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Kos - Mediaeval, Ottoman, Italian and Modern Kos - The area of the Plane - Tree of Hippocrates

The area of the Plane-tree of Hippocrates
The Ottoman baths are just behind di Fausto’s Governorate Building of 1928, whose varied and articulated façade looking onto the sea, and high (Gothic) arched, monumental entrance in the northeast corner, are worthy of note. The path behind, passing the Courthouse designed by the same architect, leads to a square dominated by a venerable plane-tree, called ‘Hippocrates’s Plane’, under which the ancient philosopher is supposed to have taught. The tree, which has four main branches of varying ages artificially supported at many points, will certainly have upward of 500 years of growth, but is unlikely to have the 2,450 years required for it to have shaded Hippocrates: it may be the descendant of a sacred tree which has always occupied this site. On the side towards the castle is a decorated Ottoman Fountain, bearing the date 1200 (=1780) in the Hajira calendar, whose rear side is part of a carved Hellenistic sarcophagus. On the other side is another Ottoman fountain, this time in the form of a canopied ‘Sebil’, with 14 sides, each with carved cypress tree motif. Seven truncated ancient columns with late Corinthian capitals support the domed canopy over it. Many beautiful ancient fragments lie around—pieces with inscriptions and ancient graffiti, altars with bucrania, and columns and fragments in Rhodian and other kinds of marble: the east corner-stone of the fountain’s platform bears a fragmentary ancient inscription.
   This fountain was built together with the imposing Mosque of Gazi Hassan Pasha (1786), also known as ‘The Mosque of the Loggia’, which rises directly behind. It has the not uncommon arrangement of the prayer hall raised above an arcade of shops on the ground floor: rents from the lower level contributed to the mosque and its charitable works. Two tones of stone—white and pale grey—have been used serendipitously, highlighted with stronger-coloured materials (red and green) in the window frames, to create an appealing overall affect. A rosette motif (symbol of the Prophet) occurs frequently in the lower arcades and the hand-rail of the steps; and the tiled and coloured, wooden porch-cover represents a pleasing conflation of classicising Greek and late Ottoman decorative taste. The prayer room interior (under restoration) is a luminous and magnificently proportioned chamber with interior balcony; it still possesses much 19th century, Ottoman woodwork. The minaret survives, though re stored, with carved geometric embellishments: at its foot is an ancient sculptural fragment of a lion-skin from a statue of Hercules, and a portion of a frieze of a lion and bull fighting.
   Fifty metres down Nafkli­rou Street and to the right into Diakou Street, at no. 4, is the former synagogue of Kos, with dramatic decorative chevrons in its façade. It has ceased to function as a place of worship since the deportations of 1944—ten years after it was put up by the Italians as part of their ‘New Urban Plan’ of 1934.


Kos Island is part of the Dodecanese Island group
Mediaeval, Ottoman, Italian and Modern Kos. The area of the Plane. Tree of Hippocrates.

 

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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