Ancient mole – dock

Significant remains of ancient fortification and port constructions are to be found to the south of the main entrance gate in the St Nicholas fort. The ancient wall, with knight-era additions, was the initial access axis to the main gate of the first construction phase of the fort.

The cobblestone dock which can be seen in old pictures is preserved under the natural boulders of the rock fill added during the 1960s in order to protect the fort’s eastern side, particularly vulnerable in the strong southeast winds and the huge waves they create. This intervention has altered the analogies in the fort façade at the sea’s side and has eliminated the ancient ornamental rock fill which could be seen around it.

Zacosta Fort

The elegant, and particularly advanced for its era, Zacosta fort is included in the core of the massive fortification constructions of the late 15th – early 16th c. It was probably constructed based on designs brought in from the West, as was common with the Knights; it has however been completely integrated in the area where it was built. This is proven by the intentional enforcement of the redoute width at the north-western, easily assailable from land area, as well as by the selective layout of the double “killers” in the areas where a possible assault from sea had to be dealt with.

Zacosta Tower

This is by far the most imposing tower of the city’s medieval fortification, with 17.30 m. diameter and general dimensions in proportion to those of the ancient fortification towers. At the same time, from a construction point of view, it is the most advanced cylindrical tower of the ports’ fortifications. Its morphological elements, with the abundant presence of marble pieces in secondary use, are quite original and are of high artistic value, as can be seen by the imposing style of its main entrance on the first floor of the tower, over which the frame of the Order’s coat of arms is preserved, next to that of the Duke of Burgundy, framed by two lions, as symbols of his power, and the coats of arms of the Great Master Zacosta. In the frame one can also see the relief of St Nicholas looking towards Myra, the Asia Minor town.

In its contemporary form, it retains elements of two important construction phases, before and after its partial collapse during the first extensive siege of the Ottomans led by Mehmet II the Conqueror in 1480. During its rebuilding, along with the decrease of its initial height, the vault building of the chamber was modified and the groin vaults supported by the remaining marble relief consoles were removed.

On the tower cupola there are still traces allowing for the graphic depiction of the tower’s initial form. Probably as soon as the late 17th c., the stone turret one of the oldest lanterns of the Mediterranean was added on the spiral staircase.

Movable drawbridge and tower-like entrance structure

The tower-like structure with the movable drawbridge in the main and only entrance to the first floor of the tower is distinctive, as it has to be noted that the floor level gate is a later addition which was made under the Italian rule. On the right side of the entrance there is a small area with the possible initial use of lavatory in respect to similar towers in Western Europe.

Main gate cover rampart (earlier than 1480)

This is a filled rampart of simple curved shape with the obvious aim of covering the initially exposed monumental gate of the redoute. During its construction the left of two symmetrically placed lozenge marbles with the inscribed monogram of Jesus Christ was removed and can be found today encased over the entrance gate of the knight chamber, the use of which has not been determined, on the right as one enters the fort, which had also been used as an Ottoman Mosque.

D’Aubusson bastion (March 1482)

The circumpolar bastion, the necessity of which rose following the experience of the 1480 siege, bears the D’ Aubusson coats of arms to the northwest, facing the Ottomans’ assault point. At the western and northern sides it contains a strong embankment and places for large firarms, while at the eastern it is limited to a simple wall with walkway and canon embrasures on the lower level towards the open sea.

Knight’s lavatories

This is an extremely interesting structure, the construction of which might be dated to the construction stage of the addition of the five intermediary domes complex.

Carretto parapet and intermediate domes

This is an addition which probably bears the stamp of the Grand Master Del Caretto era, during which Italian fortification engineers introduced fortification elements from the West, novel for Rhodes. The analogy of the firearms position to the intermittent domes which were obviously connecting the firearm platform with the especially shaped storing or replenishment areas between the tower and the redoute of Zacosta is obvious.

Turkish rule military quarters

The only example of buildings from the Turkish rule which was retained in the contemporary form of the building are the continuous cupolas of the garrison between the tower and the redoubt at its west side. The intervention of lateral bracing of the intermediary wall surface foundations permitted the simultaneous enhancement of the D’ Aubusson construction phase and the formation of a lower level, possibly of storage areas.