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KOS Island, Greece

Kos is an island part of the Dodecanese islands, located in the southeast part of the Aegean Sea. It is the third largest of the Greek islands of the group (after Rhodes and Karpathos), and the second most popular and tourist island.

Static map Dynamic map

An Ancient History

The history of Kos goes back to prehistoric times (early 3rd millennium b.C., Early Bronze Age), when several movements of various people took place in the Aegean and the broader area around. The island flourishes during the Minoan and Mycenaean periods and, according to traditions, the island took part to the Trojan War with 30 ships. After the collapse of the Mycenaean civilization, the island becomes Doric with a large contingent of settlers from Epidaurus who took with them their Asclepius cult and made their new home famous for its sanatoria. The rod of Asclepius, a snake-entwined staff, remains a symbol of medicine today.

In the Hellenistic age Kos attained the zenith of its prosperity. It became a kind of provincial branch of the museum of Alexandria, and a favorite resort for the education of the princes of the Ptolemaic dynasty; among its most famous sons the physician Hippocrates, the “father of modern medicine”.

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 towards the Romans; in 53 AD it was made a free city. The 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 Germany until 1945, when it became a protectorate of the United Kingdom, who ceded it to Greece in 1947.

Below the statue of Asclepius with his symbol, the serpent-entwined staff, and the fortress of Antimaxias.

Links of Interest

Athens Airport
Ferries to Kos
About Kos Island

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