Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Sea Gate, Rhodes

In the centre of the sea wall facing the Commercial Harbour is the Sea Gate or Porta Marina, the most imposing entrance into the town of Rhodes. It is flanked by two monumental, semi- cylindrical towers with splayed bases and crenelated parapets. Above the gate is a relief of the Virgin and Child flanked by St. John the Baptist, Patron of the Order and St.Paul. Beneath are the arms of the King of France, flanked by those of the Order on the left and Grand Master Fra' Pierre d'Aubusson on the right with the date 1478.

Sea Gate (1478)

The Sea Gate, the main entrance into the town was the setting  for the ceremonial reception of important visitors to Rhodes. One of the most celebrated occasions was when the Grande Nef du Tresor docked at the Commercial harbour on 29th July 1482 carrying Prince Jem son of Mehmet the Conqueror.  She docked at a jetty specially designed to permit  Jem to ride ashore on a horse. The jetty was covered with Persian carpets and cloths embroidered with gold and silver thread and the pier and streets were strewn with  flowers and petals.

It appeared that the whole population came out to witness the spectacle, lining the route of the procession  with Greek, Venetian, Genoese, Florentine, English, French and Flemish merchants as well as seamen from all over Europe. Many others watched from the rooftops and balconies of their houses keen to catch a glimpse of the son of  Mehmet the Conqueror. Prince Jem rode through the throng  on a beautiful horse presented to him by the Knights. Canon fired,  trumpets sounded, drummers played; and  the people cheered.

Arrival and welcome of the Turkish Prince Jem on Rhodes
(Caoursin, fol. 175)

Envoys of the Grand Master and his pages came down to the harbour  welcome Jem  and his entourage and escort them into the town through the Sea Gate and onto the piazza at the centre of the commercial quarter of the town, where the Grand Master  and the other knights were waiting. D'Aubusson mounted on a magnificent charger in the centre of a group of knights rode slowly to the centre of the piazza to meet Jem. The Grand Master with Jem at his side lead a cavalcade into the Collachium and along the Street of the Knights to the Auberge of France, an annex of which was used by the Prince for his historic stay on Rhodes.