On Saturday November 4th, 2018, in the expansive and majestic hall of the Palace of the Grand Master in Rhodes, Greece, the city celebrated the 30th anniversary of the inscription of its medieval town on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
Under the high vaults of the Palace of the Grand Master occupied by the Knights Hospitaller in the 14th century, the Major of Rhodes, Mr. Fotis Chatzidiakos, welcomed the audience and recalled the rich and intricate history of the fortified town.
From its foundation in 408 B.C. by inhabitants from the neighboring cities of Ialyssos, Kamiros, and Lindos, passing through the Romans and Byzantines, the Genoese, the Venetian and Crusaders, the Ottomans and the Italians, Rhodes is an enigmatic symphony of cultures at the crossroads of east and west in the Dodecanese Islands.
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A noble city with the beating heart of its magical and turbulent past, a present colored with hanging bougainvilleas on every square and ancient building. A myriad of secrets waits to be told on each of its narrow cobble stone streets.
On the same day another important event took place in the Grand Master’s Palace: the signing of the Referendum of the Convention of Cooperation between the City of Rhodes, and several Greek Ministries and Governmental Institutions. The Convention of Cooperation was originally designed to allocate a budget for the preservation and maintenance of the Medieval Town in Rhodes but after the Olympic Games of 2004 and the associated expenditure, the Convention had to be put on hold.
“This is an historic event,” said Mr. Teris Chatziioannou, Vice-Mayor of Rhodes for Culture and Medieval City. “After 14 years we are gathered here today to sign again the Convention of Cooperation. It’s an of event of enormous significance for the City of Rhodes.”
The Referendum on the Convention was signed by the Mayor of Rhodes, Mr. Fotis Chatzikiakos, the Minister of Shipping of the Hellenic Republic, Mr. Nektarios Santorinios, the Governor of the South Aegean Region, Mr. Giorgos Chatzimarkos, and the Deputy Minister of Culture and Sports of the Hellenic Republic, Mr. Constantinos Stratis.
“I want to thank all the efforts all of you are putting into preserving this magnificent town,” said Mr. Giorgos Chatzimarkos, Governor of the South Aegean Region. “Because the task of preserving this town for future generations is crucial. It goes beyond all of us. And that’s whey we’re here today to sign this document.”
Throughout the day other important talks were to take place, including those addressing challenging topics such as over-tourism related to cruise ships calling at World Heritage port cities; conservation, management and sustainable development of historic cities; and a vision for a sustainable future.
Also attending the ceremony were the Mayors of Kotor, Vladimir Jokic, the Deputy Mayor of Split, Jelena Hrgovic, the Vice-Mayor of Byblos, Mr Julien Zgheib, and Mr. Denis Ricard, Secretary General of the Organization of World Heritage Cities, among many other guests.
“Rhodes was one of the founding fathers of the Organization of World Heritage Cities,” said Mr. Ricard in his opening speech. “Back in 1991 in Quebec City, when the first International Symposium of World Heritage Cities took place, the City of Rhodes was represented. And also ten years later, in Puebla, Mexico, when Rhodes was selected to be the host for the VII World Congress. So many reasons to celebrate today in the beautiful city of Rhodes.”