Friday, May 11, 2007

Rhodes, Greece

Rhodes was our final port of call in the Greek Islands.

The old town of Rhodes is a well-preserved Byzantine wonder. Alleys and arches and castles and corners -- there wasn't time enough to explore it all.

We stumbled upon the Jewish synagogue and were treated to a fascinating tour by a South African guide with family roots in Rhodes. He related tales of the Jewish diaspora in Rhodes Town, a thriving community living in equable peace with the Muslim and Christian populations. That happy situation even lasted into the German occupation, until two SS officers vacationing here during World War II happened to overhear a Jewish child call to his mother in the Sephardic tongue.

Now, there aren't even enough Jews in Rhodes for a minyan, and they only hold a service in the synagogue when enough Jewish tourists show up to make the required ten men. All the Jewish community, including our guide's 100-year-old grandmother, were shipped out to the concentration camp ovens. The plaque lists the names of the families.

Architectural detail in Old Town

Holocaust Memorial

Ever been in a medieval knight's castle that looked this good?

This grand structure, the Palace of the Grand Master, was based upon the 14th century original. It was rebuilt as a palace for the King of Italy in the early 20th century, and later became a vacation residence for Benito Mussolini (though he never used it).

Sarah joined us for a scooter trip to see Rhodes' beaches.

On the beach...

Photography cannot capture the blue of the ocean in these parts!

Two for the road...
Miscellaneous factoid: Rhodes was Jolene's favorite stop on the cruise, followed by Santorini. (Hmmm... Could it be just a coincidence that those were the two places we rented scooters?)

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