Located in the south-east region of the Greek Isles, Rhodes is closer to Turkey than the Greek mainland. Many people recognize the name of Rhodes, because of something that was there a long time ago - a "wonder". The "Colossus of Rhodes" was a huge statue that stood at the entry of the harbor as a tribute to the Greek diety of Helios.
The statue actually stood for less than sixty years before it tumbled; a casualty of the earthquake of 226BC. But when it stood, the Colossus of Rhodes was impressive - over 30 meters high it was the highest of all statues during ancient times.
This statue of Helios was so impresive that it was chosen as one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.
I believe the reason most folks have heard of Rhodes is the Colossus.
When my family and I went ashore we hunted around until we found a cab driver who spoke english and had a good disposition, then the tour began.
As we were driving through the port we stopped at this church, which had an interesting carving on the outer wall of the campanile.
I shot this first photo from inside the taxi:
As I looked closer at the bell tower of the church, I noticed something familiar.
Anybody recognize this:
Yep! The Winged Lion is Venice's most elegant and classic way of saying "Kilroy was here" (an American graffiti which is believed to have originated in WWII).
I saw this and had to step out of the cab and change lenses.
I'm not sure exactly when this releif was put in place, but looking at it we can surmise a few things for certain:
Venice definitely ruled here once,
and when they did, they did so either by force, or without the cooperation of the people.
The Lion of St. Mark is always depicted holding a book.
In some cases the book is open, in others it's closed.
In Venice the book is always open unless you come upon something that was carved or printed during wartime - in which case the book is closed and the lion also brandishes a sword.
Outside Venice the Winged Lion can still be seen in places that were once Venetian territory.
I belive it was Bob Easton who explained to me that in places where the Venetian rule was welcomed, the book is open. But in places like Rhodes, the Winged Lion holds a closed book, signifying that while Venice came in and took control, the takeover wasn't exactly received with open arms.
Our taxi tour of the Island was great; it brought us to ancient ruins, cliff-hugging settlements of alabaster-white buildings, and the best gyros I have ever tasted. Before we left the port town I saw other Venetian iconography on the crowns of municipal buildings.
I'm pretty sure I'm only echoing the thoughts of many people now, when I say:
I can't help but wonder sometimes,
what it would be like if Venice had lived on.
If Napoleon had chosen not to bring it down,
or had failed in his attempt to defeat La Serenissima,
What would have happened?
Apart from all the speculation,
we know that Venice did once rule in Rhodes.
And when the Lion of St. Mark emblazoned the campanile of this church...the book was closed.