Travelling to Rhodes - Covid-19 Information
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.

Rhodes Acropolis © RhodesGuide.com

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.

Rhodes Acropolis © RhodesGuide.com

Rhodes Acropolis © RhodesGuide.com

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

Article topics

Related articles

A two-storeyd building with flat roof and an arcade looking towards the road by the sea. The walls are built in the typical, local isodomic masonry. Very interesting is the structure of the interior, visible in the plans of the building.

Topics: Historic buildings, Monuments in Rhodes

Read more about Aktaion

The Municipal Gallery of Rhodes today houses one of the most representative and authoritative collections of 20th-century Greek painting. Most of the painters who worked creatively during these nine decades are represented in this collection through some of their most characteristic works.

Topics: Archaeology, Historic buildings, Monuments in Rhodes

Read more about Municipal Art Gallery

Tharri Monastery is surrounded by nature, a perfect place to experience calmness and tranquility. The Monastery is well known for its hospitality and attracts many visitors.

Topics: Monuments in Rhodes

Read more about Tharri Monastery




Rhodes Acropolis reviews & comments

click here to add your review!

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 - your opinion matters!
Rate this article or place (optional)

From our blog

Rhodes has ample nightlife opportunities to offer. With crystal beaches that glimmer under the sun, and stunning blue waters surrounding ancient buildings, coastal caves and sheltered bays, museums, ancient ruins, castles and monasteries revealing its rich history, it’s no secret that Rhodes is a place thriving with culture, history and beauty. Equally impressive is the nightlife in Rhodes, which we will explore here.

Read more about Rhodes Nightlife

On Sunday 14th April 2019, runners will have the opportunity to run in Rhodes, on a flat course with the spectacular views of the deep blue Aegean Sea, along the coastline and the walls of the Medieval Town of Rhodes, declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.

Read more about Roads to Rhodes Marathon 2019

Being one of the first of the Aegean islands to adopt the cultivation of the grapevine and wine production process. Thanks to it's unique soil and plenty of sunshine, wines of Rhodes today have a fine reputation.

Read more about The Wine and Vineries of Rhodes

Rhodes’ miniature horse, or Rhodian Pony, is an endangered horse species found on the island of Rhodes in Greece. Efforts to save the breed began in 2001 by the "Phaethon" association, which succeeded in collecting and stabling the little horses, ensuring their survival, while sensitizing the local community to their plight. Though they are also known as Rhodian ponies they do not have typical pony traits, apart from their small size.

Read more about The miniature horse of 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

A Park that invites you to experience art under the Rhodian Sky. The Art park is a non-profit gallery of fine arts, photography, sculpture, and music. We take a look at the park and interview the owner, Mr Damon Papakiriakou, an artist, sculptor and musician.

Read more about Rhodes Art Park

The 5th Medieval Rose Festival of the isle of Rhodes 2011, will take place from 28 May to 2 of July (every Saturday and/or Sunday). Event will take place with the support and under the Aegis of the Municipality of Rhodes.

Read more about 5th Medieval Rose Festival

Feedback