The Asclepieion of Kos is built upon the slopes of hill clothed in lush flora and graced with beautiful views of the sea and the Turkish coast. It is the most important monument of the island and of the most important temples of its kind of antiquity. In the ancient times it was the place of worship of the god Asclepius, healing grounds for the ill and a school for the study of medicine. Hippocrates, one of the greatest exemplars of the medical profession taught in the school that he instituted within the sanctuary's area . In contrast to the more arcane sanctum of Asclepius in Epidaurus, its counterpart in Kos Island cultivated scientific medicine.
The Asclepieion of Kos, whose surviving ruins are dated to the 4th century B.C, is located 3.4 kilometers northwest of the city. The three successive terraces are dated to the Hellenistic years; their specific oriental style was probably adopted after Alexander’s conquests.
During the reign of the Ptolemys’ in 260 B.C a critical event marked the history of the monument. The Asclepieion was recognized as a Pan-Hellenic asylum for the preparation of the celebration of the Asclepieia. The pursuit of the islanders to offer asylum to those prosecuted, is a clear sign of how proud they were for their temple which they considered to be the center of their city.
The discovery of the Asclepieion took place in 1902 by the German archeologist Rudolf Herzog and the local history buff, Iakovos Zaraftis. The search for the site was strongly motivated by the fourth mime of Herondas “Women with dedications and sacrifices to the Asclepieion” in which he speaks with apparent admiration to Kos and describes images and statues from the temple. The excavations were carried on by Laurenzi (1930) and Morricone (1937-38) along with restoration works. It should be noted that many objects from the digs were poached away to Rome and Constantinople.
Tree of Hippocrates
Opposite the fortress of Neratzia, next to the ancient Αgora of Kos, one of the most ancient trees of Kos lays its roots: the plane tree of Hippocrates, a historical site visited by thousands every year.
According to tradition the plane tree was planted by Hippocrates 24 centuries ago. Under its shadow the great teacher instructed his students. The tree's perimeter reaches 12 meters and its hollow trunk is reminiscent of a cave. The surrounding area is a stone paved square leading to the castle's bridge. Two springs from the Ottoman times lie near the tree bearing an Arabic inscription that informs the passer by that their water is the water of Hippocrates.
The tree belongs to the species platanus orientalis L .and its age is thought to surpass 2.300 years. The diameter of the trunk is 4.7 meters wide at its base, and its perimeter stretches to 12 meters. The passage of time has left the trunk and some old branches rotten, under the influence of various fungi and wood eating moths leading to the presence of the said large hollow.
Archaeological Museum of Kos
The two storey bulding on Eleftherias Square that houses the Archaeological museum of Kos is a protected monument of the Italian occupation era (1912 - 1943), built in 1935.
It is considered a sample of the international style bequeathed by the Italian occupation to the atrchitectural history of Kos, although some view this as a sample of italian fascist monument architecture.
The museum boasts a rich collection of artifacts from antiquity, up until the late Roman era.
The most important sculptures and mosaics are on display in the ground floor and in the atrium of the museum. The western hall exhibits statues of the hellenistic era, most of which were found stored in the arcades of the Odeon.
The northern hall hosts the imposing statue of Hippocrates (4th century B.C.), a late Roman era wall mounted relief portraying a symposium, as well as funerary sculptures of the late archaic and classical eras.
Statues of Demetra, Kore and Athena dated from the mid 4th to the mid 3rd centuries B.C. can be found in the Northern hall of the museum. The Eastern hall exhibits statues of the Roman era, including a sitting Hermes and a statue of Demetra.
Finally, one more mosaic of the Hellenistic era from the excavation of the now restored Casa Romana, portraying the bottom of the sea adorns the northern wall of the peristyle.
The "Casa Romana", or the Roman Manor is one of the most interesting sites on the island of Kos.
In 1933 the great earthquake nearly destroyed the whole island. The Italians, who at the time of the earthquake were occupying the island, perceived the destruction as an opportunity to reconstruct the city's building plan, conducting numerous excavations, with the knowledge that beneath the leveled structures ancient monuments lay.
Laurenzi, the head archeologist was in charge of the excavation, with the Italian administration of the island conducting a full restoration project that lasted until 1940.
The site is a Roman Manor of the Pompei model, erected between the late 2nd and the early 3rd century A.D. Built on the ruins of an earlier Hellenistic house, with an excellent drainage system, the manor comprises 36 rooms and three atriums.
Its exterior view of the site does not prepare the visitor for what lies within. Walking through the main entrance one only begins to grasp the manor's beauty. There one encounters a statue's base bearing the inscription “ΑΠΕΛΕΞΙΚΑΚΟΣ” (he who repels evil). In the first atrium a small reservoir and a mosaic portraying a panther devouring a deer, of pristine quality, may be found. Nearly every room of the manor features stunning mosaics and beautiful decors. The manor's central room ("ανδρώνας") exhibits signs of orthomarmarosis and bear mosaic floors of geometric ornaments, depictions of tigers panthers and others. The auxiliary rooms are to be found in the northwest side near the stairs leading to the first floor. In every atrium one may find reservoirs of various sizes and mosaics of mythological and physical subjects such as the Niriyds or dolphins. Within the structure statues of nymphs, of Athena and a mosaic depicting the ocean bed can be viewed..
Roman Odeon of Kos
The Roman Auditorium is thought to have been one of the most crucial public buildings of ancient Kos. It was found by the Italian archeologist Laurenzi in an excavation conducted in 1929.
Erected during the 2nd century A.D it is believed to have taken the place of an older public building that could have been the parliament of the city.
Despite the auditorium being originally designed for hosting musical competitions, it was also used as the seat for the local senate.
The building was initially roofed and seated approximately 750 persons. Its cavea with a northern orientation was supported by arched constructions built on pillars of caster masonry (opus caementicium). It had fourteen rows of marble seats, nineteen of which have been restored, and was divided by a corridor into two sections; the cunei of the lower section were divided by four staircases. Under the cavea lied two semicircular porticos and a series of rooms used as shops or workrooms.
The form of the scene was unusual: an irregular pentagon made of two parts, the proscenium (front of scene) and the paraskenio (backstage), communicating thanks to three entrances. On both sides of the scene were two more doors leading to the parodoi (passageways). The floor of the circular orchestra was decorated with opus sectile (marble works), while mosaic floorings adorned the parodoi.
The inner galleries of the Odeon were decorated with marble statues initially standing in niches; the most notable is that of Hippokrates, today exhibited at the Archaeological Museum of Kos.
Today the auditorium hosts a number of cultural happenings. Moreover, within the Auditorium the exhibition of photography of the Aegean Institute of archeological studies is housed.