Early next morning we heard the self opinionated bankers leaving for the next leg of the journey to Kos and we were pleased that they had gone. For our last full day in Rhodes we had saved the visit to the Palace of the Grand Masters as we anticipated that this might be one of the highlights so after a second excellent breakfast on the terrace prepared by Sofia we set off again towards the heart of the old medieval city and the street of the Knights and at the top the Palace itself.
From the outside it looks impressive but it isn’t the original Palace of course because that was destroyed in an explosion in the nineteenth century. The blast levelled it (and pretty much everything else adjacent to it) to the ground and it was later rebuilt by the Italians who didn’t concern themselves too greatly with issues of historical accuracy. They thought it might make a good Palace for the Italian King to come and stay but as it happened he never visited Rhodes or stayed at the place. Just as in Lindos and the bodged reconstruction of the Acropolis they again used inappropriate building materials, which means almost constant repair work and today the huge main gate was entirely surrounded by scaffolding.
We paid the entrance fee of €6 each and competed with several organized tour groups as we went through the courtyard and into the succession of rooms and exhibits. It was quite interesting but we didn’t rate it as highly as the Archaeological Museum that we had visited the previous day and after an hour we had seen most of what there was to see and we were back out in the sunshine.
The old town was busy today which was no real surprise because Sofia had told us at breakfast that there were seven cruise ships due to stop by and visit today so we kept away from the crowded main squares and shopping streets and once again dropped into the back streets of the Turkish quarter and walked right through to one of the southern gates of the city.
Temporarily leaving the old town we walked for a few hundred metres on the outer side of the walls through the new town. It was busy, grubby and dirty and we were glad when we reached the next gate and were able to return to the quieter streets of the old Jewish quarter. Quieter because although this used to be a thriving Jewish area they were all expelled during the Nazi occupation late in the Second-World-War and the Jewish community have never returned.
During the three days we had tried to capture pictures of the Street of Knights at various times and in different lights so in the early evening we walked there once more and stayed there until the sun had completely disappeared in the west and the subdued street lights brought a different atmosphere to the place with a waxy glow reflecting off the pitted stonework of the walls.
When it was no longer possible to take pictures we walked back through the busy streets ignoring the waiters as we went and made for the Jewish quarter once more where we planned to eat at Kostas’ Restaurant which was one of Sofia’s recommendations. It wasn’t especially late but it was really busy already and we couldn’t get a table in the main dining room so had to sit in the hallway instead. It was so busy that the service wasn’t that good and although the food excellent I think on reflection we could have found somewhere better for our final meal in Rhodes.
To get back to our room we had to go through the Turkish quarter and past a Mosque where a service had clearly just finished. I took a look inside at the brightly coloured carpets and wall hangings but I didn’t think it was appropriate to go through the door.
There were lots of men outside and one of them told me that this was an important night for Muslims because this was the last day of Ramadan. Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar and is the month of fasting in which Muslims refrain from eating, drinking and sexual relations during the hours of daylight. Fasting is intended to teach Muslims about patience, humility, and spirituality. It is a time for Muslims to fast for the sake of God and to offer more prayer than usual. During Ramadan, Muslims ask forgiveness for past sins, pray for guidance and help in refraining from everyday evils, and try to purify themselves through self-restraint and good deeds. They all seemed a bit excited tonight and I suspect they were all going on to a party.