The palace that is also called the Kastello, is built at the highest point of the medieval city, to the north-west, and its volumes dominate the city and its harbour. It was a strong structure, indissolubly linked with the fortifications, and played an active role in the defence of the city, forming the last refuge of the population in the event of the city boiling to the enemy.
The palace of the Grand Master is a roughly square building (dim: 80×75 m) designed around a large courtyard (dim: ca. 50×40 m). Built at the end of the 7th c., to act as the citadel of the Early Byzantine fortress, it continued to play this role throughout the Byzantine period and the period of the Knights of St. John (1309-1522). The building was modified before the Knights established themselves on the. island; from the first quarter of the 14th c. the Knights began to repair the Byzantine citadel and convert it into the residence of the Grand Master and administrative centre of their state.
The main entrance is in the south facade, flanked by two imposing towers. The west facade is pierced by a gate, in front of which rises a tall, square tower, probably the work of the Grand Master Pierre d’Aubusson (1476-1503). On the north side there are underground rooms that served as storerooms; and it was probably in these that pad of the civilian population took refuge in the event of an enemy attack. The ground floor was occupied by small and large vaulted rooms, set around a square courtyard, which were used as ancillary rooms.
In about the middle of the 19th c., the first floor collapsed completely, and very little of it survived until 1937, and the beginning of restoration work. On the first floor were various official rooms, such as the Great Council Chamber and the dining room, as well as the private quarters of the Grand Master, which were commonly known as Margaritae. During the period of Italian rule, a chapel was built to the right of the monumental marble staircase leading up to the first floor. In it was erected a bronze statue of Saint Nicholas, a copy of the work of that name by Donatello, in Bari. Floor mosaics of late Hellenistic, Roman and Early Christian times have been laid in many of the rooms on the first floor, most of them taken from buildings of Kos.
Open: Tuesday to Sunday – 08:00 to 16:00
Address: Odos Ippoton, Rhodes 85100, Greece, GR
Tel: +30 22410 23359