How would one describe Rhodes? The island of the knights, the emerald island, the island of the sun? An architectural symphony of breathtaking buildings and landmarks? Perhaps it could all be summed up in one simple word: magic. This mysterious quality of enchantment can be felt in its luscious forests, on its golden beaches, on every street corner and in every “medieval” alley. A crossroads of nations and civilisations, Rhodes cast its spell on all: Phoenicians, Dorians, Persians, Venetians, Knights of St. John and Turks, just to name a few. They all left their mark.
The final battle for this corner of paradise took place in 1912 between the Turks and the Italians, bearing a new period of occupation that lasted until 1947, when Rhodes was incorporated into “Mother Greece”. Mario Lago, the commander of the Dodecanese at the time, wished to improve the tourism standards of the island, understanding the need for a service renaissance. In 1924 he commissioned the design of a deluxe hotel by the Venetian construction company, SAGAR, probably the largest of its kind at the time. The architectural trend during this period was a combination of Byzantine, Arabian, Ottoman and Venetian lines and was thus applied to this structure. The construction was undertaken by the company G. SPAINI – M. URBAN.
On the 26th of March 1925 construction began and after a little more than two years, on the 24th of May 1927, the spectacular inauguration ceremony took place in the presence of local authorities and important personalities from Italy and Egypt.
A legend was born. This masterpiece was named the Grande Albergo delle Rose, Italian for Grand Hotel of Roses, attributing its name to the glorious rose garden found on its premises. Rhodes had acquired one of its most historic and symbolic structures, being the allegro of the unique architectural composition. Needless to say, the hotel contained the best that technology had to offer, the finest furniture from famous houses such as PUCROT, ZANIOL and PALEARI, and the most sought after comforts and amenities, as well as a casino that was officially opened in 1929. On the 22nd of November 1936 a new commander of the Dodecanese was appointed. Cesare Maria de Vecchi Conte di Val Gismon was not very fond of the architectural design that his predecessor used and demanded that immediate renovation be done on all buildings.
This, of course, applied to the Grande Albergo delle Rose, being subjected to a more modest and simple line called, “rurale”, similar to its present form. In 1937, the hotel’s administration was taken over by the Italian hotel company, SAVIA and the casino was taken over by the companies SAN REMO and CAMPIONE (still in existence today).
The Grande Albergo delle Rose was christened the “Dream of the East”, as it became the top attraction of the international jet set of the time. Eleftherios Venizelos, Aristotle Onassis, Constantine Karamanlis, George Papandreou, Winston Churchill and Moshe Dayan are but a few of the great names to have graced the halls of the hotel with their presence. Many historic events took place at this hotel, one of the most important being the signature of the foundation of the State of Israel in 1948.
After the incorporation of the Dodecanese into “Mother Greece”, the Grande Albergo delle Rose offered its services to the Greek State. In September 1955 its administration was given to the company Astir S.A and then eventually conceded to the Municipality of Rhodes. A glorious and enviable era came to an end when the doors of this hotel were closed in the mid 1970’s.
Casino Rodos S.A. eventually undertook its usage in the beginning of 1999, promising to give back the glamour, beauty and distinction that it epitomised in the past. This promise was upheld with the rebirth of the legend, the Grande Albergo delle Rose, which will certainly create a new era for itself by continuing on the same brilliant path of the past and uphold the revolutionary standards that it has set for the service and tourism industry.
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