Kos is the island that gave the world Hippocrates, the father of
medicine. The third largest of the Dodecanese, it is long and
narrow in shape, mostly flat with two low mountains, Dikaio (875
m.) and Simpatro that run along its southern coast.
It lies south of Kalimnos and was first inhabited in the
Neolithic era. In 700 B.C., it joined together with Lindos,
Kameiros, Ialyssos, Knidos and Halikarnassos to found the Dorian
In the 4th century B.C., ns Asklepieion became famous as the
leading “hospital” of antiquity.
The capital, Kos, is situated in a verdant district on the
northeast of the island, at the back of an open bay. Around the
port you can still see the ruins of the ancient city and the
castle, built between 1450 and 1478 after the Knights of St.
John took over the island.
Excavations in the ancient city brought to light building
foundations of the Classical era (e.g. the Agora) and of
Hellenistic and Roman times (the Gymnasium, Odeon, Roman baths,
a Roman mansion with beautiful mosaics), sections of wall from
the ClassicaJ period, the foundations of a temple of Aphrodite
and another temple, probably dedicated to Heracles.
The rest of the town is modern and well – laid – out, with
contemporary buildings, hotels and avenues lined with palm
trees. In a lush area 4 kilometres west of town, you’ll find the
Asklepieion (Asklipiio) or Sanctuary of Asklepios. Its
buildings, owing to the slope of the site, stand on four
different terraces united by a marble staircase. The view from
the highest one is stunning.
The most important structure is the temple of Asklepios, a Doric
peripteral temple erected in the 2nd century B.C. Other
buildings include the Stoa (Colonnade), which housed
Hippocrates’ medical school and the Bomos or Great Altar (3rd
century B.C.), which was decorated with sculptures attributed to
the son of Praxiteles.
During your visit to Kos, it would be well worth your while to
visit the pretty villages, which are scattered round the island.
Among them are Asfendiou, 14 kilometres southwest of town, built
on the slopes of Mt. Dikaio overlooking the sea; Pili, further
south, with its ruined Byzantine castle and the Ypapanti church
within it; Andimahia, perched on a plateau in the middle of the
island; Thermes, with its hot springs and spa and Kardamena, a
seaside resort, both on the east coast; Tingaki (near the
airport), Marmari, and Mastihari, Kos’s second harbour, on the
north coast; and finally Kefalos on the southwest coast with its
splendid beach. The ruins of the ancient town of Astypalaia can
be seen at the district known as Palatia nearby.
You’ll find wonderful beaches all over the island. You can reach
the closer ones by bicycle, a popular means of getting around on