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The castle of Kritinia (Kastellos), Rhodes

The castle of Kritinia (Kastello, for the locals) is a Venetian castle built in the 16th century on a hill about 131 meters above the village of Kritinia. It is fairly considered the gem of the village as it offers a breathtaking view of the Aegean Sea, the island of Chalki and the islets of Strogyli, Makri, Alimia and others.

Due to its strategic location, which allowed complete monitoring of the sea and thus, the activities of pirates and other enemies, the site was chosen by the Knights of the Order of St, John to build the castle. Originally, the castle was divided in three levels, each of them belonging to a different Grand Master.

The castle of Kritinia (Kastellos) © Rhodes Guide / RhodesGuide.com

In 1480, the Ottoman Turks sent 100.000 soldiers across Rhodes in an effort to invade and conquer the island with a big number of troops sent to Kritinia as well, attempting to seize the castle. However, regardless of the fact that the Turks outnumbered the Knights a lot, and after many bloodshed battles, the Turkish troops finally retreated, leaving the castle full of ruins and damages. Without wasting time though, the Knights engaged themselves to restoring the damages that the castle had sustained, bringing it back to its original form.

The castle of Kritinia (Kastellos) © Rhodes Guide / RhodesGuide.com

The castle of Kritinia (Kastellos) © Rhodes Guide / RhodesGuide.com
The castle of Kritinia (Kastellos) © Rhodes Guide / RhodesGuide.com

 

 

Only the shell of the castle still survives today. But above the rather disintegrated entrance of it, lie the coats of arms of two of the Grand Masters of the Medieval Era. The coat of arms of the Grand Master D’Amboise (1503-1512) and the one of the Grand Master Origny (1467 – 1476). Within the walls, there are also remnants of a chapel devoted to Saint John, where you can view amazing 16th century wall paintings.

The castle of Kritinia (Kastellos) © Rhodes Guide / RhodesGuide.com

Fortunately, and as the Greek Archeological Services had realized the importance of the castle, a reinforcement programme will take place in order to conserve and renovate the damaged sections of the castle and the church.

Location - how to get here:
The castle is located 48.6 km (approx. 1 hour driving time) from Rhodes Town. The hill on which the village of Kritinia and the castle are situated are on a bus route, however in order to reach the castle you would have to cross a little dirt road that leads all the way up to the castle, so maybe hiring a car would be a good idea. Also, you should bring comfortable closed toe shoes (like sport-shoes or trekking shoes) with you.

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I have been there twice and was just as thrilled if not more so the second time. The ruins of the castle in Kritinia, as visually captivating as they are, remind me that people can die taking selfies. Wear good shoes and be sober as a judge. Oh, and there is no admission but there is a quaint watering hole on the hillside where you park. Loved it!

Commented by Barbara July 11, 2019

I had the chance to visit this site. It is absolutely astonishing. the people in the area are very nice and there is a small museum about local culture nearby which is worth checking out. The ruins themselves are a nice stop. It is not an entire day excursion but the view is to die for and it is a nice place to get away from the touristy bustle of larger areas.

Commented by Bernadette Alloway February 24, 2016

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