Friday 16 May 2014

d'Amboise Gate, Rhodes

The most impressive gate in the fortifications of Rhodes was built by Grand Master Fra' Emery d'Amboise and completed in 1512. The d'Amboise Gate is in the north-east of the town, beneath the Palace of the Grand Masters and was the point of entry from Pheraclos, Lindos and the west of the island.

 The d'Amboise Gate is approached by a road that crosses a bridge of three arches that span the moat.  The gate is defended by two massive cylindrical towers, and it is afforded further protection by covering fire from  the powerful St George's Bastion to the south.

The d'Amboise Gate was not only the most monumental of Rhodes's gates, it led to the most complicated entry into the town that comprised three separate lines of defence.  Within the thickness of the wall the vaulted road makes an S-bend, passes through a second gate, crosses an exposed terreplein, crosses a second moat over a further bridge, and finally, passes through the third gate before entering  the town.

Above the entrance is a marble plaque with a relief of an angel holding the coats-of-arms of the Order and of Fra' Eylon d'Amboise with the inscription: DAM-BOYSE MDXII. After damage sustained in the Siege of 1480 the gate underwent repairs during the rule of  Grand Masters del Caretto and de l'Isle Adam whose coats-of-arms are also on display.

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.