Kos Ancient Gymnasium

The Ancient Gymnasium of Kos Greece, Dodecanese: The Hellenistic Gymnasium, also known as Xisto, is part of a complex of the Hellenistic and Roman periods that also includes the Acropoli, the Hippodrome, the Nymphaeum a very elaborated structure dating from the 3rd century BC, as well as the ruins of the temples of Aphrodite and Hercules, and a great arcade placed at the entrance of the Ancient Town, which is located near the harbour, in the eastern part of the town of Kos.

First of all, Xisto means scraped, making allusion to the athletes use of covering themselves with oils before the games and scraping it off once they finished. The style of the construction is Doric, as the restored seventeen columns of the initial 81 indicate. The columns on the west side had elaborated lion heads decorations. A huge roof used to lay on the top of this colonnade made of white marble, covering a large part of the gym.

During the posterior Roman times, a swimming pool was built. The gymnasium counted also on a water tank placed on its middle part, where athletes washed themselves. Regarding the adjacent western thermes, they were used for the same purpose.

Another part of the gymnasium was the so called Xystos Dromos, which means Carved Street. The name of the street refers to the surface of this road, which was very useful for them to avoid slipping during the races, because of the oils cover. This part was sheltered, and allowed the athletes to continue exercising under bad whether conditions.

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