live blog: but first ….

A pit stop at the ancient town of Lindos, on the southern coast of Rhodes opposite the Old Town. Once one of the most important cities in classical Greece, Lindos grew to prosperity under the Knights of St. John. So much of medieval Lindos has survived that the town has been declared a national landmark; the streets a maze of continuous buildings with ornate carvings and pebbled alleyways which windingly bring you – almost imperceptibly – to what I’m most excited to see: the ancient acropolis.

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live blog: the hippocratic oak

 

In front of the imposing castle of the Knights of Saint John on the island of Kos stands an enormous plane tree, spindly, ungainly and estimated to be the unusually august age of 500 years old. (plane trees, I have since learned, tend to meet their demise around the century mark.) Propped up by skeletal scaffolding it’s known as the Tree of Hippocrates and is descended from a tree first planted by the famous Greek physician – often called the father of Western medicine – who in the 5th Century BC taught his students under its shade. Given that Hippocrates is generally credited with being the first person to believe that diseases were caused naturally and not due to superstitions or the petty cruelty of the gods, this living monument seems altogether more fitting than anything man-made.

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live blog: knights of the rhodes table

The biggest medieval city in Europe, the picturesque old town of Rhodes is an unexpected delight. A rabbit’s warren of narrow streets and buildings of traditional architecture, much of the town as it appears today was built by the Knights of St. John at the end of the Byzantine era. Following the conquest of the Holy Land by Islamic forces, the crusading Knights retreated to Rhodes, over which they claimed sovereignty, fortifying the northern tip of the island with the castle, towers, bridges, and gates that still stand. The Knights would later move again, weathering a name change and establishing a more famous state on the island of Malta. What they left behind saw an invasion of the Turks, who built mosques, public baths and mansions for the new patrons, followed by Italian colonizers after the fall of the Ottoman Empire, and British bombs during World War II. A UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1988, it’s a minor miracle so much of the town’s architecture has managed to survive 700 years of relentless give and take. For that, the flaneur in me was quite grateful this afternoon.

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