three categories, according to their form, organization and location:

– Settlements until the 7th century were of naval and agricultural nature, with a closed economic structure and a standard urban planning (Vroulia, Kamiros and the ancient city of Rhodes).

– The settlements founded between 7th and 16th century, when pirate raids and wars forced settlements either to be fortified (the medieval city of Rhodes) or to be near a fort (Lindos, Asklipios, etc.), were of central, multi-central or linear urban planning and formulation. The largest of these settlements had narrow labyrinthine roads and their form was purely medieval. Many of them survive to this day. A few settlements founded after the Ottoman domination, when there was no longer need for fortification, were of multi-central, central or linear formation (Embonas, Massari, Kalavarda, Hagios Isidoros, etc.).

Traditional settlements on the island: Hagios Isidoros, Arnitha, Archaggelos, Asklipieio, Afandou, Vati, Gennadi, Eleousa, Kattavia, Kiotari, Koskinou, Lindos, Messanagros, Monolithos, city of Rhodes, Profilia, Siana, Psinthos.

Lindos. The oldest houses in the village of Lindos were built between the 17th and 19th century. Those standing out are the so-called “captain’s houses”, which originally had one main room with an interior arched subdivision, where all functions of everyday life were attended. These houses later acquired on the upper floor the “captain’s room”. They are surrounded by high walls, they have arched entrances made of tufa (pyliones), decorated with coats of arms and carved designs, and they also have heavy wooden doors. The courtyards are filled with flowers and their floor is paved with “chochlakia”, mosaics of black and white pebbles. The mosaic designs show how many ships the owner of the house had in his possession.

The Italian architecture on Rhodes. The Italian rule left a strong mark on Rhodes, as well as on the rest of the Dodecanese, with a number of public buildings that were constructed on the island and the city-planning scheme that was implemented in 1935. The Italians showed particular interest in the capital of the Dodecanese, ensuring that large roads and avenues were created, imposing buildings were constructed and that the strict regulations for the uniform construction of private houses outside the walls of the medieval city, which they kept intact, were respected. Examples of the Italian architecture on Rhodes are the Foro Italico, the wide coastal avenue in Mandraki and buildings like the Government House, the Casa del Fascio, the Albergo delle Rose (Hotel of the Roses), the customs office, the port authority office, the del Fiore library, the Casa Balilla, the churches of Saint John and Saint Francis, etc. A variety of styles has been used in the construction of these buildings, such as eclecticism combined with renaissance elements and baroque themes (Government House), the mixture of «oriental» and «arabesque» elements (Fish market), the combination of the two abovementioned styles (High school for girls) and the “fascist style” (Courthouse).

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