Kos Island: Combining Aegean Island Beauty with Rich History
Kos is the third largest island of the Dodecanese (meaning "Twelve
Islands" in Greek) complex, located south-east of continental
Greece and north-west of Rhodes.
Kos International Airport "Hippocrates" is the fourth largest airport in Greece, right after the new airport of Athens and the ones in Thessaloniki and in Crete, and the sixth busiest with daily flights from Athens and numerous direct charter flights from European cities during the summer .
Kos Island is ideally situated for a variety of excursions. There are numerous ways to travel to surrounding islands, which include Nisyros with its surreal landscape where you can walk right down to its volcano crater, Kalymnos the sea sponge diver's island with the unique mountain terrain, and the island of Pserimos with an amazing beach. Additionally, Turkey is only a half hour boat ride away with the Ancient Greek ruins of Halikarnasos.
The island is part of a chain of mountains from which it became separated after earthquakes that occurred in ancient times. These mountains include Kalymnos and Kappari which are separated by an underwater chasm 40 fathoms deep, as well as the volcano of Nisyros and the surrounding islands. Kos is mostly a flat island, with a single mountain range on its eastern side.
Kos town is the capital of the island. It is built around the gulf of Kos, located north-east of the island. Additionally, the island has a number of village’s which include Asfendiou, Pyli, Antimachia, Mastichari, Kardamena, Kefalos.
Kos is the birthplace of Hippocrates (460 - 370 B.C.), the father of modern medicine. The Tree (Platanos) under which he used to teach still stands in the centre of the Town, being the oldest in Europe and one of the oldest worldwide.
The town of Kos was founded in 366 BC, in the same area where modern Kos lays today. It climaxed during the Hellenistic and Roman periods, being a crossroad between civilisations, between East and West, the meeting point for both culture and trade. Its public market was of great fame during the antiquity and still is thriving in our days.
When entering the harbour of Kos town the imposing medieval Castle of Neratzia is bound to draw your attention. This castle is connected to the mainland by a bridge that crosses the Palm Tree Avenue, the same one that connects the Castle to the Platanos, the large plane tree under which Hippocrates used to teach.
All around Kos town you can find signs of the past, reminders of the civilisations that passed through its harbour. Numerous buildings, built in imitation of the Italian architecture of the colonies in N. Africa, most typical being the Town Hall.
The Archaeological Museum, located at Eleftherias square, exhibiting a wide collection of archaeological treasures, such as the mosaic of Hippocrates, the Hellenistic sculptures of Aphrodite, Eros and one believed to be of Hippocrates himself.
Another distinctive feature of Kos Town are the streets laid with palm trees. Moreover, the streets are wide, lined with trees and they are suitable for both cycling and walking. The street plan of the town is enviable.
The Asklepieion, located just outside Kos town 3,5 km north-west of the ancient city, is probably the most famous and important archaeological site on the island.
It is world-wide known as the centre of Hippocrates' Medical School, since it is the site of the first school of medicine, and Hospital built in the 5th century BC and there that Hippocrates used to practice medicine, it was there that the Hippocratic Oath was first told, a tradition that has been repeated thousands of times each time a new doctor takes its oath. It is until our days that the Hippocratic Oath can be heard every summer in the Temple of Asklepius, recited in ancient Greek, a practice that brings awe to all attendants.
Culture, history, nature, all together form the beauty of Kos. The wetland in Psalidi, a place of unique natural beauty await for you to feel the harmony, to experience the peacefulness and excitement of the contact with unspoilt nature. There you’ll feel the freshness of untouched beauty, you’ll see rare birds, hundreds of plants and long, gold beaches surrounding this small paradise.
Passed the beautiful wetland of Psalidi you’ll find Therma, a place named after the numerous hot springs of the area. Hot spring water can not only fill you with feelings of relaxation and harmony, but also help you in several health problems, since its rich sulphur content gives it great therapeutic value.
The Villages of Kos
Tigaki and Marmari are the first seaside villages you will meet when leaving the town of Kos. There you will find several beaches with crystal blue waters and warm, white sand. Passing Zipari village you see Asfendiou, a complex of picturesque villages up on the mountain, an environment warm, cosy and friendly, as all Greek villages are, anyway. And by all means, don't forget to watch the breathtaking sunset from Zia, where the sun seems to merge into the sea in a feast of colours and senses.
Kardamena is a village located 30 kilometres from Kos town and 5 kilometres from "Hippocrates" International Airport. There are many interesting archaeological treasures to be seen, such as the Temple of Apollo, the early Christian Basilicas and the Ancient Theatre. And since you’ll be needing some rest after sightseeing, Kardamena also offers beautiful sandy beaches with a variety of water sports and daily boat services to Nisyros, the neighbouring volcano island that you ought to visit. At summer time, at Kardamena's White Bait Festival, join locals at a tradition that promises a lot of dancing and incredible fun!
Moving on to Antimachia, a village 25 kilometres outside Kos town towards the central part of the island, you’ll see the Castle of Antimachia, the Windmill and the Traditional House museum, all of great interest. This village, carrying the same name for thirty centuries, also carries on several traditions, one of them being what else, a festival: the Honey Festival. Numerous family beekeeping businesses have made Antimachia famous for its delicious and extremely nutritious honey, something you’ll see for yourself, at the Festival!
Approximately 3 kilometres northwest of Antimachia lies the village of Mastichari, where one can find some of the most beautiful beaches on Kos. The port is always full with fishermen that provide daily the local tavernas with fresh fish. And guess what: Another festival, the Mastichari Wine Festival, where you should go if you love home made wine, local delicacies and Greek music. Mastichari is also your gate to the neighbouring island of Kalymnos, since daily cruises are available from the port of the village.
On the western edge of the island, 42 kilometres from Kos town, you’ll find the picturesque village that lies above the bay of Kamari, Kefalos and below that the islet of Saint Nicholas (Kastri). There are quite a few sites to be seen in Kefalos, such as the Basilica of Saint Stephanos, the monastery of St. John the Theologian, the ruins of Astipalea and the cave Aspri Petra.