Monolithos Castle
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The Castles without the Knights

Rhodes is a hub for medieval history enthusiasts, notably for its affiliation with the Knights of Saint John. The island boasts well-preserved fortifications and castles, mainly concentrated in the Old Town. However, some, like the Monolithos Castle, require a car journey to the southwest of the island, close to a village sharing its name. This village, nestled at the base of a gigantic monolithic rock, is known for its quaint cobblestone streets and traditional homes, housing a small community of 350 residents.

Monolithos Castle: Historical Landmark or Panoramic Viewpoint?

Perched atop a cliff, Monolithos Castle stands 236 meters above the Aegean Sea, offering stunning vistas of the surrounding area and coastline. Its dual purpose: to keep watch over South Rhodes, with visibility extending to the neighboring isles of Chalki and Alimia, as well as the shores of Asia Minor; and to safeguard the inhabitants of Apolakkia village from seaborne adversaries. Throughout its history, the fortress has never fallen into enemy hands.

Once considered among the top four man-made marvels of Rhodes, the site initially featured a Byzantine fortification. With the ascendancy of the Knights Hospitaller of the Order of St. John, they fortified the existing structures. A closer look at the weathered coat of arms at the entrance reveals that the fortress, crafted in Venetian style, was completed during the tenure of Grand Master Pierre d’Aubusson (1476–1503).

The once formidable castle on Rhodes became obsolete after the Knights departed and the Ottomans took control. Over time, it fell into disrepair. Today, remnants of its past glory can be seen in the partial walls, remnants of towers, and colonnades that still stand. Within these ruins, the strikingly white St. Panteleimon Chapel endures, originally built in 1476. Locals claim that its appearance, crafted from natural stone and lime, has remained unchanged for centuries. The chapel also serves as a sanctuary for the saint’s relics.

The capital city of the island is 74 km away from the village, with an additional 3 km to the fortress walls. Visitors can reach the village by car, with several parking options available on-site. For those opting for public transportation, it’s important to book accommodation in advance as there’s only one bus service per day. The bus departs from RODA Bus Station at Averof 2 at 1:30 PM, and returns the following morning at 7:25 AM.


  1. Caution Advised: The area lacks barriers, posing a slip risk on the pebbly terrain in inclement weather.
  2. Direct vehicle access to the castle is not an option. Parking is off-site, requiring a trek along a trail followed by ascending a steep staircase of about a hundred steps.
  3. Beneath the towering cliff that cradles the Castle, a charming beach adorns its southern face, presenting a scenic spot for relaxation.