It is from the third or Upper Terrace that the beautiful view across the city, the islands and the mainland opposite finally opens out; and it is this area of the sanctuary which would have been visible from out at sea, and which contributed to the impression that Cos made on the arriving visitor—so approvingly commented on by both Diodorus Siculus and Strabo. The form of this terrace mirrored the First Terrace: the sides and back, lined by a continuous colonnaded stoa, with the fourth side open to the panoramic view. Once this area was completed, shortly after 200 bc, the sanctuary had a complete, closed form—two colonnaded terraces reflecting one another across a transverse axis of sacred buildings. The major difference was that a new and Greater Temple to Asklepios, was erected in the centre of this terrace in 170– 160 bc—this time peripteral in design (with a Doric colonnade all around), oriented north/south, and with no apparent altar in front. Only the marble floor and finely cut steps of the platform remain—sufficient, however, to show the play of different colours of stone once again. Anything that remained of the original 32 columns of the Doric temple was taken to Kos by the Knights of Rhodes for their Castle and other buildings. Over the temple’s pronaos, a small, mediaeval Christian chapel was erected, generally referred to as the Panaghia tou Alsous or ‘Tarsou’ (‘of the sacred grove’). The T-shaped assemblage of spolia—ancient and Byzantine—to the east side was its altar. The stone sarcophagi visible to the west are evidence of a Christian cemetery on this site, too.
The design and function of the long portico, or stoa, which bordered the terrace on three sides, are virtually identical to that on the First Terrace. Here, however, the terracotta pipes and tanks of the running water system, which fed every part of the sanctuary, are clearly visible at several points. Steps in the centre of the south side lead up the hill behind into the area occupied by the original grove of cypress trees, sacred to Apollo Kyparissios. A little way up the hill and to the left, is the platform of another temple, probably also Hellenistic in date, perfectly oriented on an east–west axis: the base of the walls of the naos can be traced, and the south side of the crepidoma remains well-preserved. Above it, a curious, natural, limestone ridge traverses the hillside, which shows signs of having been cut by hand at several points: this may have been the natural peribolos or perimeter line of the sacred grove. The hill levels out further up: the land drops away towards the sea in one direction, and rises to the crenellated peak of Dikaios in the other.
The road which climbs up beyond the Asklepieion cross es the valley and stream-bed of the waters from Vourina Spring. Two of a series of de-commissioned water-mills can be seen in the valley, one immediately to the left of the road. After 6.5km, the road reaches the abandoned village of Aghios Demetrios (covered below under ‘Mountain Villages’).
Kos Island is part of the Dodecanese Island group
Asklepieion. Upper terrace.
The archaeological Museum
Castle of the Knights