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The Odeion and Casa Romana area
These two buildings are the most conspicuous standing remains of the ancient town—as well as the most substantially modified and reconstructed by the Italian archaeologists of the 1930s. They are both on Grigoriou V Street, across from the point at which you entered the Western Archaeological area. The ancient city’s main theatre lay to the south of here, and this small Odeion, of the 2nd century bc, had a different purpose. It served for small musical gatherings, poetry readings, and political meetings. It was always an intimate space—originally roofed, decorated inside with statuary, and embellished with a polychrome marble floor in opus sectile. The original marble seating of the cavea has been extensively re stored with modern additions in similar stone. The building had a compact rectangular exterior, and the spacious and well-constructed undercrofts, or tabernae, beneath the seating area were also exploited in a practical use of valuable space in a crowded city centre. Not far from here (left side, 500m along the road to Ambavris, which heads south from the junction 200m east of the Odeion) and considerably overgrown, are the meagre remains of the city’s theatre proper, built originally in the 2nd century bc and restored in the 3rd century ad: the site has never been properly examined or cleared and remains difficult of access.
Three hundred metres further east along Grigoriou V Street is the so-called Casa Romana which has recently been restored. This was a splendid, patrician city residence, rebuilt in Roman times on the foundations (still visible at the lowest courses of masonry) of an earlier Hellenistic house destroyed in the earthquake of 142 ad. At 2,400sq m in area, it occupied a whole block of the city, and has a spaciousness which makes an abiding impression on the visitor. All of its finer mosaics were removed and taken by the Italians to the newly restored Grand Master’s Palace in Rhodes , where they now decorate rooms of a wholly different character: the few that remain here still give a sense of their sophisticated quality, nonetheless. Virtually no surface of the interior was originally left undecorated: this decoration was not just in wall-painting (as in the houses of Pompeii) but with the much more expensive revetment in precious coloured marbles, of which some dusty vestiges still remain.
Everything here displayed the wealth of the owners from the moment you entered: on the small platform in the floor opposite the main entrance, would have stood the strong-box of the owner, containing the gold or coin with which he paid his workers and rewarded his clients, protected night and day by janitors. The southern half of the house (left of entrance) is occupied by an airy, peristyle hall where the columns rise the full height of the building; at its southern end, and looking across it, is the tablinum, the principal reception-room of the house. Private baths for the owner and his guests are adjacent in the southeast corner. In the opposite, northwest corner, beyond the kitchens, is the north-facing triclinium or dining room looking across a fountain in the centre of the peristyle to an elaborate and decorated nymphaeum opposite. Water, and the sound of water, was fundamental to the plan of the house. Few other examples in the Aegean area give a better sense of the sumptuous dwellings of the rich in the late Hellenistic and Roman periods.
The next insula or block east of the house is occupied by the 3rd century ad Central Baths, the largest of the public thermal complexes, with its hypocaust system well-preserved and visible. Cos was well endowed with public baths.
Kos Island is part of the Dodecanese Island group
The Odeion and Casa Romana area.