Rhodes (Greek: Ρόδος - Ródos) is the main city of the Greek island of Rhodes, in the Aegean Sea. It is the capital of the prefecture Dodecanese. Its permanent population is 53,709 according to the 2001 census.
The city of Rhodes is situated on the northern tip of the island. It includes the medieval city that was built by the Knights of St. John.
The city was founded in 408 BC by the three major cities on the island at that time: Ialyssos, Lindos and Kamiros. The next three centuries would be prosperous ones but that was halted by the Roman conquest of the island, as much of the treasure of the city was stripped and sent to Rome. In the Middle Ages, Rhodes became part of the Byzantine Empire and was the See of a bishop. The Arabs came in the 7th Century and occupied the city for several decades.
In 1309, the city was sold to the Knights of St. John under whom, much of the medieval city was built. Rhodes prospered during that time and the relation of the Knights to the local populace was characterised by tolerance and cooperation.
In 1522, Rhodes fell to the Ottoman Turks after a siege. The Greek population was forced out of the walled city into suburban areas and many churches were converted into mosques. Turkish occupation lasted until 1912 when the Italians took over. Under Italian rule, much of the Ottoman architecture was demolished and the city was radically modernised. That era came to a close after World War II, when Rhodes, along with the rest of the Dodecanese, became part of Greece.
Much of the damage caused during the war was repaired and many old buildings were declared landmarks by the Greek government. In 1960, the entire medieval town was designated as a protected monument by the Ministry of Culture. In 1988, the old town of Rhodes was designated as a World Heritage City by UNESCO.