Kos Asklepieion

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Location: Town

The Asklepieion in Kos, Dodecanese: The Asklepieion is an ancient medical center placed 4 km to the southeast of Kos Town, beyond Platani village. It dates from the first half of the 3rd century BC and it was built to honor the god of health and medicine, Asklepios, after the death of the famous ancient Greek physician, Hippocrates. The characteristic symbol of this institution was a snake, as Greeks honored this animal due to its ability in terms of selecting curative herbs, and it can still be seen. The physicians of this hospital were also priests and a sanctuary was available for everyone who wanted to pray.

Despite the changes caused on the structure by the earthquakes, it is easy to tell apart the different rooms that were part of this building. The first terrace is enclosed by a portico with the shape of a Pi (Greek letter P), which leaves the south side open. This portico is said to hold a medical school, although this is not proven. On its east side, there is a complex of Roman baths, dating from the 3rd century AD and with some porticoes as well, which used to have precincts for the patients and their families.

The second terrace holds the oldest structure of this construction, the ruins of an altar dating from the 4th century BC. To the south, it can be found an area called where patients expected to see Asklepios apparition, in order to cure them during their dreams. To the left and the right of the altar, the ruins of two smaller temples lay as well. There are also some restored columns belonging to the Ionic Temple of Apollo (II Century BC).

Finally, on the third terrace, the remains of the Doric Temple of Asklepeion, dating from the 2nd century BC as well, can be seen. Asklepieion's center also holds a church dedicated to Panagia Tarsou, built during the early Christian period. This period may have influenced the disuse of the Asklepieion in the sense that it was never reconstructed after the earthquake, as it has many idolatry elements. What remains from this church is just a capital with the initials ICXP, meaning Jesus Christ.

This location is basically the top of a verdant hill, from which the town of Kos, as well as its suburbs, can be viewed. The nice calm and even joyful vibe that it transmits are enjoyed by tourists in our days, just like it happened with patients in the past centuries.



1 Reviews
  • Phil Harris 28 Oct 2023
    I visited the site as a tourist in October, 2023. Fascinating to hear the shock therapy they used to basically scare the wits out of patients to have a different outlook on life. Locking them in a dark chamber for the night and then pitching hundreds of snakes in through an access in the roof. I think I'd be grateful to see the light of day in the morning as well if I'd been in there with many others. Then on another level a priest would visit patients calling them by name while they hallucinated on poppy seeds that were burned in another closed chamber. Convinced the following morning they had been visited by a god. A very pleasant site with plenty of parking and a cafe and toilets on site.