Sunday, September 15, 2013

The Castle of St. Nicholas

From antiquity, the Greek island of Rhodes has had a geostrategic importance due to its position within the Aegean Sea. For this reason, the walls and fortresses were built were built in such a way so as to be resistant to repeated attacks by the barbarians who wished to conquer the island. One of these forts/castle, and perhaps the most significant on the island of Rhodes, is the castle of St. Nicholas. The imposing fort of St. Nicholas was built in 1464 by Grand Master Pierre Zakosta, as a way to address the continuous threats of Sultan Muhammad and his fleet. The name was given due to a small church in the area, dedicated to St. Nicholas – the patron saint of sailors, which existed before the construction of the castle.

Originally this castle was known as the “Tower of Burgundy”. There the Frankish ships use to anchor, that is why it was also known as the “Port des galeres”. The fort stood impregnable in many sieges against the island, saving the city, the Knights and the population of Rhodes. In later years, a lantern of the Aegean was placed on the tower, being therefore the lighthouse that stood on the edge of the harbour of Rhodes. The lighthouse was constructed in 1863 by a French company and has since impressively welcomed with its light those entering the city of Rhodes by the port. 
Near the lighthouse are the two famous deers (the symbol of Rhodes) which welcome the visitor upon entering the harbour. That is the spot, where it is believed that the ancient Colossus of Rhodes, one of the ancient wonders of the world was once located. Therefore, we understand that the combination of fortress and lighthouse is explosive, especially if we take into account the fact that from ancient times the castle protected the site from foreign invaders while, on the other hand, the lighthouse is a trademark of prosperity, peace and culture.

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