KOS TRAVEL GUIDE - Ancient COS - The archaeological Museum


 The Archaeological Museum


The Archaeological Museum (open 8.30–3.30; closed Mon. Disabled access) on the north side of Eleftheri­as Square, which forms the western end of the area discussed above, is housed in a custom-built structure designed by Rodolfo Petracco in 1935. Given the richness and variety of ancient and mediaeval archaeological remains on the island, this collection of predominately later Hellenistic decorative material is decidedly limited in scope. There are three rooms around a central atrium; the pottery collection on the upper floor, which provides important evidence of prehistoric habitation on the island and of the specific Bronze Age, Geometric and Archaic settlements in the city, is currently closed to the public.

   The atrium surrounds a famous floor-mosaic of the Arrival of Asklepios on Cos (3rd century ad) disembarking from a boat with his snake-bound staff, greeted by a local wearing a hat and by Hippocrates, dressed as a sage, who sits on a rock to one side. On similar theme are statues (right) of Asklepios and of his daughter Hygieia (the divinity of cleanliness) in highly polished marble; both hold serpents and eggs which are symbols of the regeneration (the sloughing of old skin from a serpent), and renewal (the hatching of an egg with new life), which the arts of Asklepios promised o adherents. Both figures are accompanied at their feet by executive micro-divinities who help carry out their work—a winged Hypnos for Hygieia, and a hatted Telesphoros (literally ‘˜bringer to fruition’) for Asklepios. All of these works are from the 2nd and 3rd centuries ad. On the wall behind Hygieia is a beautiful fragment of mosaic with fish and crustaceans, from the floor of a fountain in the Casa Romana. Opposite is a statue of a patrician woman, which bears areas of red under-painting, in the face (eyes, lips and nose), hair and garments.
   In the long West Gallery (left), to either side of the door, are two fine fragmentary heads—of a boy and of a woman— of the 1st century ad. The 3rd century bc statue of an athlete, half-robed, would once have held a (coloured or gilded) victory wreath in his hands: the face appears to have been reworked during the later, Roman period. (Note the back of the head is un-worked, suggesting that the piece stood against a wall or in a niche.) The letters ‘˜D-A-I-D’ (? Daedalus) are inscribed on his chest.
   The small rotunda at the far end of the gallery contains the famous 4th century bc statue of a philosopher—possibly an idealised image of Hippocrates—whose fine head is still integral with the body. Four holes for metal pins in the border of the robe suggest the attachment once of a carved element; this could have been a snake and staff, symbol of the Asklepiads. On the walls (left) are a couple of fine and memorable, fragmentary grave reliefs of the 6th century bc: one of a symposium scene with some quite advanced horse play evident; the other of a young boy, with a purse or phial hanging from his arm, who is carrying a cockerel—the preferred sacrificial animal of Asklepios.
   The North Room contains finds from the Sanctuary of Demeter at Kiparissi, near Amaniouin the centre of the island, including a rare votive statue of Hades; several Hellenistic statues of good workmanship—of Aphrodite, and of Tyche or ‘˜Fortune’; and a fine and expressive head of Silenus by the door. The East Room, containing Roman statuary, is dominated by the Seated Hermes. This 2nd century ad piece, which was found in the House of the Europa Mosaic, is remarkably well-preserved—although of very variable quality (especially poor in the carving of the ram): it has some of the lifelessness that comes of copying by rote.



Kos Island is part of the Dodecanese Island group

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Kos Island, Greece.

By air: Kos has an international airport in the centre of the island at a distance of 23 km from Kos Town, with twice daily connections from Athens by both Olympic Air and Aegean Airlines, and charter arrivals from many destinations in Northern Europe. There are also local (Olympic)flights three times weekly to Astypalaia, Leros and Rhodes.
   By boat: There are daily services by catamaran (Dodecanese Express), and four times weekly by car ferry (F/B Nisos Kalymnos), plying the route between Rhodes, Kos, Kalymnos, Leros, Patmos (& Samos – ferry only): to Piraeus and Rhodes, Blue Star Ferries run four times weekly ferries, and GA Ferries (who include Nisyros, Tilos and Symi en route) three times weekly. The faster Flying Dolphin services link Kos also with the smaller Dodecanese Islands between Samos in the north and Rhodes in the south, and run daily in summer. From Kardamaina on the southeast coast there is a daily connection with Nisyros throughout the year, weather permitting.

Kos Travel Guide


Kos Island, Greece.

In the town centre, for inexpensive and genuine fare, with good fresh, local wine, the small taverna Kriti (just below the steps northwest of the central church of Aghia Paraskevì) on Ypsilantou Street is reliable and convivial: while, nearby, the Kafeneion Aenaos in front of the Deftedar Mosque, opposite the Central Market building, makes a proper Greek coffee. Many of the most interesting and enjoyable places to eat, however, are a little out of the centre; for a delightful rural, courtyard setting, the Taverna Ambavris (in Ambavris, 1 km along the road south (left) from just beyond the Casa Romana /Roman House as you approach it from the centre of town) is to be recommended; while at the crossroads in Platani, (1.7 km from the port along the road to the Asklepieion), Ali"s is a Turkish restaurant with some good quasi-Turkish dishes, very popular with locals for Sunday lunch. To Palaio Pyli, 1 km below Palaio Pyli, has good fish, hospitable welcome and a good sunset view. With comparable sunset view, home-grown wine and home-made traditional dishes, the quiet and friendly -Taverna Panorama (2.5 km up the Asfendiou road from Zipari) in a family house and garden, is highly recommended. It is perhaps the most genuine place on the island to eat.

Kos Travel Guide

further reading

Kos Island, Greece.

Susan Sherwin-White’s Ancient Cos – an Historical Study etc. (the most authoritative and detailed study of the island in Antiquity); Vassilis Colonas, Italian Architecture in the Dodecanese Islands (Olkos Press, Athens, 2002), for the buildings and architectural ideas of the Italian occupation; the Hippocratic Corpus, selected and translated as The Medical Works of Hippocrates, by Chadwick and Mann (Oxford, Blackwell).

Kos Travel Guide


Kos Island, Greece.

Outside of the tourist complexes, the most comfortable place to stay in Kos is at the Kos Aktis Hotel (T.22420 47200; www.kosaktis.gr) which is stylish and modern, and has a good restaurant; it is conveniently and centrally placed near the castle, and all its rooms have balconies overlooking the shore towards the Turkish coast. The price is moderate to expensive. For the hospitality, friendliness and helpfulness of the owner, the family-run Hotel Afendoulis (T.22420 25321, fax 25797), just in from the shore to the south of the centre on Evripidou Street, is a pleasant guest-house, but with basic rooms (inexpensive).

Kos Travel Guide

practical info

Kos Island, Greece.

85 300 Kos: area 287sq km; perimeter 112km; resident population 26,379; maximum altitude 843m.
Port Authority: T. 22420 26594–7 & 24185.
Travel and information: Panos Tours, T. 22420 23078, fax 28068.

Kos Travel Guide

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