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

The castle of Monolithos was built on the foundations of another, older castle, and lies about 236m high on an amazingly difficult natural terrain, which made its construction even more challenging, near the village of Monolithos.

Topics: Castle, Monuments in Rhodes

Read more about Monolithos Castle

The Hospice of St. Catherine was built in 1391-92, under grand master Heredia, by the Italian Domenico d'Allemagna, admiral of the Order of the Knights of St. John (Knights Hospitaller). The founder was an important personage, disposing of considerable means.

Topics: Monuments in Rhodes

Read more about St. Catherine Hospice

The first traces of life on the island of Rhodes are lost in the fog of myth. The first inhabitants are said to have been the native Heliades, children of the protective god Helios and Clymene the Oceanid, and the Telchines, a strange kind of people who supposedly resembled demons. These were, according to tradition, skilled sailors and skilled craftsmen who taught the ancient Rhodians how to forge and process stone.

Topics: Historic buildings, History, Monuments in Rhodes

Read more about Rhodes history



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

When you are looking for top things to do in Rhodes, you may find that it is not that easy to pick out just a few options. There are so many different exciting and interesting activities and attractions, narrowing down your options my feel like a small challenge. Let us help you with a few interesting suggestions for top activities, things to do and places to visit on Rhodes.

Read more about Top things to do, places to visit, attractions and activities in Rhodes

After a whole month of filming, Oscar Holly, a long time fan of Rhodes since childhood, produced this magnificent video of the island showing a more raw and untouched and at the same time beautiful and accessible aspect of the island.

Read more about A Rhodos Story (vid)

An old promotional video from 1963. This story involves a tour around picturesque Greece. There are scenic shots of Rhodes and the surrounding sea, the narrator gives a history of the islands as we view them.

Read more about Rhodes, Island of the Sun (1963)

It's winter. You are sitting in your apartment or office, while it's cold outside and the weather is gray, dark and rainy, and you find yourself reading this article. Don't you wish you can go someplace where the winter weather is not necessarily so depressive?

Read more about Wintertime in Rhodes

2019 is another promising year for cycling events in Rhodes island. With the amazingly variable landscapes that can be friendly for beginners but at the same time advanced cyclists can find great challenges as well. Besides, what better location for a cycling event than a place blessed with more than 300 shinny days every year, where the local’s hospitality is routine and the famous Greek gastronomy approaches the peak of traditional tastes?

Read more about Rhodes cycling events 2019

The way in which food and sweets are prepared in the different areas of Greece, including Rhodes, repeated in the course of the centuries, spread from area to area and from household to household, has contributed to the shaping of Traditional Greek Cuisine.

Read more about Food in Rhodes: Gastronomy & traditional diet

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

Feedback