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.