Gate of Agios Athanasios (St. Athanasius)

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According to the coat of arms embedded in the fortification wall around it, the Gate of St. Athanasius dates back to the times of Grand Master Jean de Lastic (1437-1454), although the blazon of the latter’s predecessor, namely Grand Master Antoine Fluvian (1421-1437) had already been placed on the watchtower of St. Athanasius having stood in that same site. Watchtowers similar to the one of St. Athanasius may be seen at the bastions of Agios Georgios (St. George) and Agios Ioannis (St. John).
The Gate on the south-western flank of the fortification wall is protected by the Bastion of the Tongue of England, a key feature in the structure of the polygonal concept of the system of fortifications of Medieval Rhodes. A three level emplacement used to control the moat throughout the domain of watch of the Tongue of England. Under the rule of Grand Master Pierre d’Aubusson (1476-1503), two bulwarks came to reinforce the fortification around the Gate of St. Athanasius, giving the stocky bastion its actual, massive outlook. Right above the opening of the drawbridge there may still be seen the coat of arms of the House of d’Aubusson along with the inscription “hoc antemurale”, reminiscent of the commissioning of the bastion in 1487.
Quite typical is the set of blazons featured on the Zacosta bastion, at the level of the Fort of St. Nicholas, to the east of this particular Gate, since it is known that the coats of arms featured upon lion effigies are known to symbolize the authority of the prince and the might of the town as well as a reference to the victory of the Knights of the Order of St. John over the Ottomans, as of the 1480 conflict. An inscription in Farsi quotes reinstatement works of part of the bulwarks commissioned by the Ottoman Governor Abdülcelil, in the wake of the fall of Rhodes in the hands of the Ottomans, in 1522. It was then that the Gate of St. Athanasius was banned, to reopen only in 1922.

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