History of Dodecanese islands
Many historic events have taken place in Dodecanese complex. The fact that is in a great geographical position, many conquerors wanted to have the occupation of the islands through the ages.
At the classical period there were the Persian wars, where the islands were captured by the Persians for a brief period until Alexander The Great swept through and defeated them. Following the death of Alexander, the islands, and even Rhodes itself, were split up among the many generals who contended to succeed him. In the same period, the famous Colossus of Rhodes was built, a huge monument that describes well the wealth and prosperity of the place. Rhodes signed a treaty with Rome, and the islands became aligned to greater or lesser extent with the Roman Republic while mostly maintaining their autonomy.
In the first century, Saint Paul and Saint John visited Dodecanese islands and they succeeded in converting them to Christianity. Saint John stayed at Patmos island as he was exiled there and he wrote the Revelations.
At the middle ages, when Roman empire split into west and east divisions, the islands became part of the Eastern part, which later evolved into the Byzantine Empire. They would remain there for nearly a thousand years, though these were punctuated by numerous invasions.
Copious evidence of the Byzantine period remains on the islands today, most notably in hundreds of churches from the period which can be seen in various states of preservation.
Finally, in the 14th century, the Byzantine era came to an end when the islands were taken by forces of the Knights Hospitaller (Knights of St. John): Rhodes was conquered in 1309 and the rest of the islands fell gradually over the next few decades. The Knights made Rhodes their stronghold, transforming its capital into a grand medieval city dominated by an impressive fortress, scattered fortresses and citadels through the rest of the islands as well.
However, the citadel at Rhodes fell to the large army of Suleiman the Magnificent and the other islands were overrun within the year. The Ottoman’s rule lasted hundred of years when it finally ended at 1822, as the declaration of independence followed and Dodecanese islands joined briefly the Greek provinces.
Early 1900s, Italy wanted to apply pressure to the Ottoman government in order to get closer to its metropolitan territories and they declared war to Ottoman Empire during the first world war. After some agreements between Greece and Italy, all Dodecanese islands joined Greece except Rhodes island. Mussolini was hoping to make Rhodes a modern transportation hub that would serve as a focal point for the spread of Italian culture. Additionally, during World War II, Italy joined the Axis Powers and the islands briefly became a battleground between the Germans and Allied forces. However, the islands never had any catastrophe in their buildings or the general infrastructure during the last wars in the area.
Nowadays, we can admire the remains of all civilizations who were established in Dodecanese or passed through them, making the islands a very good destination with rich history and many places to “travel back to time”.