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In modern civilization, parks are recreational areas, as natural shelters of people living in an urban environment. But this was not always their only use, as the park’s function has changed, depending on the cultures.
Rhodes, as one of the first cities to be inaugurated and planned with an organized urban planning system, has been displaying a park of more than two thousand years of continuous use and life. The fate of Rodini Park is connected with the extremely rich multicultural activity of the city of Rhodes, receives influences and features of all the cultures that shaped the image of the capital of the island.
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Starting from the founding of the city in 408BC … The green area of the Rodini stream is included in the city plan and constitutes the natural boundary of Rhodes, combined with man-made boundaries: the walls and the necropolis. For the ancient Greek pagans, “animists” Natural wealth has a divine status and therefore does not accept human interference or exploitation. The holy groves reflect this belief. In all sanctuaries nature plays a primary role, while architectural interventions serve practical purposes and are optional elements. The religious significance of Rodini, as a space of spirituality, is confirmed by the formation of the nympheas from the Hellenistic period at least, dedicated to the protectors of Nature and its elements: Naiades, Yades, Amadryades, Oreades, Nereids and other. In the upper part of the park, the dialogue with the other world is oriented towards the ancestors, with a multitude of monumental tombs, among them so-called Ptolemaion (conventional name). With the nympheas and the funerary monuments, the artistic production in the park, wich will be a model, begins with the name “Rhodian Park” for the parks where natural beauty is complemented by human expression through art.
Because the contact with the nature favors spirituality, the great masters of the era begin to avoid the bustling arcades and markets of the centers, preferring to browse, undisturbed near the divine creation, the natural environment: it is the birth of the peripatetic schools. A peripatetic school establishes in Rhodes a student of Aristotle: Eudimos. It is also said that among the first to teach in Rodini is the orator Eshchinis (end of 4th BC) who came to Rhodes is a cosmopolitan capital that attracts representatives of philosophy, arts and sciences from the four corners of the Greek-Roman world. The great painter Protogenis (the only competitor worthy of Apelles), the astronomer Hipparchus (calculated solar year and distance Earth-Moon), the writer of the “Argonauts” Apollonius the Rhodian (born in Egypt) are few of the many of prominent ones that will make of Rhodes a center of culture and education. Among other students, Cicero, Julius Caesar, Cassius and Markus Antonius will come and take pride in passing the Rhodes faculties that provide the skills and prestige necessary for their political career. Favorable living conditions, the political neutrality of the island, which left great freedom of expression and high fees, attracted all those who formed the reputation of the island as a center of art and spirit at that time. During the Roman era, the combination of religious and spiritual use will be completed, which will continue until the Christian years, when it will become a monastic property. In the year of the Knight’s rule, Rodini gains new glory as the existence of the Grand Master’s villa is mentioned, while the exotism of the park with wild animals and birds impresses all visitors. During the medieval years, the first park of Europe on the nobles’ land are created for their hunts. The admirable animals and birds living in the park are sign of prestige for power, something that has continued to our day. The Ottomans, apparently influenced by Arabic sensitivity and aesthetics for the gardens that offer shelter of coolness and tranquility, respect and preserve the park. Some small interventions in the walls and the maintenance of the aqueduct confirm it. The archways of the base with Gothic arches replace a pre-existing Roman aqueduct and support Ottoman additions repaired by the Italians. The Italians, in the context of the program for the exploitation of the natural wealth of the whole island, will intervene decisively, shaping to a large extent the present image of the park.
This continuous use of Rodini reflects the collective mentality of every culture that will shape it. Here is the special value of this park that keeps alive the memory of a time when the natural environment is not just a place o recreation but also a spiritual culture and meditation. Dialogue between people, gods and ancestors trough ART that becomes a mean of communication between dimensions in space (material-spiritual) and time. The monuments (memories) of people (toms, nymphs) as landmarks, testify the places and the walks in combination with the vital elements of nature (earth relief, water, vegetation) without which there would be nothing.
Collective responsibility of our own time to decide what will ultimately be our contribution to this millionaire park…
Adrien Bordrez (Tourist guide)
Faithful copy of the flyer currently distributed at the park