Island of Kos
Kos belongs to the Dodecanese group in the eastern side of the Aegean Sea, along the Asia Minor. Kos is the third largest island in the Dodecanese with 33,300 inhabitants. The island is a fertile, nearly flat strip of land (290.27 sq. km.), with only a low mountain called Law. The coastline is rocky and sandy, without severe dismemberment. In subsoil there are many minerals. At Kos there are eight wetlands, many springs and thermal baths. In close distance are easily visited the islands of Kalymnos, Pserimos and the volcanic island of Nisyros and the natural beauty islet Yali. Kos is close to the coast of Asia Minor, just three nautical miles from the Bodrum peninsula. The flat terrain of the island makes cycling a convenient means of movement for many routes where the visitor can enjoy rested. Also this is due to the existence of the network of cycle paths in the city. The bike is a very popular means of transportation in the city of Kos. The bicycle path of Kos starts from Faros beach and extends to the end of the beach of Psalidi, a distance of about 13 km. With many side streets, some of which lead into the city of Kos, one can go wherever he/she wants, only by bike. On the island there are many enterprises that rent bikes. The island of Kos has an adequate road network for the movement of visitors. The local bus performs many and frequent itineraries from the villages to the town of Kos. For visitors wishing to rent a car or a bike there are too many car rental offices. Local agencies also organize hiking trails on the island, as it is a good chance to discover the countryside.
Kos - The History
The crossing of people and cultures from the island of Kos through the centuries is eminent in every place and corner of the island, in the city of Kos as well as in all the settlements and large villages. The ruins of the ancient city with the Hellenistic and Roman buildings, the Asclepieion, the Castle of the Knights, the Plane of Hippocrates, the Muslim Shrine of Lozia, the Castle of Antimacheia, the Temple of Apollo in Kardamena, the Castle of Kefalos.
The first traces of human settlement are dated at the end of the 3rd millennium B.C.
The first inhabitants were Lelegas and mainly the Kare. The habitation on the hill of Seragios in the city of Kos is dated since then. The name “Kos” is considered by some to have its origins in Asia Minor, and perhaps it means prison, and by others it has its roots from nymph Ko the daughter of the mythological King of the island Meropos. Others believe that its name came from the Queen Koos, the daughter of Triopas the II. Other sources claim it comes from the shape of the island itself which resembles a sheep and thus is linked to the Kare word Koion.
The Myceneans arrived after the destruction by the volcano of Santorini. In Iliad the participation of Kos in the Trojan War is cited as a mark of their financial power. From Argolis came the Doric Tribes and in the years that followed the worship of Asclepius and of Apollo the Karnius was introduced and the Asclepieion was established. In 478 B.C. Kos participated in the Athenean Alliance and in 412 B.C. it sided with the Spartans. The compromise between democrats and oligarchs, following the conflict between them in 366 B.C., led to the creation of what we know today to be the city of Kos, which also became the capital of the island. This is where Hippocrates founded his school and at the 4th century the Asclepieion was also founded, which recognized the national right of asylum. In 242 B.C. the Great Asclepieia were established as a national festival.
In 198 B.C. Kos found itself on the side of Romans and following the destructive earthquake of 143 B.C., the city of Kos formed its Roman character. In 12 A.C. Octavius affirmed the Asylum of Asclepieion. During the Byzantinean times, the invasion by the Vandals and Visigoths in combination with the earthquakes in 469 A.C. and 554 A.C. led to the decay of the island. What followed were the Arabs and the Sarakinians. In the 11th century A.C., Kos became a hub trade port once again. After the fall of Constantinople from the Crusaders, the island came successively under the power of the Franks, the Byzantians, the Venetians, the Genoese and also the Knights of St. John under which it remained for two centuries. In 1523 the island was conquered by the Ottoman navy (this is why a Turkish community exists on the island). Spanish and Spanish-Arab pirates, Florentines, Venetians and Hayreddin Barbarossa also raided the Island. Regardless of all the plundering of the 18th and 19th century, Kos managed to develop into a trade hub between the Ottoman Empire and the West.
Because of its significance, Kos was under strict supervision by the Ottomans and this was a deterrent for the rebellion of the Greek residents. With the arrival of the Turkish-Cretan refugees, during the Cretan revolution in 1869, the situation for the Greeks only got worse. In 1912 the Italians occupied the island without a fight, and that is when the Italian Occupation of the Dodecanese began. For three decades the Italian authorities colonized Kos and attempted to turn the Greek Orthodox residents into Italians.
Kos architecture is very special because it has received many influences by the foreign element. During the Ottoman period, the city had all the characteristics of the so-called flea-city. The social life was limited to the shopping street, around which Muslims lived exclusively, and in the tartsi, which was located in the center of the city, in Platanos Square. In many parts of the island there are Muslim mosques and springs. The highland villages still hold the traditional houses before the earthquake of 1933. During the period of the Italian Occupation, Kos received influences by the Venetian architecture. After the disastrous earthquake of 1933, it was re-built by the Italians according to a new city plan. It was divided into three residential sections, with class criteria: the northern, the central and the eastern. The northern section was fragmented into small houses for the working class of the city (case popolari). The central section consisted, mostly, of two-storey houses with groundfloor shops, which were occupied by the members of the bourgeoisie (palazzine).
Finally, in the Eastern zone, the Italian colonists (villini) had their mansions built inside the gardens. Other elements of the Italian influence on the island are the extensive green zones in the city, including tropical flora in addition to the very distinguishing public buildings, which were designed by Italian architects and are located in the city as well as in the estates of Antimacheia and Kardamainas. The buildings which were constructed before the earthquake (City Hall, General hospital, Government House) differ in form from the ones constructed following the earthquake (Casa del Fascio, Town Market, Casa Balilla etc). Whilst the first are mainly samples of eclecticism, the latter have elements of rationalism and fascistic architecture. The German conquerors followed the Italians and the people of Kos went through very difficult times. As a result of that, the Jewish community, the second minority community of the Island, was wiped out. In 1945, Kos was liberated by the English who remained at the Dodecanese until 1948, when Kos was integrated to the rest of Greece . In 1948, along with the unification of the Dodecanese with Greece a new architectural reality was formed. It was then that large hotels were built in order to cover the needs of an increasing touristic demand. One can see and admire the art and the history works at the Archaeological Museum , the Hani in Kos city and at the Folklore Museum of Antimacheia.
What to see
Asclepieion / The Sanctuary of AsclepiusAsclepieion is the most well-known archeological sight in Kos. It was the place where Hippocrates used to act, and also a place of worship of Asclepius. Asclepieion is situated within a 5-minute distance from the town of Kos. Monuments, temples, and sanctuaries of Classic and Roman Times are still preserved nowadays.
International Hippocratic Foundation of KosIHFK, a non-profit organisation dedicated to Hippocrates (the so-called Father of Western Medicine) built in 1960, is located 0,5km east from Asclepeion and 3,5km south-west from Kos city centre. IHFK "embraces" an impressive hillside (670 meters above sea level) offering a unique view. The location is idyllic, when various kind of flowers blossom setting an unrepeatable scenery. IHFK's gardens host 100 from the totally 256 therapeutical plants that Hippocrates was cultivating in order to use them to his medical treatments.
Hippocrates GardenThis is a renowned cultural center dedicated to the Father of Western Medicine, Hippocrates. It is located on Mastichari village, 22km west from the town of Kos, and it depicts a typical ancient Greek village, in order to highlight the ancient Greek lifestyle. One has the opportunity to visit a typical ancient Greek residence and to be familiarized to ancient medical techniques. Perimetrical of Hippocrates Garden organic farming activities are developed, so as to, along with interesting seminars that take place indoors, motivate people to rearrange their priorities and put nature's preservation in the epicenter of their interests.
Hippocrates Square (Platanos Square)The most popular spot in town is located on the edge of Akti Kountourioti, behind the Commandery. The trunk of the 2.400-year-old tree, actually the most ancient tree in Europe –it is said that the Father of Medicine used to teach under its shadow- is 10m long. Around the square, one can admire the Roman fountain and the mosque of Lotzia, built in 1786 (Italian used the mosque as a salt store), while can also go shopping at the nearby shops.
Castle of NeratziaThis is the most well-preserved knights' fort in Kos, built in 1445 on an islet attached to the Island of Kos, where the small port is. The building material that was used for its construction, was taken from the ancient town, while along with the castle of Bodrum, was the checking point for the sea passage towards the Holly Land during the Crusades.
Castle of the Knights (Antimacheia)This castle, built in the 14th century, is not as renowned as the abovementioned. However its history is with no doubt remarkable. Situated in the area of Antimacheia, it was used by the Knights of Saint John who wanted to enhance the defensive capacity of Kos. Nowadays, in the Castle one can find the church of Agia Paraskevi, the one of Agios Nikolaos, and the ruins of Panagia e Eleimonitra Orthodox Church.
Western Archeological Area & the Casa RomanaOn the west side of the town, roads, a gymnasium, Nimfeo, thermal springs, residences and the renowned Casa Romana (the residence of a Roman commandant), with its very preserved mosaics, have come to light. Roman Conservatory, which still hosts music performances, is situated in a very short distance from there.
Archeological Museum of KosThe Archeological Museum, housed in a preserved Italian building (built in 1933), includes exhibits from the Neolithic Times to the Roman ones. Among the exhibits, the classic statues and the elaborate mosaics stand out.
Old PiliThe medieval castle in Palio Pili, 15 km from Kos town, towards Kefalos, is called "Mystras of the Dodecanese". If you walk up the steep acclivity, you will find, apart from the church of Panagia Kastriani, built in 1080, a hidden café. This is built in a rock, and there you can enjoy traditional Greek coffee and spoon sweets.
Tastes of Kos
One of the traditional local dishes that you can taste in Kos is the 'sweet tomatoes'. The special variety of small long tomatos called by locals 'lainati' is converted into the hands of local households into a great “sweet of spoon” (small pieces of sweet eaten by spoon).
Also another unique product of the island is 'cheese posa' or 'Krasotyri'. This is goat cheese, keeping it in wine, and gets a red exterior color with a very gentle spiciness.
The 'oatmeal', ground wheat cooked with pork, 'pittaridia' (noodles boiled in broth), the 'katimeria' (twisted fried pie with mytzithra -cheese- offered with honey and cinnamon), the 'zest' ( wheat flat cakes breads, fermented with grated cheese and herbs), the 'afre na' or 'eftazyma' (flavored sourdough breads that are made by the foam boiled chickpeas and bay leaf), and the 'kousafi' (boiled black currant with various herbs). The 'Kanelada' is a unique traditional drink and 'Alesfakeia' is a special aroma decoction of herb found in the island. Thyme honey, local wines and ouzo stand out for their excellent flavor and aroma.
The airport of Kos 'Hippocrates', next to Antimacheia receives international flights daily. From the airport of Athens 'Eleftherios Venizelos', you will find at least two daily flights with Aegean Airlines and Olympic Airlines. Also there are flights from the airport of Thessaloniki's Makedonia.
The boats leave daily from the port of Piraeus, the journey takes 10-15 hours, depending on the route. There is also a link to Patmos, Leros, Kalymnos, Rhodes, Samos and Ikaria islands. Less frequent or constant is the connection with other Greek destination ports. Also, there is a link to the Peninsula of Turkey.
Island of Nisyros
Nisyros is located in the south-east Aegean and it is part of the Dodecanese group of islands. It is surrounded by four other islets called Pergousa, Pachia, Strongyle and Yali. The shape of Nisyros resembles that of a frustum. In the center dominates a distinct circular igneous hopper, which is the Caldera of Nisyros, the diameter of which is about 4 kilometers. It can be described as the unique "green" active volcano of the Aegean Sea.
Nisyros - The History
The Ancient Greeks had a clear view on when and how the island was created. They considered Nisyros a part of Kos. According to the myth, Poseidon was chasing a giant, called Polivotis, and having broken with his trident a part of Kos, threw it on the giant and thus, Nisyros was created. This myth reveals the fact that people knew that Nisyros is a volcano and that its stones are similar to those in the southwest of Kos. The trapped energy of the melted rock and steam is transbodied in the giant Polivotis who groans and shakes imprisoned in its bowels.
The first prehellenic population that inhabited the island was the Pelasgians. Those who followed were the Kares (Caria was a transportation hub between Ionia, Lydia, Lycia and Phrygia) and the Leleges. The Kares prevailed and, being excellent navigators and farmers they taught Nisyros seamanship and agriculture.
From 3000BC up to 1500BC Nisyros was inhabited by the Cretans, who carried over many elements of the Cretan civilization. The first competitors and replacers of the Cretans were the Phoenicians (1500 BC). At that time Nisyros also had the name of Porphyris.
The era from 1400BC up to 1100 BC, a period of changes in the continental and insular Hellenic area with the descent of Dorians, was characterized by growth, evidently influenced by the Mycenean culture. What follows is the Trojan War, with the participation of Nisyros, at the end of which the leaders of Nisyrians gathered their (remaining) fleet and army and returned to the island. It is the second era of Mycenaean civilization and the second period of Doric domination over Nisyros, the “post-Trojan” one. Then came the catastrophic earthquakes. The island was at first deserted and then inhabited by Rhodian and Koan settlers. What is noteworthy of this period is the constitution of Nisyros, which is about equal participation of citizens in public life.
During the same period, the first bloodletting in the history of medical science took place at Nisyros. Podalirius, son of Asclepios, pathologist and psychiatrist, returned from Troy. For ten years he excelled at Troy and became known for the therapy of Aias the Telamon, who suffered from depressive mania and the treatment of Philoctetes from a poisonous snake bite. Pausanias tells how Podalirius came across a fierce storm on his return and was forced to flee to the safe haven of Nisyros. The goatherd of Damitou, the latter being the king of Caria and Nisyros, recognized the famous doctor and immediately announced his arrival to the king. Podalirius applied bloodletting from the elbow of Sirna, the king’s daughter, who had suffered heavy injuries from a fall and she was eventually healed. Later on, Podalirius settled in Kos, where he founded a Medical School as well as a Nisyrian Annex of the Asklepieion of Kos. It is worth noting that Podalirius was the founder of the famous doctors of antiquity and an ancestor of Hippocrates.
Further on, across the centuries, Nisyros maintained good relations originally with the well known Croesus, the King of Lydia, but also with the Persians and more specifically with the Queen Artemisia who was of Greek origin and confidante of Cyrus the Great. After the Persian Wars, the Nisyrians joined the First Athenian Alliance. The Peloponnese War found Nisyros to change sides without any active participation in the strife.
Later on, as a member of the Rhodian State, Nisyros was dominated by the Roman Governor. It is worth mentioning the Cassius plunder in 42 BC and the terrible destruction by Mark-Anthony and Cleopatra in 41 BC.
In the First Byzantine Period (324-610), Nisyros was found under the fear of the Saracen pirates, as well as, the conversion to Christianity. The God of Light, Apollon and the God of the Sea, Poseidon, entered the shadow of history, and the God of Love replaced them. A new social system dawned: the Empire took the place of Democracy and a new God the place of the old.
In the Middle Byzantine Period (610-1081), Nisyros suffered from constant raids from Arabs and Seljuk Turks. During the Late Byzantine Period (1081-1453), the Venetian Marco Sanudo occupied the island in order to pass in the hands of Leon Gavalas, the Ruler of Rhodes, a few years later. Very soon though, in 1224, the Byzantine Emperor of Nicaea, John Doukas Vatatzes, re-integrated Nisyros in the Byzantine Empire. In 1204, the Crusaders, according to Runciman, “nullified” the “fortress” of Christianity in the East. Nisyros lived in the proceedings, because of the rapid developments and changes (Knights, Venetians, Muslims). In mid July of 1394, the Italian notary, Nichola de Martoni, passed by Nisyros: The completion and repair of the Mandraki fortress is evident by the date 1315 which is engraved on a marble stone. The built-in symbols and signs are Venetian and occurred a year after Nisyros was conquered by the Knights of the Order of St John, commonly known as Knights. The fortress encompasses all around the eastern part of the flap of Panagia Spiliani.
The people of Nissyros though, remained, in hart, united with the Byzantine Empire and religiously tied with the Orthodox Patriarchate. During the Knights’ era temples of byzantine style were built in Nisyros and they were decorated according to the byzantine technique.
In 1455, the powerful Turkish armada, overrun Nisyros and after destroying the fields and the houses, they also enslaved many of the inhabitants. Suleiman later on conquered the Dodecanese. Nisyros gave in on 6th September 1522.
On 12 May 1912, the admiral Biale, inaugurated the official Italian occupancy of Nisyros. The inhabitants of the island accepted the Italians as liberators, who nevertheless didn’t lose time in showing their possessive character, and the strive for survival went on. After the Lausanne Treaty (24 July of 1923), the second period of the Italian occupation began. The Political administrator of the Dodecanese the diplomat Mario Lago finished major public-utility projects, as the headquarters of Nisyros, but his projects were not recognized by the fascist government, because not all inhabitants had learned to speak Italian. The “Elli’s torpedoing” in 1940 and the declaration of the Greek-Italian war brought again the “blood letting” of the people of the island. On September 11th, 1943, the Italian State in Dodecanese finally ended.
Though the Germans stayed only occasionally in Nisyros and for a short period of time, their passage was even depicted in the local folklore tradition. Some of the elder people of Mandraki remember the German soldiers climbing up the Monastery of Panagia Spiliani so to fortify it, only to desert the monastery in panic.
For more information look up in the site of Nisyros: www.nisyros.gr
Autobank Car rental has offered a 10% discount on regular prices for conference attendees in order to move around Kos.
For more information use the contact information below:
- Autobank - Car Rental
- Psalidi - Lampi - Mastichari - Airport
ΕUROPCAR Car rental has offered rental for 25eur/day for conference attendees
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- ΕUROPCAR - Car Rental
- Kos - Airport
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- Radio Taxi Kos
Bus Lines:From the Airport:
Take the suburban bus line “Aiprot-Mastichari-Kos” up to the Terminal station in Kos city, on 7th Kleopatras street. The ticket costs 3,20€. Trip duration, approximately 45 min. From there, you walk 8 minutes to reach “AKTEON” area , on Akti Kountourioti str., (opposite to Police Station), in order to take the urban bus, lines no. 1 or no.5, to the hotel. Ask the driver to stop at the 11th or 12th bus stop for Kipriotis Panorama Aqualand or Kipriotis Village Resort, respectively. The ticket costs 1,5€ at the ticket office or 2€ on the bus. Trip duration 15 min.
From the Port:
Take the urban bus, lines no. 1 or no.5, from Akti Kountourioti, “AKTEON” area (opposite to Police Station). Follow the instruction above.
For bus schedule of all lines, see below
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