KOS



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Kos - Middle terrace

Middle Terrace

A largely restored flight of steps leads to the Second Terrace which constituted the sacred focus of the sanctuary. In the centre, at the top of the stairs, are the ruins of the main altar, which was enlarged at least twice during its history. The original altar of 350 bc was replaced by a 3rd century bc structure which would have had a form not dissimilar to the Altar of Dionysos in the town: a stepped platform, with a central offering table, open to the skies, surmounted by a colonnade, which was broken on the west side to allow ac cess by a ramp of steps. The colonnade may have contained sculptures by the school of Praxiteles, as mentioned by theAlexandrian poet, Herondas, in his 4th Mime. The altar would have been sacred to both Apollo and Asklepios; but an inscription found on the site mentions other lesser divinities also— Helios, Hemera, Hecate and Machaon (son of Asklepios and suitor of Helen).
   Looking onto the altar from the west, stood the (first) Temple of Asklepios—an Ionic temple, distyle in antis, erected around 300 bc. The building was simple and refined: different colours and qualities of stone were used—a grey-white lime stone in the stylobate, a blue-grey, veined marble in the lower level of the naos, and a lighter ‘travertine’ used above. There are grooves in the south side of the lower level of the platform for the channelling of rainwater from the roof: water which fell on a temple roof was considered sacred. The two columns of the portico remain in reassembled fragments: only the right hand (north) one still stands on its original base. Clearly visible in the interior, to the south side, is a large stone-built coffer in the floor, referred to as the thesauros, or treasury: its monolithic lid has a hole in the centre for the depositing of offerings to the god. Strabo implies (Geog. XIV.2.19) that a number of great paintings were to be seen in the temple, amongst which he mentions Apelles’s painting of Aphrodite Anadyomene. It was later removed to Rome in the 1st century by Augustus. Behind the temple is a building generally referred to as the ‘abaton’, i.e. a place of restricted access, or ‘holy of holies’, which appears to have been rebuilt more than once after earthquake damage. The presence inside it of enkoimeteria, or dormitories, has led to the suggestion that this was a residence for the priests. In some way, its function and existence must be linked to the spring in the far southwest corner, where steps lead down to a pool in a deep cavity beneath the retaining wall of the Upper Terrace.
   Across, to the east of the altar, is the base of the small, Roman, peripteral Temple of Apollo which, for no apparent reason, is oriented obliquely to everything else. The re-erected columns have only two small fluted fragments which are original to the 2nd century ad building. The rest is all reconstruction: the pastiche capitals on top of the columns, carved in the 1930s, do the building no favours. Wholly original, however, are the elaborately decorated fragments of the ornate entablature and ceiling of the temple’s peristyle which lie on the ground to the east. The displaying of important vo tive gifts to a sanctuary such as this was a visible manifestation of its prestige and importance, and the building whose foundations are visible further east of the Temple of Apollo (also referred to as a Lesche, or meeting room) probably served this purpose. The hemicycle of niches just to the east of the next flight of stairs may have had the same function of display, and the small, semicircular rostrum in front of it, a related ceremonial function.

 

 


Kos Island is part of the Dodecanese Island group
Akslipieion. Middle terrace.


Random information you might what to know about Kos Island
The hot springs at Aghia Irini
The archaeological Museum

 

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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