Castle of Rhodes – Palace of the Grand Master (History & Travel Tips)

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Located in the beautiful city of Rhodes, Greece, the Castle of Rhodes stands proud as a medieval wonder. The grand place is reflective of the splendor of the Byzantine Empire and its architectural heritage. Apart from its structural magnificence, the palace also holds historical importance for being the home residence for the Great Masters of the Knights of St. John. 

To understand the significance of the castle in the books of history and what makes it a famous tourist spot in Greece, let us take a deeper look into the Palace of the Grand Master of the Knights of Rhodes in the coming section.

The Palace of the Grand Master of the Knights of Rhodes is also known as Kastello and is located at the highest point in Rhodes, Greece.

The full view of Rhodes Palace from afar.
The full view of Rhodes Palace from afar. Georg Karl Ell, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
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Frequently Asked Questions

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Early History

From Rhodes Fortress to Rhodes Palace

The Grand Palace dates back to the Byzantine period in the 7th century AD, when the Byzantine Emperor laid out the foundation for the palace. It was initially designed as a fortress, which was later seized by the Knights of St. John. They modified the fortress’s structure into a residential palace for the Grand Master of the Knights.

The modifications and expansion of the palace were done by Pierre d’Aubusson and Fabrizio Del Carretto. From the 14th to 16th centuries, the palace served as the residence for nineteen Grandmasters. However, the attacks by the Ottomans in the 16th century drove the knights off the island, and the Ottomans took over the palace. 

Castle of Rhodes in 1844 under Ottoman rule.
Castle of Rhodes in 1844 under Ottoman rule. Unknown author, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Destruction of the Palace Under the Ottoman Empire

After the conquest of Rhodes Island and the Knights of St. John abandoning the Palace, the Palace of the Grand Master of the Knights of Rhodes was converted to a prison, a warehouse, and a home for the guards by the Ottoman invaders. During this time, the palace was subjected to two major turbulences, which destroyed the original architecture. The first was an earthquake hitting the city of Rhodes in 1851, which damaged a major portion of the palace. The other unfortunate event was a huge explosion of a powder magazine in 1856. The explosion destroyed the church of St. John the Baptist and the tombs of some of the grandmasters. 

The view of Rhodes Palace inside grounds.
The view of Rhodes Palace courtyard. Jorge Láscar from Australia, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Reconstruction of the Palace by Italian Monarchy 

For fifty years after the explosion, the castle was left in ruins. The turning point in the history of the Castle of Rhodes came with the seizing of Rhodes by the Italian Monarchy during the Italo-Turkish War. The restoration of the palace started in the 1930s, returning it to its original grandeur. After the restoration of the palace, it was converted to a vacation house for King Victor Emmanuel III and Benito Mussolini.

The dining hall inside Rhodes Palace.
The dining hall inside Rhodes Palace. Bengt Nyman from Vaxholm, Sweden, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Current Times

After the end of WWII, the city of Rhodes was returned to Greece in 1947. Since then, the Island of Rhodes and the Palace of the Grand Master of the Knights of Rhodes have become busy tourist spots. The palace attracts thousands of tourists from across the globe to visit the centuries of historical conflicts etched on the walls of the castle.

The front view of rhodes palace.
The front view of Rhodes palace. Grb16, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Today, the palace constitutes a large courtyard filled with numerous statues of the Roman Emperors excavated from the Odeon of Kos. To the right of the castle’s grand staircase, there is a small chapel added by the Italians during the renovation of the palace. The interior of the castle is filled with furnishings, artifacts, and sculptures of the Byzantium, Ottoman, and Italian periods. 

Interesting Castle of Rhodes Facts

  • The existing version of the Palace of the Grand Master of the Knights of Rhodes mainly reflects the Italian renovations. 
  • The castle serves as a rare example of Gothic architecture in Greece. 
  • The Palace of the Grand Master of the Knights of Rhodes is also known as Kastello and is located at the highest point in Rhodes, Greece.

Visiting the Castle of Rhodes – Tips and Tricks

While visiting the City of Rhodes, it is a shame if you skip visiting this historical wonder. There is a small fee to visit the palace; however, the experience is for a lifetime. 

We have you covered if you are looking for some necessary tips and tricks to visit the palace. In the following section, you will find everything from the ticketing cost to visiting hours to some general tips to ease your visit.

Visiting Tourists inside Rhodes Palace.
Visiting Tourists inside Rhodes Palace.

How to get to the Castle of Rhodes?

You can easily walk up the hill to the castle from Rhodes central. The cheapest and most feasible way to reach the castle is via bus, which costs around €2-4 (USD $3-5). Taking a taxi from Rhodes Island to the palace can cost about €43 (USD $50).

Ticket Prices, Visiting Hours & Travel Tips

The palace is open for visitors all around the year. However, the peak months to visit the palace last from April till October. The opening hours of the palace during these months vary depending upon the day of the week. The palace opens from 9 am-4 pm on Saturday, Sunday, and Monday. From Tuesday to Friday, the opening hours are from 8 am-10 pm. 

For the rest of the year, from November to March, the palace opens from 8:30 am- 3 pm, closed on Mondays. 

The entry fee is €6 (USD $7) for adults. For adults over 65, the entry fee is €4 (USD $4.5). For children under 18, admission is free. There is no entry fee for students from European countries;whereas students from non-EU countries pay €3 ($3 USD). 

In addition to the palace gardens and museum, there is also a gift shop and a coffee house. You can relax with a delicious cup of coffee while buying a souvenir from the palace for memory’s sake. 

A reflection of the Gothic architecture of Greece.
A reflection of the Gothic architecture of Greece. User:Piotrus, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

How Long Will It Take to Tour Around?

It can take up to 2-3 hours to completely visit the Palace from the gardens to the elaborate interior and artifacts that the Palace of the Grand Master of the Knights of Rhodes offers.

Some words of advice and tips: 

  • If you plan on visiting the castle during the busy months, it is better to book a reservation online to secure a spot. 
  • Be respectful towards the palace premises. Avoid littering the palace and take care of your trash. You risk a fine for littering. 
  • Be careful of the national heritage which is displayed inside the palace. Do not touch the artifacts.

Quick Video Tour of The Main Castle of Rhodes Areas

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Kainat Khalid
Kainat Khalid
Kainat is an English literature graduate with a profound interest in historical architecture. She has studied and explored the dusted pages of history for years which has ignited her passion to explore the existing remnants of our past glory and revisit them from a revised perspective. “There is no present without the past” is what she believes in and what drove her to begin cataloging these timeless historical monuments.

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