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Rhodes(Greek: Ρόδος, Ródos, IPA: [ˈro̞ðo̞s]; Italian: Rodi; Ottoman Turkish: ردوس Rodos; Ladino: Rodi or Rodes) is a Greek island approximately 18 kilometers (11 mi) southwest of Turkey in eastern Aegean Sea. It is the largest of the Dodecanese islands in terms of both land area and population, with a population of 117,007 of which 53,709 resided in the homonymous capital city of the island.
Historically, Rhodes was famous worldwide for the Colossus of Rhodes, one of the Seven Wonders of the World. The medieval Old Town of the City of Rhodes has been declared a World Heritage Site. Today Rhodes is a tourist destination.
The island of Rhodes is shaped like a spearhead, 79.7 km (49.5 mi) long and 38 km (24 mi) wide, with a total area of approximately 1,400 square kilometers (541 sq mi) and a coastline of approximately 220 km (137 mi). The city of Rhodes is located at the northern tip of the island, as well as the site of the ancient and modern commercial harbors.
In the 1st century AD, the Emperor Tiberius spent a brief term of exile on Rhodes, and Saint Paul brought Christianity to the island. Rhodes reached her zenith in the third century, and was then by common consent the most civilized and beautiful city in Hellas. In 395, the long Byzantine Empire period began for Rhodes, when the Roman Empire was split and the eastern half gradually became a Greek empire. Although part of Byzantium for the next thousand years, Rhodes was nevertheless repeatedly attacked by various forces. It was first occupied by Muslim forces of Muawiyah I in 672. Much later, Rhodes was retrieved for the Byzantine Emperor Alexius I Comnenus during the First Crusade.
In 1309 the Byzantine era came to an end when the island was occupied by forces of the Knights Hospitaller. Under the rule of the newly named "Knights of Rhodes", the city was rebuilt into a model of the European medieval ideal. Many of the city's famous monuments, including the Palace of the Grand Master, were built during this period.
The strong walls which the Knights had built withstood the attacks of the Sultan of Egypt in 1444, and of Mehmed II in 1480. Ultimately, however, Rhodes fell to the large army of Suleiman the Magnificent in December 1522, long after the rest of the Byzantine empire had been lost. The few surviving Knights were permitted to retire to the Kingdom of Sicily. The Knights would later move their base of operations to Malta. The island was thereafter a possession of the Ottoman Empire for nearly four centuries.
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