Some places just have to be explored. Between the casino and the port in Rhodes town is a spot we stop at for a frappé in the summer. It has a view of an old mosque and cemetery.
The Murad Reis Mosque Rhodes Greece
The mosque with it’s ornately decorated white minaret is called the Murad Reis Mosque and attached to it is the Turkish cemetery. Yesterday we finally decided to see if we could get in and wander around.

Author Lawrence Durrell once lived in house in the grounds and wrote:

It was in Rhodes where I spent such happy post-war years, locked into the sacred garden of Murat Reis. I was indeed living in a Turkish cemetery of such beauty and silence that I often longed to die and be sealed into one of those beautiful forms (from Lawrence Durrell and the Greek World)

With a description like that we had to go and look at it.

The mosque was built in 1524 just after the Ottoman conquest of Rhodes and is named after Murat Reis (or Murad there’s no definitive spelling) who was an Ottoman naval commander. Born in Rhodes to Albanian parents he is buried in the cemetery. His tomb is still there and for many years Ottoman sailors would visit for good luck on their voyages.

Entrance door to the cemetary Murad Reis Mosque Rhodes Greece
The entrance is around the other side facing the sea and carpark the building there was under renovation when we visited. It’s good to see a rejuvenation of the older muslim buildings in Rhodes. I must go back soon and take some new pictures as the building does look wonderful now. This may have been the house of the Mufti of Rhodes. Durrell described his landlord the Mufti as:

a meek-mannered man dressed in elastic-sided boots, who smokes his cigarette in an ebony cigarette holder (from Lawrence Durrell Reflections on a Marine Venus)

Going through an old wooden door you enter an outdoor corridor with buildings either side and then go into a courtyard.

cobbled court yard Murad Reis mosque Rhodes Greece
a cool place to sit Murad Reis mosque Rhodes Greece
There’s a quite atmosphere under the shade of the trees where 2 elderly Greek ladies greeted us with warm smiles and a kalimera. They appear to live in a corner of the yard and are probably responsible for the geraniums planted around.
geranium Murad Reis mosque Rhodes Greece
There’s a decayed elegance to the graveyard with its unique Turkish gravestones. The ones that have turbans are male and the more pineapple shaped ones are women. They are ornately carved and look long neglected. Living there from 1945 to 47 Durrell wrote that it was:

a forgotten graveyard full of sedate tombs… in a sad state of disrepair. Many of the tombs have fallen to pieces, and in places the loose drift of leaves has half obscured others. The majority of those who lie buried here are Turkish civil servants. A few are political exiles. (from Lawrence Durrell Reflections on a Marine Venus)

graveyard Murad Reis mosque Rhodes Greece
graveyard Murad Reis mosque Rhodes Greece
graveyard Murad Reis mosque Rhodes Greece
Now it’s a quiet spot the trees hide any noise from the road and block the view of the casino which was the British administration building in Durrell’s day.
Graveyard Murad Reis Mosque Rhodes Greece
Graveyard Murad Reis Mosque Rhodes Greece
Graveyard Murad Reis Mosque Rhodes Greece
Lined up outside one building where some traditional Ottoman bathing clogs called “nalin”. I don’t know if the building was a bath house?

An interesting historical note. The Mufti of the mosque during Durrell’s time was Suleyman Kasiloglou. There was a large Jewish community on Rhodes who came from Spain and brought many artefacts of the Jewish church with them. The 45.5 meter Torah scroll was one of their most precious religious texts. When the Nazi’s took Rhodes and were transporting the Jewish population to Auschwitz they entrusted the Torah to Suleyman.

It lay hidden under the pulpit in the mosque until after the occupation, when he returned it to the Jewish survivors. Thanks to the trusting relationship between Muslims and Jews at the time the Torah is now in the national library of Israel.

If you’ve got half an hour to spare and are looking for somewhere away from the tourists, take a wander around under the eucalyptus and escape the heat.

This post was first written in 2015, updated in 2018 and I’ll be going back to take some new photographs soon.

graveyard mosque Rhodes Greece
Have you visited the mosque area or do you plan to? If you enjoyed reading this and found it useful please comment and share. Thank you.

Olive, Feta & Ouzo

A travel & lifestyle blog with a focus on expat life. Written and photographed by Amanda Settle. 

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