After the ottoman occupation in 1522, the Christians settled outside the walls in neighborhoods called “Marasia”. The areas that were granted to them were actually gardens and destroyed mansions and churches. Each neighborhood had its own church which it was named after. These neighborhoods are: Agii Anargyri (St. Kosmas and Damian), Agios Ioannis, Agia Anastasia, the Metropolis, Agios georgios o Kato, Agios Georgios o Ano and Agios Nikolaos. A new neighborhood was built later (Niochori) with its church, “The Presentaion of the Virgin Mary”. In the 18th century the Christians were given permission to build new churches. That’s when a new architecture style appears that can only be found in the Dodecanese islands and the southeast coastline of Asia Minor. The type was named “Dodecanese type basilica” and it imitates the gothic domes of the Knights.
1. Isodia tis Theotokou (The Presentation of the Virgin Mary) church in Niochori
It is on Mandilara street. It was built in 1719 and is an example of the Dodecanese type basilica. The church celebrates on November 21st. It also celebrates on November 14th as the church is also associated with the patron saint of Rhodes Town, Agios Constantinos o Ydreos.
2. Evangelismos tis Theotokou (The Annunciation of the Virgin Mary) church
It’s located in Eleftherias square on the port’s western side in Mandraki. It used to be St. John’s Catholic church and today is an orthodox church dedicated to the Annunciation of the Virgin Mary. It is a copy of St. John’s the Baptist church in Collakio. It is a three-aisled gothic basilica with a wooden roof in which the byzantine and gothic elements blend in with the characteristics of a type often appearing in Syria (when Syria was under the Franks occupation). The temple remains immutable on the outside while the interior was adjusted to the needs of the Orthodox denomination in 1947. The frescos were made by the byzantine hagiographer Fotis Kontoglou and his two assistants Ioannis Terzis and Pantelis Odambasis (1951- 1961 A.D.).
3. Panagia tis Nikis, also known as Sancta Maria
The church is in the central district of Niochori. The complex includes the monastery of the Franciscans of the Custody of the Holy Land who do pastoral work on the island. The monastery also has a guesthouse. The volunteers there come from different countries offer their assistance to those in need. During the Ottoman siege in 1522 A.D., the church – located within the walls of the Medieval Town– was destroyed and the Franciscans left the island along with the Knights of St. John. In 1719 the Apostolic Prefecture of the Franciscans of Constantinople re-established its mission in Rhodes and in 1743 a new church was built “Panagia tis Nikis”, mostly known as Sancta Maria. The new church was enlarged in 1851 and soon became the main Catholic church in Rhodes. Holy Mass is celebrated every day in various languages and the community often gathers there, particularly in St. Claire’s Hall, which was recently renovated by the parish priest with the help of friends and volunteers. On the left side of the church, you can visit St. Francis Nativity at Christmas time. Local people and tourists from all over the island come to admire it.
4. Church of St. Francis of Assisi
It is next to the Athanasious Gate and is the official Latin Rite Parish church of Rhodes. On September 20th 1936, in the presence of the Archbishop and the Italian Governor Lago, the foundation stone of the church was laid in place. The church, planned by architecture Bernabiti and built by engineer Vellini, was completed in 1939. This church is larger than Sancta Maria and it became the Parish church of the Franciscan Mission in Rhodes which at the time hosted many catholics. On Sundays and holidays, Holy Mass is celebrated in Greel. Thanks to volunteers, the faithful can follow Mass in their own language through brochures with the readings translated in 12 languages. After each Mass, Father Luke and his parishioners gather in the hall behind the church or in the garden for a moment of celebration. Some of the women take turns baking traditional cakes of their countries to offer with coffee. The church also hosts sacred music concerts. The first one was by the Italian organ player Stefano Pellini. The church was designed with wonderful acoustics and the sound starting from the altar goes to the end of the church and viseversa.