KOS



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Kos - Mediaeval, Ottoman, Italian and Modern Kos - Further afield

Further afield

Three other monuments of interest which lie off the route of this itinerary deserve mention. One block inland from the Harbour Baths (see below) west of the port, and opposite no. 19 Veriopoulou Street, stand the interesting remains of an Ottoman well-house—a large apsidal structure with a wide, free-standing arch in front, which spans a circular area beneath. This area was trodden by a mule that turned a draught mechanism suspended from the arch: the water drawn up thus, passed into the large, plastered cistern to the side and thence into an irrigation system for the gardens in the area—perhaps for the culti vation of Cos lettuces. Various ancient fragments, including a Doric capital, are incorporated into the structures.
   In the south of the town between the Odeion and the Casa Romana, Anapavseos Street leads south to the Catholic cemetery and church of Agnus Dei by Armando Bernabiti (1935–37): the vertical effect of its dramatically elongated entrance gate is further enhanced by the crowding cypress trees around it. Behind this church is the remarkable, domed baptistery of Aghios Ioannis- of the late 5th–early 6th century, once attached to a large Early Christian Basilica whose remains now lie under the surrounding cemetery. (The interior is open only ir regularly at c. 7 am, sometimes on Saturday evenings, and for funerals.) The building’s importance lies in the fact that this is one of only two Early Christian baptisteries in Greece to have survived, complete, into the present day: its interior feels every bit as ancient as it is. The rectangular exterior with a shallow cupola surrounded by undulating forms and reversed semi-domes, is intriguing; but it gives no sense of the unified interior, where eight columns—three still with their ancient Ionic capitals— define a well-proportioned cylindrical area, with receding spaces and conches in the perimeter. The floor is now paved with marble slabs: the original baptismal pool in the centre was filled in when the building became a funerary church possibly as early as the 11th century. Vestiges of 13th and 14th century wall-paintings are perceptible in some of the conches. A door in the north side would have communicated with the main basilica church which once stood in the area now occupied by the cemetery to the north.
   The next road (50m east) which turns off south from Grigori­ou V Street, leads out into the pleasant suburb of Ambavri­s. There are a number of old, stone houses along this street, and the road is lined to the east side by the running arches of the Ottoman aqueduct which brought water from the springs of Mt. Horomedon into the town.

On the form of early baptisteries
This early example of a baptistery building on Kos has the form of an ancient heroon or martyrion—a circular type of pagan mausoleum used for honouring heroes or fallen warriors. Such buildings were circular, with the sarcophagus of the hero or martyr in the centre, and an ambulatory all around it for the devotions of the visitor. It was from this kind of building that the design of the Christian baptistery emerged. The symbolism was important: only by symbolically ‘dying’ could the neophyte be re-born by baptism. And the witnesses to this ‘resurrection’ through water, stood around in the ambulatory. Here at Aghios Ioannis there is a domed roof, supported by eight columns de fining seven lobes and conches in the building plus the door of exit: the building is also referred to as the ‘Epta Bemata’ or ‘Seven Steps’ on account of these seven lateral areas. Seven was an important number in early numerology, symbolising the totality of the cosmos, created by Divine Will in seven days; it was also the sum of four (things worldly—elements, seasons, point of the compass, etc.) and three (things unworldly and of mystical power, such as the Trinity). Here, the baptism of a neophyte took place in the centre, beneath the domed roof (the ‘firmament’), and surrounded by the seven spaces and conches that symbolised the totality of the existing world: he or she entered the baptismal water from one side, left from the opposite side, and proceeded to exit the baptistery through the doorway in the eighth side, into a new spiritual world which superseded the old order symbolized in the seven. Baptisteries and baptismal fonts very commonly have eight sides—whether in Kos, or Florence, or Aix la-Chappelle, or in the local parish church around the corner.

 


Kos Island is part of the Dodecanese Island group
Mediaeval, Ottoman, Italian and Modern Kos. Further afield.


Random information you might what to know about Kos Island
Giant Ficus magnoliae trees
Ancient port baths

 

access

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

eating

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

lodging

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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