02 Mar The Acandia Terreplein
The Acandia Terreplein
One interesting feature of Rhodes medieval town defences are the tenailles, called terrepleins at that time, which were built in the aftermath of the 1480 siege. These are made of solid earth and are lined on the outside with stone blocks. According to Housley, there was no European precedent for these structures, which Hospitaller Grand master d’Aubusson invented himself.
The Acandia Terreplein
One of these protects the south-eastern corner of the town, in the Jewish quarter. It was the scene of heavy fighting in the 1480 siege where the Ottomans broke through the wall. Thus it needed strengthening in case of another attack. The terreplain was originally one unit, but is now split into three to accommodate the modern road system. The part of the terreplain protecting the eastern wall runs from north to south and is 15m thick and 102m in length. At the southern end it juts out, allowing artillery to fire south, along the moat and across Acandia Bay.
The terreplein then turns westward, protecting the southern wall until the Bastion of Carretto. Altogether, it is 29m at its thickest and 87m long. Smith and DeVries have suggested the inner stone face may have been the original counterscarp. If this is so, then the moat’s width at this point was extended from about 15m to around 60m. The distance from the terreplein to the new counterscarp was about 23m. This created a formidable defensive structure that would dishearten any enemy.
This is one of four terrepleins on the landward side, protecting the town walls and grand master’s palace. They show the Hospitallers learnt from their experience of the 1480 siege. Successive grand masters continually upgraded the defences between then and the 1522 siege. There is also a terreplein on the seaward side, protecting the main harbour. It runs from Naillac Tower towards St. Paul’s Tower and is about 11m wide & 68m in length.
Norman Housley, The Later Crusades, 1274 – 1580: from Lyons to Alcazar, Oxford, 1992
Robert Douglas Smith and Kelly DeVries, Rhodes Besieged: A New History, Stroud, 2011
Photographs: Unless otherwise stated, all photographs are by the author.
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