Kos - the third in area (290 sq. km) and the second in population size (31 thousand people) island of the Dodecanese archipelago. It has an elongated, extending from east to west form. The beach of Turkey located only 5 km from the eastern coast of Kos. Here, on the east coast, is the only city in the island - the city of Kos.

Island map
Click at the part of the island to jump to its description.

The landscape of the island, except for its extreme western part, differs from the usual one in the Greek islands. The mountain range Díkeos extends in the south-east along the coast, and the remaining area is a rather flat plain. Only a peninsula in the west Kos, separated from the main part of the island with a narrow isthmus, include, as expected, hills and ravines.

Kos is a birthplace of Hippocrates. The founder of the medical school and the author of the famous oath was born here in 460 BC. According to legend, Hippocrates was a descendant of the god of healing Asclepius, the ancient temple which is one of the main sights in the island.

After landing at the port, the first thing we met a representative of the hire office "Holiday autos", who were waiting for us; we paid for 8 days of car hire Fiat Panda, loaded our bags and drove off. Soon we drove out to the island's main road that runs along its inland areas from east to west. The end point of the whole road and our trip is the village Kefalos, located in the western part of Kos.

Our apartments "Kefalosbay Residence" located on a hill near Kefalos. Of all the places of our accommodation, most of all we wanted to get just here. The apartment consists of two two-storey houses; an apartment occupies an entire floor, so the hotel has only 4 apartments. Nearby there is a house of landlord Konstantinos, pleasant and responsive man. There is also a nice small pool with Jacuzzi.

The rooms are performed in modern design: glass, plastic, metal. The exterior walls are made of glass panels with sliding doors. There is a bedroom, living room with kitchenette, bathroom with bathtub. In the apartment on the ground floor there is also a small room where you can set the bed and used as a bedroom, which we did. The living room has a table, sofa, kitchen with electric stove and microwave, TV with satellite channels. There is internet access via Wi-Fi.

From the territory of apartments, there is a wonderful view of lying below Kefalos bay, especially beautiful at sunrise.

Click the images to enlarge them.

Of the seven days that we held at Kos, two days were devoted to visiting the nearby islands: Kálymnos (on my own) and Nísyros (with excursion). The rest of the time we travelled along Kos.

The description of sights we visited in Kos will be given as usual, on a geographical principle, but this time, due to the small size and elongated shape of the island, we will not move along the coast in a circle, but along the main road from east to west. The division is: Kos City, East and West.


Kos City

The excavations remaining from the classical era occupy large area in the center of Kos City. This resembles Athens, though in much smaller scale. In addition, as in Rhodes City, there is also a picturesque seafront and a knightly fortress and mosques with minarets.

If you enter the city from the west on the main road of the island and nowhere to turn, you will soon reach the streets of Gregory V. On the right, among the wasteland, there are several free parking lots. From here, we begin our walk through the city; all the more, some of the sights are right here.

Not far from the street, there is quite a large square building with no windows. This is Casa Romana - the Roman House. Thus, on a concept of Italian restorers of the first half of XX century, must look to the Roman villa of III century. The house has dozens of rooms (it was written somewhere 36, somewhere else 26, I did not calculate) and 3 open courtyard (atrium) with a bathroom for a fountain in each. It is interesting the floor mosaic with images of animals, mostly feline predators. Here and there are the remains of ancient walls with murals. The vacant lot in front of the house is dotted with parts of columns and other fragments of ancient buildings.

Passing a bit along the road to the west and turning to an alley, we find ourselves at a beautiful Italian church.

Further along the street to the west, there is the Odeon - the ancient theater, built in the II century AD and for the most part renewed. In any case, the whole of upper, exterior part of the structure (a stage, spectator's seats) shines with modern polishing. Only the base of the theater, hollow inside, has the appearance of archaeological antiquity. The inner space consists of a corridor and several rooms. All this is something like a museum with free entry, but instead of exhibits, the rooms are filled with information stands with detailed describing of the history of the Odeon and its restoration. Close to the theater under an awning, there is a well-preserved mosaic floor.

Let us cross the street and we get to a big vacant lot with the ancient ruins - a territory of the Western Archaeological Site. A little to the right, we come to the remains of ancient buildings with partially preserved walls and mosaic floors. One of the mosaics depicts the "Abduction of Europe".

But in front of us, there are the remains of ancient buildings of various epochs. The Early Christian basilica is one of them. The gymnasium Xistón is another one, earlier (II century BC). The row of 16 columns, four groups of four remained from it. At the far end of the site under an awning, there is another mosaic floor.

On the territory of the site, an only undestroyed building stands out - Nimféon. The square building was closed, although you can watch the interior through the window. Italian archaeologists in the 30-ies of XX century, according to the fashion and tastes of their own "restore" this magnificent temple of the goddesses and nymphs. Later, however, it became clear that the ancient building was used not as a temple, but as a public toilet.

Let us rise from the level of antiquity to the level of modern city, and continue to go on the way to the north towards the waterfront. Along the way we will meet a small church that settled in the shade of trees.

The embankment of Kos surrounds the closed bay of the city. As expected, it is paved and planted with palm trees, which give it though beautiful, but fairly standard appearance. Anchors are exhibited as monuments. The pleasure boats offer excursions to the neighboring islands; one of the most popular is called the "Three Islands" and includes a visit to the islands to the north of Kos: Kálymnos, Psérimos and Pláti.

It is especially nice on the embankment in the evening. We were there at that time in the day of our departure, since the port is near. It was the election day, a brass band played somewhere on the other end of the embankment and the music was spread all over the neighbourhood. All this, in aggregate with lights of the city that was sinking into the twilight, with reflection of the lights in the bay, made an unforgettable impression.

From the east, the fortress limits the bay. The place where it joins the rest of the city formerly was a strait, then it was filled up and now here runs the Palm Avenue. As the name implies, tall palm trees grow on both sides of the street. However, this is not what I would call an avenue; the road is short and only connects one embankment to another.

There is a wall at the right side of the street, in the wall there is a doorway. We go up the stairs and get on a small square. Before us, there is one of the main sights of Kos - the Hippocrates Tree (plane tree). Hippocrates gave the lessons of medicine to his disciples here. Tree trunk, apparently, once broke into pieces, dried parts were removed; the remained stem segment is about half of its full circle without a core. Nevertheless, these remnants of the wood give a lot of thick, spreading and covered with dense foliage branches. The plane is surrounded with the construction of iron beams, intended for the support of these branches. The age of the tree is unknown, but because of the lack of a core, I think this will remain so.

On one side of the tree there is a plate with inscriptions in Arabic character, which was placed by the Turkish governor of Kos in the second half of XVIII century Ghazi Hassan. Nearby there is a mosque with a minaret of his name (Lodzia).

Let us proceed on a bridge across the Palm Avenue to Neratziá Fortress (in translation - the wild orange tree), built by the Knights of Saint John Order. The admission fee is 3 euros. At the entrance, as well as in some other places of the inner area, there is a large number of decomposed parts of columns and other structural elements of ancient buildings, the remains of statues. Apparently, all this was once used as a building material for the fortress. In addition to the external walls and towers, there are internal walls and towers, the earlier (XIV century). Later (end of XV - beginning of XVI centuries) the fortress was expanded to its present limits. The views of embankments of the city and the port open from outside the towers.

Then we return back to the square with the Plane tree. Behind it and behind the Ghazi Hassan Mosque there is another spacious archaeological site, the Eastern one or Port one or Ancient Agora in honor of one of the buildings that used to be in this place. Formerly there was a covered market with a colonnade of 80 to 300 metres, built in IV - III centuries BC. There are two columns that remain. In addition, there are the remains of temples of Aphrodite, Dionysus, Heracles, the remains of ancient dwellings. There are preserved parts of the walls, a few columns, mosaic floors. The administrative center of the ancient city was here. The information boards placed on the territory of the site everywhere.

Let us pass on through the city. One of the most beautiful places is the Elefterias Square (of Liberty). There are Deferdar Mosque, Archaeological Museum and the market. Behind the building of the market, at the highest point, there is a large Church of Saint Paraskevi.


Kos, the East

Even within the city limits, from the island's main road that runs to the west, the turn to the left goes towards Asklipío - the archaeological site of ancient temples, the chief of which is devoted to the healing god Asclepius.

The territory of Asklipio located on three terraces connected by stairs. This planning, as well as most of the ruins belongs to the III century BC. Before the first terrace on the left is fairly well-remained building of the Roman baths of the II century AD. There are niches in the wall under the first terrace; a tombstone was placed in one of these niches with an inscription in honor of one of the local ancient doctors. On the second terrace, there are two temples (one of them, perhaps dedicated to Apollo) with remained columns. At the top level, there is the temple of Asclepius; to date, only the foundation remained; the rest is a pile of fragments. There are the information boards at each level.

Near Asklipio on the hillside, there is an alley that recently built of bright white gravel, it has young trees of laurel and cypress and strange monuments. The panorama view of Kos city and the surrounding area opens from here. This view is used by firemen too; they watch from above and look for hotbeds of fire. The village of Platáni lies between the hill and the city, there is the Muslim community and operating mosque.

All-round panorama from the hill near Platani village

Concerning views, we have already a habit to drive in their search on each island as high as possible, until the road allows. Kos was not an exception. It is in these places in the south-east of the island, the roads can climb quite high. Here, along the southern coast of the island, the mountain ridge Díkeos extends almost to the Kardamena.

The first stop on the way up was a constantly burning dump. The further road looked passable, and we went higher. We reached the edge of the ridge, and the southern slope began to be seen. A little higher - and the road ends with a fence and signs prohibiting photography of the object. Here at the top, it takes only to get out of the car, and a strong wind nearly blows off into the abyss, but what a wonderful view from here.

In the south-eastern coast of Kos, there is the only accessible attraction - the hot springs, Thermes. Of course, it's not possible to get there from the mountains, so we are back in the city and go to the south along the coast. We pass the resort villages of Paradísi, Psalídi, Ágios Fokás, go around the mountain from the south and pass almost to the end of the road (the end of the road is a dead end). At the parking area, you can see "wild" goats lured by tourists. They are not afraid of man, come up to cars for food and almost eat from your hands.

To get to the springs, you need to go down from the considerable height (about 30 metres), to walk along firstly the rocky part of the shore, then the beach.

Thermes is a round natural pool on the beach, fenced from the sea with stones. The fence is not perfect and let the sea water pass in the pool, so the water is mixed and has the different temperatures in various parts of the pool. Most heat is in the part that is closer to the cliff; the majority of bathers are concentrated there. In the rock there is a niche, in which only one person almost entirely can swim in. This is where the hottest water without the see admixture. From time to time one of the bathers swim into this niche for some time, I was one of them. It is hot, but bearable. All the bathing, as it should be in such cases, is accompanied by the smell of hydrogen sulfide.

Let us return to the main road. After the large settlement Zipári, a number of turns to the right go towards the resorts of the northern coast of the island: Tingáki and Marmári. There are long beaches of fine white sand in both. It is believed that the sea of the northern shore is often more wavy and it is a great place for surfers. However, when we were there the sea was calm and perfect for swimming, not for surfers. Between Tingaki and Marmari is a shallow salt lake.

Driving along the roads of the island, you notice the landscape, so typical for Kos, and not typical for the rest of Greece: broad flat meadows, where one by one here and there, cows grazing. Only the silhouette of the mountain Dikeos is visible at a distance.

On the northern slope of the mountain there are a number of villages, to get to which you can by turning off the main road. You can also follow the road that passes along the mountainside, and connects these villages to each other. It begins as a continuation of the road to Asklipio, goes up the hill, and dodges there among the pine forest, sometimes opening the panoramic views over the plains of the island and the sea.

First stop - at the deserted village of Ágios Dimítrios. Only the church remained intact; a magnificent view opens from the churchyard.

Then the road leads us to the village of Ziá - the place of sightseeing buses stop, and therefore the section of road that passes through the village, is surrounded by souvenir shops. It was written that they come here to watch the sunset, sitting in one of the local restaurants. From the turn of the road, another remarkable view opens. After rising slightly above and after leaving the tourist area, you can go to the Church of Mother of God with amazingly beautiful interiors.

Further the road goes down and leads to the village Lagoúdi. Here is another Church of Mother of God, the blue dome of which adorns the landscape, overlooked from the Zia village.

Passing a little further, we find ourselves at the place that resembles a small park with benches in the woods. Just going down from the road, we come to a water spring.

Somewhere in this place must be the turn in the direction of the abandoned village Palió Pylí (Old Pyli) with a fortress of the XIV century. However, unfortunately, we did not find this turn and missed it.

The road descends even lower, and enters into a large picturesque village of Pylí, lying almost on the plain. There are several churches here; we were inside one of them - the big Church of Saint Nicholas with painted walls. Not far from it on a small square, there is a stone structure some sort of pedestal; the springs flow out from lions' heads, which are in walls of this structure.

Following in the southern direction, we can get from Pyli to Kardámena; the winding road passes the foot of the western slope of the mountain and opens picturesque views of the surrounding area. But we go in the opposite direction; we turn to the main road, and proceed along it further to the west.


Attribution-No Derivative Works (CC-BY-ND) by Andrey K.