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The Foro Italico area
Many of the buildings in the area along the shore to the south of the castle date from the Italian occupation of Kos between 1912 and 1943. Kos was the second administrative centre of the Italian Dodecanese ‘Province’, and these buildings were meant to showcase the new ad ministration as well as to provide a functional base for its operations. Together they constitute what was called the Foro Italico, and they form part of a master plan for the expansion and renewal of the city, drawn up in 1928. The principal architects of this plan were Florestano di Fausto and Rodolfo Petracco, both of whom had been employed by Rome in the previous years to redesign the city of Rhodes . The idea was to create a new, ‘pan Mediterranean’ architectural vocabulary—clear, rational, and based on the simple forms of the architecture of the Ancient Romans (whom the regime was desirous of emulating), but which at the same time acknowledged the traditions of local architecture which, in Greece, meant the whitewashed, geometric forms of vernacular building and the mediaeval castellations and pointed arches of the structures left by the Knights of Rhodes . It was intended that this hybrid should become a universal architectural language of the Mediterranean, just as Ancient Roman design had been to the same area in Ancient times.
Although this architecture was to become more austere and less appealing as the Italian political regime became more repressive in the 1930s, the early buildings here in Kos are not without beauty or interest, and have often tended to be ignored for political reasons. As you stand in the area with the giant Ficus trees, three of the first builds to be erected line the shore opposite: the Albergo Gelsomino (originally the official hotel), and to its south, two lower buildings—the original Mayor’s Residence (Italian Club’. Immediately beside you and behind is the (less successful) church of the Evangelismos (formerly the Catholic cathedral of the Agnus Dei); inland, behind this building is the Kos Boys’ School (‘Ippokrateio Lykeio’), and one block further up Ippokratous Street is the Italian Hospital. One hundred and fifty metres to the north along the promenade road, just before the castle and the Avenue of Palms planted by the Italians, is the Kos Administration Building (originally the seat of the Governorate, but which now accommodates the Police, and other administrative offices). Directly behind it is the Courthouse and, at the far end of the Avenue of Palms, overlooking the harbour, is the Governor’s Residence (now the Town Hall). All these buildings—none without architectural merit—are the design of Florestano di Fausto, with the exception of the Albergo Gelsomino, which is by Rodolfo Petracco, and all were erected between 1927 and 1929. Then came the catastrophic earthquake of 1933, and a new and more ambitions urban plan for the city was required. One of the few buildings in this immediate area from after 1933, is the former Casa del Balilla, or Fascist Youth Building (now the Agrotiki bank), on the corner of Korai and Ar temisias Streets, 100m to the southwest: its pared-down, unadorned lines and blockish form speak of a different political atmosphere from the often whimsical, earlier buildings of the late 20s. Any reference to the local style of the Mediaeval Knights’ architecture—as in the towers, pointed arches, and crenellations of di Fausto’s Governo rate Building—has here been rigorously excluded.
Kos Island is part of the Dodecanese Island group
Mediaeval, OttoMan, Italian and Modern Kos. The Foro Italico area.