The Long and Winding Rhodes

Rhodes-openingAndrea here, looking out on another very grey, gloomy and cold day here where I live. January has been a dreary month, so it’s no wonder that I’m in the mood to plot more foreign adventures to sunny climes, especially as this past November I took my first trip abroad since before the pandemic.
 
For me, travel—even if it's done in an armchair—always brightens the spirits. It sparks a sense of wonder as I explore new sights, sounds and tastes. And of course, it  lights a fire to the imagination if I get to visit place that I want to feature in my books. The November trip—an amazing cruise from Istanbul to Athens—was extra special because it did include a fascinating place that I have in mind for upcoming stories . . .


Colosse_de_Rhodes_(Barclay)Rhodes, an island (now part of Greece) situated eleven miles off the coast of Turkey, has a wonderfully rich and fascinating history that dates back to Neolithic times. Minoans, Dorians, Persians—Rhodes was occupied by a number of invaders over the centuries, and in 332 BC it became part of Alexander the Great’s empire. When the empire began to crumble, Rhodes asserted its independence. In 280 BC, it build the Colossus of Rhodes—a giant statue of Helios, the Greek Sun God, which was considered one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World—in celebration of fending off an invasion attack.
 
Knights_hospitallerIts strategic location as a crossroads for travel between the Middle East, The Greek Peloponnese peninsula and Byzantium made it hard to maintain its independence and it soon became part of the Byzantine Empire.
 
It was during the period of the Later Crusades that Rhodes became the headquarters of the Knights Hospitallers, a religious order founded after the First Crusade by former knights and dedicated to serving the sick, the poor and indigent pilgrims at the Hospital of St. John the Baptist in Jerusalem. As the Islamic forces reasserted their rule over the Levant, the Knights Hospitallers conquered Malta in 1310 and remained the sovereign rulers there for over two hundred years.
 
Rhodes 3The medieval city they built—an imposing walled enclave with a magnificent Palace of the Grand Masters overlooking the cerulean blue Aegean Sea—is today a World Heritage site as its historic cobbled streets and stone edifices are so well preserved. I fell in love with the Old City, with its series of inner and outer walls defensive walls. (a historian aboard our ship gave a lecture on how the system of walls was designed to defeat the cannonfire of attackers.)  Today there are walking paths around the perimeter, where you can get a good look at the defensive ramparts and where the defending cannons were placed.
 
Rhodes 4The Knight Hospitallers had a very distinctive eight-point cross—called a Maltese Cross—as their emblem, and you see it carved in the stone of the walls, as well as used as a decorative motif on the battlements. Inside the scenic Old City, there are narrow cobbled lanes branching off from the main Street of the Knights, which leads from the harbor up to the hilltop palace. After a few twist and turns, I really felt as if I was walking through history—the honey-colored stone seemed to silently whispering countless stories of all they had seen down through the centuries.
 
Rhodes 9I’ve mentioned here before that I’m working on a book about Lady Hester Stanhope, a remarkable woman who in later life became one of the most famous travelers of her era. After leaving England in 1810, she first traveled to Athens and Constantinople, then was on her way to the Levant when she was shipwrecked off Rhodes, and came ashore dressed in men’s clothes because all of her possessions sunk with the ship. (She loved how comfortable masculine clothing was, and adopted the look as her "signature" style!) So my walks had particular resonance as I imagined Lady Hester treading the very same stones and pausing to admire the very same crenellated towers. My current book ends as she leaves England, so I’m not sure I will write a scene of her in Rhodes. Still, it gave me goosebumps. (Here is a vintage print of the how the city looked in her time.)
A_small_harbour_in_Rhodes
Rhodes 1
I’m also planning to set my next Lady Arianna mystery in the Greek isles, and Rhodes will definitely be a setting. I’ve taken lots of photos and made notes on the locales, so that I can bring the city to life on the pages. Writing those scenes will bring back memories of the glorious sunlight (Rhodes is one of the sunniest spots in the Mediterranean) and stunning turquoise blue sea. (Fluttery sigh.)
 
What about you? Have you ever been inspired by a historical person—or a character in a novel—to visit a specific place? I really want to go to Corfu because of Mary Stewart’s wonderful romantic suspense novel, This Rough Magic!

80 thoughts on “The Long and Winding Rhodes”

  1. There is an enormous number of places I long to visit. Unfortunately, I want to visit many of them 100 years ago, or 200 years ago, or 500… Those voyages will have to remain in my imagination, with travel arrangements by authors like you. Thank you.

    Reply
  2. There is an enormous number of places I long to visit. Unfortunately, I want to visit many of them 100 years ago, or 200 years ago, or 500… Those voyages will have to remain in my imagination, with travel arrangements by authors like you. Thank you.

    Reply
  3. There is an enormous number of places I long to visit. Unfortunately, I want to visit many of them 100 years ago, or 200 years ago, or 500… Those voyages will have to remain in my imagination, with travel arrangements by authors like you. Thank you.

    Reply
  4. There is an enormous number of places I long to visit. Unfortunately, I want to visit many of them 100 years ago, or 200 years ago, or 500… Those voyages will have to remain in my imagination, with travel arrangements by authors like you. Thank you.

    Reply
  5. There is an enormous number of places I long to visit. Unfortunately, I want to visit many of them 100 years ago, or 200 years ago, or 500… Those voyages will have to remain in my imagination, with travel arrangements by authors like you. Thank you.

    Reply
  6. I pretty much want to go every place Mary Stewart wrote a book. She makes the scenery come to life. A few places in Greece are high on my list because of her. I always wanted to go to Egypt since I was a kid because of Elizabeth Peters and Amelia Peabody. I finally got there in Feb of 2020 and it was just as amazing as I hoped.

    Reply
  7. I pretty much want to go every place Mary Stewart wrote a book. She makes the scenery come to life. A few places in Greece are high on my list because of her. I always wanted to go to Egypt since I was a kid because of Elizabeth Peters and Amelia Peabody. I finally got there in Feb of 2020 and it was just as amazing as I hoped.

    Reply
  8. I pretty much want to go every place Mary Stewart wrote a book. She makes the scenery come to life. A few places in Greece are high on my list because of her. I always wanted to go to Egypt since I was a kid because of Elizabeth Peters and Amelia Peabody. I finally got there in Feb of 2020 and it was just as amazing as I hoped.

    Reply
  9. I pretty much want to go every place Mary Stewart wrote a book. She makes the scenery come to life. A few places in Greece are high on my list because of her. I always wanted to go to Egypt since I was a kid because of Elizabeth Peters and Amelia Peabody. I finally got there in Feb of 2020 and it was just as amazing as I hoped.

    Reply
  10. I pretty much want to go every place Mary Stewart wrote a book. She makes the scenery come to life. A few places in Greece are high on my list because of her. I always wanted to go to Egypt since I was a kid because of Elizabeth Peters and Amelia Peabody. I finally got there in Feb of 2020 and it was just as amazing as I hoped.

    Reply
  11. Lil, armchair travel is FAR more comfortable than going back in time! One of the beauties of modern-day technology t is that we can all see fabulous films/documentaries on most every place in the world. Not the same as being there, but pretty wonderful.

    Reply
  12. Lil, armchair travel is FAR more comfortable than going back in time! One of the beauties of modern-day technology t is that we can all see fabulous films/documentaries on most every place in the world. Not the same as being there, but pretty wonderful.

    Reply
  13. Lil, armchair travel is FAR more comfortable than going back in time! One of the beauties of modern-day technology t is that we can all see fabulous films/documentaries on most every place in the world. Not the same as being there, but pretty wonderful.

    Reply
  14. Lil, armchair travel is FAR more comfortable than going back in time! One of the beauties of modern-day technology t is that we can all see fabulous films/documentaries on most every place in the world. Not the same as being there, but pretty wonderful.

    Reply
  15. Lil, armchair travel is FAR more comfortable than going back in time! One of the beauties of modern-day technology t is that we can all see fabulous films/documentaries on most every place in the world. Not the same as being there, but pretty wonderful.

    Reply
  16. Thanks for the lovely post and the pictures. I love the feelings you expressed from your walk through narrow streets.
    Amelia Peabody made me want to go to Egypt and see all the places she traveled.
    I would not want all the villains along on my trip, but I would love to see where she had been.
    Thanks for sharing with us.

    Reply
  17. Thanks for the lovely post and the pictures. I love the feelings you expressed from your walk through narrow streets.
    Amelia Peabody made me want to go to Egypt and see all the places she traveled.
    I would not want all the villains along on my trip, but I would love to see where she had been.
    Thanks for sharing with us.

    Reply
  18. Thanks for the lovely post and the pictures. I love the feelings you expressed from your walk through narrow streets.
    Amelia Peabody made me want to go to Egypt and see all the places she traveled.
    I would not want all the villains along on my trip, but I would love to see where she had been.
    Thanks for sharing with us.

    Reply
  19. Thanks for the lovely post and the pictures. I love the feelings you expressed from your walk through narrow streets.
    Amelia Peabody made me want to go to Egypt and see all the places she traveled.
    I would not want all the villains along on my trip, but I would love to see where she had been.
    Thanks for sharing with us.

    Reply
  20. Thanks for the lovely post and the pictures. I love the feelings you expressed from your walk through narrow streets.
    Amelia Peabody made me want to go to Egypt and see all the places she traveled.
    I would not want all the villains along on my trip, but I would love to see where she had been.
    Thanks for sharing with us.

    Reply
  21. SO interesting. I’ve been to many places but mostly not associated with any book I’m reading. Maybe when I retire I’ll be able to do some of that!

    Reply
  22. SO interesting. I’ve been to many places but mostly not associated with any book I’m reading. Maybe when I retire I’ll be able to do some of that!

    Reply
  23. SO interesting. I’ve been to many places but mostly not associated with any book I’m reading. Maybe when I retire I’ll be able to do some of that!

    Reply
  24. SO interesting. I’ve been to many places but mostly not associated with any book I’m reading. Maybe when I retire I’ll be able to do some of that!

    Reply
  25. SO interesting. I’ve been to many places but mostly not associated with any book I’m reading. Maybe when I retire I’ll be able to do some of that!

    Reply
  26. Oh, another Amelia Peabody fan! Maybe we need to do a Wench cruise down the Nile! I. too, would love to visit all the places mentioned in the books. And yes, no villains . . .except for Sethos! He can join us anytime!
    So glad you enjoyed the post, Annette.

    Reply
  27. Oh, another Amelia Peabody fan! Maybe we need to do a Wench cruise down the Nile! I. too, would love to visit all the places mentioned in the books. And yes, no villains . . .except for Sethos! He can join us anytime!
    So glad you enjoyed the post, Annette.

    Reply
  28. Oh, another Amelia Peabody fan! Maybe we need to do a Wench cruise down the Nile! I. too, would love to visit all the places mentioned in the books. And yes, no villains . . .except for Sethos! He can join us anytime!
    So glad you enjoyed the post, Annette.

    Reply
  29. Oh, another Amelia Peabody fan! Maybe we need to do a Wench cruise down the Nile! I. too, would love to visit all the places mentioned in the books. And yes, no villains . . .except for Sethos! He can join us anytime!
    So glad you enjoyed the post, Annette.

    Reply
  30. Oh, another Amelia Peabody fan! Maybe we need to do a Wench cruise down the Nile! I. too, would love to visit all the places mentioned in the books. And yes, no villains . . .except for Sethos! He can join us anytime!
    So glad you enjoyed the post, Annette.

    Reply
  31. Andrea, I enjoyed this very much. I went to Rhodes many years ago as a young backpacker and I loved it. I spent a few days there and got to explore quite a bit of the island. Your post took me right back, so thanks for the memories.

    Reply
  32. Andrea, I enjoyed this very much. I went to Rhodes many years ago as a young backpacker and I loved it. I spent a few days there and got to explore quite a bit of the island. Your post took me right back, so thanks for the memories.

    Reply
  33. Andrea, I enjoyed this very much. I went to Rhodes many years ago as a young backpacker and I loved it. I spent a few days there and got to explore quite a bit of the island. Your post took me right back, so thanks for the memories.

    Reply
  34. Andrea, I enjoyed this very much. I went to Rhodes many years ago as a young backpacker and I loved it. I spent a few days there and got to explore quite a bit of the island. Your post took me right back, so thanks for the memories.

    Reply
  35. Andrea, I enjoyed this very much. I went to Rhodes many years ago as a young backpacker and I loved it. I spent a few days there and got to explore quite a bit of the island. Your post took me right back, so thanks for the memories.

    Reply
  36. I’d love to go to Rhodes and Malta. I spent 2 idyllic weeks on Corfu when I was a young backpacker. I can’t say that I saw much of the island. I spent the whole time lazing on the beach, eating fresh caught fish and figs off the tree. It was absolutely wonderful.

    Reply
  37. I’d love to go to Rhodes and Malta. I spent 2 idyllic weeks on Corfu when I was a young backpacker. I can’t say that I saw much of the island. I spent the whole time lazing on the beach, eating fresh caught fish and figs off the tree. It was absolutely wonderful.

    Reply
  38. I’d love to go to Rhodes and Malta. I spent 2 idyllic weeks on Corfu when I was a young backpacker. I can’t say that I saw much of the island. I spent the whole time lazing on the beach, eating fresh caught fish and figs off the tree. It was absolutely wonderful.

    Reply
  39. I’d love to go to Rhodes and Malta. I spent 2 idyllic weeks on Corfu when I was a young backpacker. I can’t say that I saw much of the island. I spent the whole time lazing on the beach, eating fresh caught fish and figs off the tree. It was absolutely wonderful.

    Reply
  40. I’d love to go to Rhodes and Malta. I spent 2 idyllic weeks on Corfu when I was a young backpacker. I can’t say that I saw much of the island. I spent the whole time lazing on the beach, eating fresh caught fish and figs off the tree. It was absolutely wonderful.

    Reply
  41. So glad you enjoyed the post, Anne. I wish I had had more time to explore. I love to hike, and would have loved to do some walks along the coast to some of the small villages. The beaches are gorgeous and the water is such a beautiful shade of aqua. I’d love to go back and spend more time there, as well as see more of the Greek isles.

    Reply
  42. So glad you enjoyed the post, Anne. I wish I had had more time to explore. I love to hike, and would have loved to do some walks along the coast to some of the small villages. The beaches are gorgeous and the water is such a beautiful shade of aqua. I’d love to go back and spend more time there, as well as see more of the Greek isles.

    Reply
  43. So glad you enjoyed the post, Anne. I wish I had had more time to explore. I love to hike, and would have loved to do some walks along the coast to some of the small villages. The beaches are gorgeous and the water is such a beautiful shade of aqua. I’d love to go back and spend more time there, as well as see more of the Greek isles.

    Reply
  44. So glad you enjoyed the post, Anne. I wish I had had more time to explore. I love to hike, and would have loved to do some walks along the coast to some of the small villages. The beaches are gorgeous and the water is such a beautiful shade of aqua. I’d love to go back and spend more time there, as well as see more of the Greek isles.

    Reply
  45. So glad you enjoyed the post, Anne. I wish I had had more time to explore. I love to hike, and would have loved to do some walks along the coast to some of the small villages. The beaches are gorgeous and the water is such a beautiful shade of aqua. I’d love to go back and spend more time there, as well as see more of the Greek isles.

    Reply

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