The city of Rhodes, celebrating the 2.400 years since its foundation, is the capital of an island which had already been inhabited since the Neolithic Age. The island of Rhodes served as a bridge between the East and West and the North and South and soon became a commercial and cultural centre,its fame reaching the Heraclean Columns (the present Straits of Gibraltar). Although throughout Antiquity Rhodes tried to remain neutral by participating in various alliances, its naval strength and prosperity forced it to be continuously involved in numerous conflicts. Great schools were founded on the island and many artists, philosophers and mathematicians lived and created there. Its splendour continued through the Roman period, when illustrious Romans attended its schools. The island of Rhodes has always suffered greatly from earthquakes -to which it owes its emergence from the sea bed. The big earthquake of 227-226 BC destroyed not only the city of Rhodes, which however was rebuilt, but also the famous Colossus, the statue of the Sun god, protector of the island, counted among the Seven Wonders of the ancient world.