Rhodes (ancient and modern Gr. Rhodos, from , a rose).
An Island Of Turkey In The Mediterranean, off the S. W. coast of Asia Minor, from which it is separated by a channel 10 m. wide. It is between lat. 35° 50' and 36° 30' N, and lon. 27° 40' and 28° 20' E.; area, about 452 sq. m.; pop. about 34,000, of whom about 7,000 are Turks, 2,000 Jews, and the remainder Greeks, with a few hundred Franks or Europeans. It is ruled by a pasha, who holds office for life, governing also the adjoining islands belonging to Turkey, and who farms the revenues. It is the seat of an archbishop of the Greek church. The island is divided lengthwise, N. and S., by a mountain chain or ridge. The loftiest summits are Ar-tamiti, the ancient Atabyris, about 6,000 ft. high, and Attairo, 4,000 ft. The most considerable river is the Fisco. The well watered and fertile valleys are not fully cultivated. Some cotton is grown, and a tract of low hills next to the coast district still produces the perfumed wine for which the island was once celebrated. The climate is said to be the finest in the Mediterranean. Commerce is carried on in oil, oranges, citrons, coral, sponges, leather, and marble. - The earliest historical inhabitants of Rhodes were of Doric race, and the three most ancient towns of the island, Lindus, Ialy-sus, and Camirus, formed, together with Cos, Cnidus, and Halicarnassus on the mainland, the confederation called the Doric hexapolis.
At a remote period Rhodes was populous and prosperous. It was one of the stations of Phoenician commerce, and though in a state of decadence at the time of the fall of Sidon, it continued for several centuries to be one of the principal centres of trade, and sent colonies to Spain, Italy, and Sicily, as well as to the coasts of Asia Minor. In conjunction with Asiatic Greeks and Cnidians, the Rhodians established in 578 B. C. a colony on the N. E. coast of, Spain, to which was given the name of Rhoda (now Rosas.) The island did not take a prominent position among the Grecian states till 408, when the three cities before named joined in building the city of Rhodes, which thenceforth became the capital. The island fell under the dominion of Alexander the Great, but after his death the Macedonian garrison was expelled, and Rhodes entered upon the most glorious epoch of her history, during which her power was admitted by all the surrounding nations, and her dominion, in consequence of her alliance with Rome against Antiochus the Great and others, established for a time over a portion of the adjacent coast of Asia Minor. The Rhodians remained faithful to Rome during the Mithridatic wars, entered actively into her civil wars, and their adhesion to the party of Caesar was severely punished by the capture and plunder of the city of Rhodes in 42 B. C. From this period the island rapidly declined in political- power, though it long continued to be famous as a seat of learning.
It was finally deprived of its autonomy by the emperor Vespasian. In 330 the city was made the metropolis of the Provincia Insularum. Upon the ruin of the empire of the East the island fell successively into the hands of the caliphs, the crusaders, and the Genoese; and in 1309 the knights of St. John of Jerusalem, who had been compelled to evacuate Palestine, landed at Rhodes, and under the grand master Foulque de Villaret vanquished the Moslems and Greeks in several encounters, and made themselves masters of the city and the island. The knights held the place for two centuries, and in 1522 Sultan Solyman the Magnificent advanced against it with an army numbering upward of 200,000. There was on the island to oppose this only a force of 6,000, headed by the grand master Villiers de l'Isle-Adam. After a siege that lasted through the whole summer, almost innumerable assaults, and a most heroic defence, the city capitulated in October, and has ever since remained under its present masters. The surviving defenders were allowed to leave the island. (See Saint John of Jerusalem, Knights of.) Rhodes has many times been visited by earthquakes; that of April 22, 1863, ruined hundreds of dwellings and destroyed thousands of lives.
There are now on the island about 44 villages, thinly populated.
The Chief City And Capital Of The Island, on the N. E. coast; pop. about 20,000, Turks, Greeks, and Jews. It is built in the form of an amphitheatre upon a bay between two capes, and is surrounded by ancient walls and towers built by the knights of St. John. There are two harbors, separated by a narrow quay. The palace of the grand master was a large and handsome building and commanded the city; it was much injured by the explosion of a powder magazine in 1856, and the earthquake of 1863 completely destroyed it, as well as the once magnificent church of St. John, then a Turkish mosque. There are no considerable remains of an earlier time than the residence of the knights of St. John, among which is a moated castle of great size and strength, containing the cloisters of the knights. The city of Rhodes, which in 304 B. C. withstood a famous siege by Demetrius Poliorcetes, is described by Strabo as superior to all other cities for the beauty and convenience of its ports, streets, walls, and public edifices, all of them profusely adorned with works of art. There are said to have been about 3,000 statues in the city.
It contained one of the seven wonders of the ancient world in its brazen statue of Apollo, commonly called the colossus of Rhodes. (See Colossus).
Rhodes, from the hill northwest of the city.