The central road of the island, which runs virtually at sea level for the first 17km west of Kos, rises over 100m onto the volcanic plateau before reaching Antimachia. 800m before the village is a road to the south, signed to ‘Kastro’, for Antimachia Castle (unrestricted opening).
Some castles give the impression of verticality, others—like Antimachia—of horizontality. This is a wide castle in a wide landscape, designed to accommodate and protect a large number of people and livestock against a protracted siege. It sprawls, but it still does not fail to give and impression of forceful unity: in 1457 it with stood a 20-day siege by Mehmet the Conqueror. Arriving by road from the northwest, it is hard to appreciate that the site of the castle is on the crown of a ridge which drops steeply to the coastal strip: with such natural protection to its south, it needed its heaviest constructed defences to the north. The original walls are of the 14th century—erected between 1337 and 1346, shortly after the Knights of St. John first arrived on Kos, during the mastership of Helion de Villeneuve: but they have been significantly strengthened by a continuous talus reaching three-quarters of the way up their height as well as by a massive semicircular redoubt protecting the north west entrance, added in 1494. Below the machicolations above the entrance, are the arms of the Grand Master, Pierre d’Aubusson (1476–1505), who carried out both of these improvements and repaired the walls after the earthquake of 1493.
The interior is bleak—a sea of rubble remains, as of a densely inhabited town: streets, houses, churches, threshing circles and cisterns. The central building, ahead inside the gate, was used by the Turks after 1523 as a mosque: there are the vestiges of a minaret on its southwest corner. The other two buildings within the enceinte which are still integral and roofed are both churches contemporary with the construction of the castle, built with the sparseness of line and form characteristic of their military founders. To the east is Aghios Nikolaos with the arms of Grand Master del Carretto and the date 1520 on its west façade, added probably a century after the erection of the church. In its northwest corner, wall paintings are faintly preserved. An impressively spacious cistern lies just to the north. The larger, late 14th century church of Aghia Paraskevi beyond, possesses greater architectural interest in its decorated apse outside and ribbed vaulting inside: it also conserves vestiges of wall-paintings on its west wall. The castle’s beetling south walls look across to Nisyros and Tilos, although the sightlines for the purposes of signalling from here to the Knights’ Castle at Mandraki on Nisyros are all but blocked by the profile of the island of Giali, which lies in between.
The spreading, modern village of Antimachia (21km from Kos), occupies the site of its ancient predecessor; in its main square is a typical village house, decked out as a small Museum of Local Folklore, and opposite is a re stored windmill—one of many that once caught the wind on this long central ridge of the island. The village is al most equidistant from its two harbours on the north and south coasts, at both of which the visible remains of large Early Christian communities can be seen: one of the re markable characteristics of Kos is the presence of numerous, large, Palaeochristian basilicas, built by the water’s edge at many points around the island.
Kos Island is part of the Dodecanese Island group
Antimachia and the West of the Island – Antimachia, Mastichari and Kardamaina – Antimachia
Principal points of interest
Ancient Cos general Information