Image © Rhodes Guide / RhodesGuide.com

Rhodes Acropolis, Rhodes

The Acropolis of Rhodes, along with the Ancient Stadium of Rhodes, stood on the hill now known as Monte Smith. Only few surviving remains of the Acropolis exist to provide a faint idea of its original grandeur. Still, it is well worth a visit.

The Rhodes Acropolis dominated the western and highest part of the city. It was not fortified, unlike most ancient Acropoleis. It consisted of a monumental zone with Sanctuaries, large temples, public buildings and underground cult places. The buildings were built on stepped terraces supported by strong retaining walls. It was "full of fields and groves", in the words of the 2nd c. AD orator Ailios Aristides. The style of the Hellenistic architecture on the Acropolis of Rhodes was perfectly conveyed by the combination of natural beauty and artificial transformations. The buildings on the Rhodes Acropolis date to the Hellenistic and Late Hellenistic periods (3rd-2nd c. BC).

The Acropolis of Rhodes is on a hill overlooking the modem new town and medieval town. In antiquity the population of the city was supposedly larger than that of today and extended over the eastern slopes of Aghios Stephanos, which was later also known as the hill of Monte Smith, named after the English admiral Sir Sidney Smith who established an observation post in 1802 to watch over the movements of the Napoleonic fleet in 1802, right down to the city harbour.

The excavations were carried out by the Italian Archaeological School during the Italian occupation of the island (1912-1945). From 1946 onwards the Greek Archaeological Service conducted excavations which added to our knowledge of the history and topography of the place. The whole of the Acropolis of Rhodes has not yet been excavated. An archaeological zone of 12,500 m² has been excluded from contemporary building with the intention of continuing excavation works to uncover the splendid ancient city of Rhodes.


There was extensive reconstruction during the Italian occupation in keeping with the spirit of the time. From 1946 onwards the Greek Archaeological Service carried out restoration work in the area of the Temple of Pythian Apollo, which had suffered considerable damage from bombing in the 2nd World War and from the weight of the artillery that had been installed there. During the 60's and 70's there was reconstruction work to the west foundation of the same temple, and in 1996 further reconstruction was carried out on the temple and the Nymphaia.


Monuments at the Acropolis of Rhodes

The most important monuments in the archaeological zone of the Rhodes Acropolis are the following:

Rhodes Acropolis © Rhodes Guide / RhodesGuide.com

Temple of Athena Polias and Zeus Polieus on the northern edge of the Rhodes Acropolis.
It is orientated E-W and was a Doric peripteral temple (having a columned portico on all four sides). Four oversize column drums and parts of a capital and architrave still to be seen on the site are an indication of its original monumental character. This was where the Rhodians kept the texts of their treaties with other states. The temple stood in a larger temenos bounded by a stoa on the east.

"Nymphaia". This is to the east and south of the wall of the stoa.
It consists of four subterranean cave-like constructions cut into the rock with entrance steps, communicating passages and a large opening in the central part of the roof. There are recesses in the interior walls for statuettes. Water cisterns and lush vegetation complete the picture. They were places for recreation and worship. 

Odeion.
Northwest of the Stadium is a small restored marble Odeion, a small reconstructed Theatre. It held some 800 spectators and is thought to have been used either for musical events or for attending lessons in rhetoric given by famous Rhodian orators.

Temple of Pythian Apollo.
This stands on the southern part of the hill of the Acropolis, on the west side of a large rectangular terrace. It is orientated E-W. It was a peripteral temple, but smaller than that of Athena and Zeus. Part of the NE side had been restored with four columns and part of the architrave.

Stoa building.
Today the foundation wall of a Stoa is preserved, which must have had an imposing facade visible from the lower town and harbour.

Artemision.
On the NE side of the same terrace are the ruins of other places of worship, one of which is attributed to the cult of Artemis.

Ancient Stadium of Rhodes.
The Stadium at the Rhodes Acropolis, with a N-S orientation, is on the SE side of the hill; it was excavated and restored by the Italians. It was one stadion in length, namely 600 feet or 210 metres. The authentic original surviving parts are the sphendone (rounded end with turning post), proedries (seats of officials) and some of the lower seats in the auditorium. Also preserved is the starting mechanism for the athletes.

Rhodes Acropolis © Rhodes Guide / RhodesGuide.com

Gymnasium.
This is east of the Ancient Stadium. Part of the west side was uncovered in the past, and recently the NE corner was discovered under the modern refreshment pavilion. It was a large square building measuring some 200 m on each side. It was important for the works of art which it contained.

Library.
There used to be a fine Library containing notable works of rhetoric, near the Gymnasium and the Odeion, according to an inscription found in the area.

Source: culture.gr

Map location for Rhodes Acropolis

Rhodes Acropolis Rhodes Greece map

Article topics

Related articles

Within the walls of the Acropolis of Lindos, lies the Medieval Castle, the Governor's Palace of the Castle of the Knights of St John, consisting of three buildings, with only two remaining today.

Topics: Castle, Historic buildings, History, Monuments in Rhodes

Read more about The Medieval Castle of Lindos

The district of Ialyssos (Ialysos) encompasses the northern part of the island. It was inhabited in the prehistoric period. Remains of a Minoan settlement have been found at Trianda and Mycenaean cemeteries have been located on the surrounding hills of Makria Vounara and Moschou Vounara (1700-1400 BC).

Topics: Archaeology, Historic buildings, History, Monuments in Rhodes

Read more about Ancient Ialyssos (Ialysos)

When you approach the walls of the Old Town of Rhodes, you are about to enter the oldest inhabited medieval town in Europe. Do not be misled by the term "medieval" into thinking that what you will see is a ruined and deserted city.

Topics: Monuments in Rhodes

Read more about Rhodes Medieval Town

Looking for things to do in Rhodes?

Don't miss out on great experiences!
Check out the following offers for things to do and activities in Rhodes!

Looking for a hotel on Rhodes?

Hey! we got some hot rental deals for your vacation!
Check the following deals and special offers for hotels on Rhodes!
Booking.com


We have just visited the Acropolis and were amazed how interesting it is. We had driven past but it is not until you climb down to it that you realise how much there is to see. Let's hope more excavation takes place.

Commented by Mary Amin September 03, 2012

Surreal! You can really feel the history in this place, I want to know more of it now!

Commented by William Hutchins August 10, 2010

Let us know what you think about Rhodes Acropolis - we would love to read your opinion!
Rate this article or place (optional)

From our blog

Hippocrates was a Greek physician who lived in Classical Greece (the Age of Pericles). He is considered one of the most outstanding figures in the history of medicine. What Hippocrates Knew and We Have Forgotten.

Read more about Hippocrates: Father Of Medicine

The 7th Marathon of Rhodes is organized by the Region of South Aegean, EAS SEGAS Dodecanese, DOOPAR of the Municipality of Rhodes and is supported by the Rhodes Hoteliers Association. It is under the auspices of the Greek Tourism Organization and is included in the official calendar of AIMS.

Read more about Roads to Rhodes Marathon 2020

We all know or have heard about the winds of the Aegean, most commonly known under the Turkish name Meltemia that appear during the summer season. The etymology of Meltemi is of Turkish origin. The ancient Greeks called it "Etesian" (Yearly). Meltemia generally belongs to the category of seasonal winds.

Read more about Meltemi (or Meltemia), the winds of the Aegean

Rhodes has become one of the most popular destinations for weddings abroad. Its a beautiful island that offers a large variety of locations with gorgeous settings, enabling you to make your wedding day an unforgettable one. Antonis Giannelis, a WPJA award winning wedding photographer located in Rhodes gives practical advice.

Read more about Your wedding in Rhodes - Capturing your most precious moments

Easter (Pas-ch-a in Greek) is the most important and the most sacred religious feast in the context of the Greek Orthodox Church. As a result, If you are indeed lucky enough to visit Rhodes and Greece during Easter period, you will find yourself right in the middle of an experience rich in rituals and customs, many of which originate long before the beginning of the Christian era.

Read more about Easter in Rhodes

Sunglasses can give you instant James Dean cool, Audrey Hepburn glamour, or the rock star hipness of Bono. But they are much more than a fashion accessory. Sunglasses are an essential tool in safeguarding the health of your eyes and the surrounding tissue.

Read more about Fun in the sun: how to choose and pick good sunglasses

The Greek islands bask under endless sunshine from April to the end of October. And arguably the best of the weather is in the Dodecanese chain, 260 miles south-east of Athens and within a Zorba’s dance-step of Turkey. Dodeca means 12 in Greek, but in fact there are 16 islands here, the best-known being Rhodes and Kos. With such long summers, there’s plenty of time to plonk yourself down on a sun lounger on a Dodecanese beach.

Read more about Dodecanese islands. Rhodes and Symi are fit for the Gods

Feedback