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A + 20 : Farewell to Symi - Hello to Rhodes

Time to set sail to our last destination on this trip. We will reach Rhodes later in the afternoon. Venetian boats were always welcome in Rhodes and used the harbour on their way to Cyprus or the Levant. Usually, Venice and the Knights of St John were allied when fighting the Ottomans but the Venetian diplomates hated the casual way the Knights started hostilities and wars. Venice's relationship with the Ottoman Empire was complex. Both sides depended on each other. Venice was Europe's major distributer of Asian luxury goods. The same goods provided the Ottoman Empire with much of its tax revenue. Neither could live without or replace the other.

Saying farewell to Symi the next morning - It won't be the last time we will be here!

Ferries do not arrive in the morning thus we had the harbour all for ourselves

The arrival in Rhodes is almost unspectacular. The town is not visible from far - it is laying low by design actually.

The quarters of the various Languages of the Knights look great again - Mussolini spent some money rebuilding them during the 25 years the Dodecanese islands were part of Italy (1919 - 1944). It was done in a way that is impossible to say what is old and what was rebuilt. Anyway, it attracts tourists thus does its job

Rhodes would probably be a Greek island like any other had it not made its new town walls not made a significant contribution to the development of military architecture. It added three design elements which largely neutralised the effect of the guns which had breached the walls of Constantinople in 1453.

a) the gun bastions which allowed to take an attackers under deadly cross-fire

b) the sand or rubble filled fat walls which would absorb the kinetic shock of canon balls

c) the sunken walls which prevented the enemy from firing from a safe distance into the base of the walls thus collapsing them - enemy artillery had to be brought close and thus within the range of the defenders.

This was once a draw bridge into the St Athanasius bastion which was strong enough to carry guns to reek attackers in the trenches with deadly gun fire - usually shrapnel.

The fat first wall is protecting the main wall from direct gun fire

The walls were sunk into the ground to protect the base against gun fire from a distance

We see in Rhodes one of the first examples of the future star shaped fortresses which were perfected by Vauban, Louis XIV's chief engineer in France. It would change the look of most towns in Europe. It was also a deadly efficient defence. Suleiman the Magnificent had to deploy an army of 100'000 men to defeat 600 Knights and 4500 soldiers. It took him a gruesome six months and some sources say he lost half of his army.

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