Touring in the Dodecanese: Kos island

Fisher boat in sunset, Kos islandPhoto by Arjen Lutgendorff

4th stop: Kos island

    Map of Kos island, GreeceCoordinates: 36°51′N 27°14′E

 

Kos or Cos is a Greek island in the south Sporades group of the Dodecanese, next to the Gulf of Cos. The island measures 40 km by 8 km, and is 4 km from the coast of Bodrum in Turkey, and the ancient region of Caria. The principal town of the island and seat of the municipality is Kos town. The island has a population of nearly 31,000. Throughout its history, the island has been known by the Greek, Kos. A person from Kos is called a “Koan” in English.

History of Kos

Greek columns, Kos island, GreeceAncient Greek theatre, Kos island, GreeceA column from the ancient temple of Asclipio 300BC, Kos island, GreeceThe roof wall, Oceanis, Kos island, GreecePhotos top/left and middle by Paul Szustka, photo top/right by Angelos Fasoulis and central photo by Martin Rotovnik, Slovenia

 

In the Roman mythology, the island was visited by Hercules.
The island was originally colonised by the Carians. A contingent from Kos participated in the War of Troy. The Dorians invaded it in the 11th century BC, establishing a Dorian colony with a large contingent of settlers from Epidaurus, whose Asclepius cult made their new home famous for its sanatoria. The other chief sources of the island’s wealth lay in its wines and, in later days, in its silk manufacture.

Proximity to the east gave the island first access to imported silk thread. Aristotle (384 BC-322 BC) mentions silk weaving conducted by the women of the island. Silk production of garments was conducted in large factories by female slaves.

Hippocrates' statue on Kos island, GreeceIn the Hellenistic age, Kos attained the zenith of its prosperity. Its alliance was valued by the kings of Egypt, who used it as a naval outpost to oversee the Aegean. As a seat of learning, it arose as a provincial branch of the museum of Alexandria, and became a favorite resort for the education of the princes of the Ptolemaic dynasty. Among its most famous sons were the physician Hippocrates, the painter Apelles, the poets Philitas and, perhaps, Theocritus.

Except for occasional incursions by corsairs and some severe earthquakes, the island has rarely had its peace disturbed. Following the lead of its great neighbour, Rhodes, Kos generally displayed a friendly attitude toward the Romans; in 53 AD it was made a free city.

Ruins of the Ancient Gymnasium on Kos island, GreeceThe island was later conquered by the Venetians, who then sold it to the Knights Hospitaller of Rhodes (the Knights of St John) in 1315. Two hundred years later the Knights faced the threat of a Turkish invasion and abandoned the island to the Ottoman Empire in 1523. The Ottomans ruled Kos for 400 years until it was transferred to Italy in 1912. In World War II, the island was taken over by the Axis powers. It was occupied by Italian troops until the Italian surrender in 1943. British and German forces then clashed for control of the island in the Battle of Kos, in which the Germans were victorious. German troops occupied the island until 1945, when it became a protectorate of the United Kingdom, who ceded it to Greece in 1947.

Ancient agora of Kos

The Market place of Kos was considered one of the biggest in the ancient world. It was the commercial and commanding centre at the heart of the ancient city. It was organized around a spacious rectangular yard 50 metres (160 ft) wide and 300 metres (980 ft) long. It began in the Northern area and ended up south on the central road (Decumanus) which went through the city. The northern side connected to the city wall towards the entrance to the harbour. Here there was a monumental entrance. On the eastern side there were shops. In the first half of the 2nd century BC, the building was extended toward the interior yard. The building was destroyed in an earthquake in 469 AD.

Kos city

View of the municipal market in Kos town, GreeceThe Cathedral of the city of Kos island, GreeceMosque at Kos island, GreeceThe harbor of Kos city, Greece

Beaches

Sunset at Tigaki beach, Kos island, Greece

Tigaki (or Tingaki) beach lies in a short distance from Kos town on the North part of the island. It is a 10 km long beach of white sands. The shallow waters make Tigaki ideal for kids and a relaxing place to swim and have fun with the waves.

Kefalos beach, Kos island, GreeceSandy foot, Kos island, GreeceSea and rocks at Kefalos, Kos island, GreecePhoto, right, by Laura-S

 

Kefalos beach is probably the most beautiful beach in Kos and the most famous one. Chances are that the picture that travel agency advertised Kos with was the small island of Castri in Kefalos village. One of Kos symbols. A beautiful white sand and crystal blue waters.

The monastery of Agios Nikolas is that close that you can easily swim to it. Kefalos is located at the SW part of the island and the distance from Kos town is 45 km and it is connected by regular bus.

Villages on Kos

Harbour Panoramic of Kardamena on Kos island, GreeceKardamaina is a small town 7 km from Kos Island International Airport at Antimacheia, situated mid-way along the south coast of the island. Once a small fishing village, it is now a popular summer destination, especially for British tourists, over the past two decades, offering pubs and restaurants, bars and night clubs and watersports facilities and daily boat services to Nisyros, the neighbouring volcano island that you ought to visit. There are many interesting archaeological treasures to be seen as well, such as the Temple of Apollo, the early Christian Basilicas and the Ancient Theatre. During the summer, at Kardamena White Bait Festival, join locals at a tradition that promises a lot of dancing and fun.

View from Kefalos, Kos island, GreeceKefalos town is situated at the southwest side of Kos, 43 km from Kos Town. It is built on a stone height, dominated by the imposing windmill of Papavasilis and is home to about 2,500 inhabitants.

 

The things to see in and around Kefalos:

  • the ruins of a medieval castle
  • the ancient site of Palatia
  • the basilica of Ayios Stefanos at nearby Kamari
  • the cave at Aspri Petra
  • the Monastery of Ayios Ioannis (Thimianos)
  • Mikro Limanaki beach at the north of Kefalos peninsula

Things to do in Kos

diving in GreeceDiving: Kos Divers Club is a Padi resort and dive shop that offers all Padi courses, technical courses, Nitrox and Trimix filling station. Padi, IANTD, Cmas instructors, great facilities and accomodation. It is located in the facilities of a hotel in Psalidi Kos with plenty of diving sites around.
Kos Divers Club website

Liamis Dive Centre is a boat-based Dive Centre, located in the main harbour of Kos Town, and has been in operation for over twenty five years.
A regular bus service operates within the town and its suburbs. Buses also run from other resorts to Kos Town enabling divers to join the boat well in advance of departure – no matter where they are staying on the island.

The dive center Arian Diving in Kardamaina offers exciting and safe diving through a variety of unusual dive sites including unusual rock formations with caves and tunnels, reef dives and the opportunity to dive through bubbles rising from a volcano.

windsurfingKitesurfingWindsurfing – Kitesurfing in Kos:

The Big Blue Surf Center is the premier Windsurfing and Kitesurfing center on Kos Island in Greece, and is situated on the beach in front of the 5* Natura Park Village. Located in Psalidi, just 5km from Kos town, the center is well known for the Meltemi wind which blows side shore from the left almost every day during the summer season.
Big Blue, Psalidi, tel: +30 22420-27.625  www.bigblue-surfcenter.gr

For those who love water sports, the specially equipped Horizon Surfing Center on Troulos beach on the north coast of Kos, close to Mastihari, provides the proper equipment for wind surfing, kite surfing and catamaran sailing. Horizon Surfing Center website (in German)

WATER-PROOF Surf & Sail & Kite in Mastichari provide lessons for all levels (from basic to intermediate and kids courses) and equipment. It is a registered VDWS center which offers world-wide recognized certificates for all courses. Get your international Windsurfing License here. Surf & Sail & Kite Center website

Kos Marina and Boatyard

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