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Mandraki Harbour or “Limani Mandrakiou” is the stuff of legends, featuring in so many films, books and tales over the years. It served as the military harbour for the Knights of St John during their time as defenders of Rhodes Old Town and would have played host to their fleet that was used to mount sea-faring raids on non-Christian ships. The name “Mandraki” is derived from the Greek “mandri”, meaning a sheep pen, such is the oval shape of this sheltered and almost totally enclosed harbour.

With it’s two graceful Rhodian deer atop the columns that protect the harbour entrance, it’s easy to see why so many visitors head for the place. On the eastern harbour wall are three restored windmills plus the Fortress of Agios Nikolaos. This side also serves these days as the berths for the luxury cruisers and yachts that tie up here throughout the summer months.

On the western side there are several notable buildings including the open-air “agora”, a heptagonally shaped structure full more of bars and tavernas than fruit, herb and fish stalls these days, the Governor’s Palace, a fine fountain and the magnificent basilica of Evangelismos, built here after the devastating explosion in 1856 that razed the Palace of the Grand Masters and St John’s Loggia at the top of Odos Ippoton in the Old Town to the ground.

Further on up is the spectacular art-deco aquarium, built by the Italians in the 1930s and still in use today.

Although tourists abound, it is relatively peaceful here. If, like me, they too were standing in awe, looking at a place they’d always dreamed of seeing, then I can understand fully the tranquility and serenity that would serve to render one speechless.

The tour boats and ferries slip quietly from the harbour and cut a course through the clear blue water, their wash lapping gently aside the stone walls of the jetties. The heat of the cobalt blue sky bears down upon you and it becomes clear that this is one of the best and most beautiful locations anywhere in Greece.

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