Kos or Cos (English: /kɒs/ or /kɔːs/) (Greek: Κως, Greek
pronunciation: [kos]) is a Greek island, part of the Dodecanese
island chain in the southeastern Aegean Sea, off the Anatolian coast
Kos is the third largest island of the
Dodecanese by area,
Rhodes and Karpathos; it has a population of 33,388 (2011
census), making it the second most populous of the Dodecanese, after
Rhodes. The island measures 40 by 8 kilometres (25 by 5 miles), and
is 4 km (2 miles) from the coast of the ancient region of Caria
in Turkey. Administratively,
Kos constitutes a municipality within the
Kos regional unit, which is part of the
South Aegean region. The
principal town of the island and seat of the municipality is Kos
7.1 Turkish population
8.2 Ancient Agora
10 Notable people
11 In popular culture
12 See also
14 External links
Kos (Ancient Greek: Κῶς, genitive Κῶ) is first
attested in the Iliad, and has been in continuous use since. Other
ancient names include Meropis, Cea, and Nymphaea.
In many Romance languages,
Kos was formerly known as Stancho,
Stanchio, or Stinco, and in Ottoman and modern Turkish it is known as
İstanköy, all from the reinterpretation of the Greek expression
εις την Κω 'to Kos'; cf. the similar Istanbul, and
Stimpoli, Crete. Under the rule of the
Knights Hospitaller of Rhodes,
it was known as Lango or Langò, presumably because of its
length. In The Travels of Sir John Mandeville, the author
misunderstands this and treats Lango and
Kos as distinct islands.
In Italian, the island is known as Coo.
A person from
Kos is called a "Koan" in English. The word is also an
adjective, as in "Koan goods".
Kos is in the Aegean Sea. Its coastline is 112 kilometres (70 miles)
long and it extends from west to east.
In addition to the main town and port, also called Kos, the main
Kos island are Kardamena, Kefalos, Tingaki, Antimachia,
Mastihari, Marmari and Pyli. Smaller ones are Zia, Zipari, Platani,
Lagoudi and Asfendiou.
The present municipality of
Kos was created in 2011 with the merger of
three municipalities, which became municipal units:
The municipality has an area of 290.313 km2, the municipal unit 67.200
Tourism is the main industry in Kos, the island's
beaches being the primary attraction. The main port and population
centre on the island,
Kos town, is also the tourist and cultural
centre, with whitewashed buildings including many hotels, restaurants
and a number of nightclubs forming the
Kos town "barstreet". The
seaside village of
Kardamena is a popular resort for young
holidaymakers (primarily from the
United Kingdom and Scandinavia) and
has a large number of bars and nightclubs.
Farming is the second principal occupation, with the main crops being
grapes, almonds, figs, olives, and tomatoes, along with wheat and
corn. Cos lettuce may be grown here, but the name is
Further information: Ancient Greece, Roman Greece, Byzantine Greece,
Knights Hospitaller, Ottoman Greece, and Italian Islands of the Aegean
Ancient Roman mosaic depicting the Abduction of Europa in the House
of Europa in the Western Archaeological Zone of
View of the Asclepeion
Ruins of the Ancient Gymnasion
View of the ancient Odeon
Kos by Olfert Dapper, Amsterdam, 1702
Nerantzia Castle (Hospitalier period)
In Homer's Iliad, a contingent of Koans fought for the Greeks in the
In classical mythology the founder-king of
Kos was Merops, hence
"Meropian Kos" is included in the archaic Delian amphictyony listed in
the 7th-century Homeric hymn to Delian Apollo; the island was visited
The island was originally colonised by the Carians. The Dorians
invaded it in the 11th century BC, establishing a Dorian colony with a
large contingent of settlers from Epidaurus, whose
Asclepius cult made
their new home famous for its sanatoria. The other chief sources of
the island's wealth lay in its wines and, in later days, in its silk
Its early history–as part of the religious-political amphictyony
that included Lindos, Kamiros, Ialysos,
Cnidus and Halicarnassus, the
Dorian Hexapolis (hexapolis means six cities in Greek),–is
obscure. At the end of the 6th century,
Kos fell under Achaemenid
domination but rebelled after the Greek victory at the Battle of
Mycale in 479. During the Greco-Persian Wars, before it twice expelled
the Persians, it was ruled by Persian-appointed tyrants, but as a rule
it seems to have been under oligarchic government. In the 5th century,
it joined the Delian League, and, after the revolt of Rhodes, it
served as the chief Athenian station in the south-eastern Aegean
(411–407). In 366 BC, a democracy was instituted. In 366 BC, the
capital was transferred from
Astypalaia (at the west end of the island
near the modern village of Kefalos) to the newly built town of Kos,
laid out in a
Hippodamian grid. After helping to weaken Athenian
power, in the Social War (357-355 BC), it fell for a few years to the
Mausolus of Caria.
Proximity to the east gave the island first access to imported silk
Aristotle mentions silk weaving conducted by the women of the
island. Silk production of garments was conducted in large
factories by women slaves.
In the Hellenistic period,
Kos attained the zenith of its prosperity.
Its alliance was valued by the Ptolemaic kings of Egypt, who used it
as a naval outpost to oversee the Aegean. As a seat of learning, it
arose as a provincial branch of the museum of Alexandria, and became a
favorite resort for the education of the princes of the Ptolemaic
dynasty. During the Hellenistic age, there was a medical school;
however, the theory that this school was founded by
below) during the
Classical age is an unwarranted extrapolation.
Diodorus Siculus (xv. 76) and
Strabo (xiv. 657) describe it as a
well-fortified port. Its position gave it a high importance in Aegean
trade; while the island itself was rich in wines of considerable
Alexander the Great
Alexander the Great and the Egyptian Ptolemies the
town developed into one of the great centers in the Aegean;
Strabo to the effect that Mithridates was sent to
Kos to fetch the gold deposited there by queen Cleopatra of Egypt.
Herod is said to have provided an annual stipend for the benefit of
prize-winners in the athletic games, and a statue was erected
there to his son
Herod the Tetrarch
Herod the Tetrarch ("C. I. G." 2502 ). Paul briefly
visited here according to Acts 21:1.
Except for occasional incursions by corsairs and some severe
earthquakes, the island has rarely had its peace disturbed. Following
the lead of its larger neighbour, Rhodes,
Kos generally displayed a
friendly attitude toward the Romans; in 53 AD it was made a free city.
It was known in antiquity for the manufacture of transparent light
dresses, the coae vestes. The island of
Kos also featured a
provincial library during the Roman period. The island first became a
center for learning during the Ptolemaic dynasty, and Hippocrates,
Philitas and possibly
Theocritus came from the area. An
inscription lists people who made contributions to build the library
in the 1st century AD. One of the people responsible for the
library's construction was the
Kos doctor Gaiou Stertinou Xenofontos,
who lived in Rome and was the personal physician of the Emperors
Tiberius, Claudius, and Nero.
The bishopric of
Kos was a suffragan of the metropolitan see of
Rhodes. Its bishop Meliphron attended the First Council of Nicaea
in 325. Eddesius was one of the minority Eastern bishops who withdrew
Council of Sardica in about 344 and set up a rival council at
Philippopolis. Iulianus went to the synod held in Constantinople in
448 in preparation for the
Council of Chalcedon
Council of Chalcedon of 451, in which he
participated as a legate of Pope Leo I, and he was a signatory of the
joint letter that the bishops of the
Roman province of Insulae sent in
Leo I the Thracian
Leo I the Thracian with regard to the killing
of Proterius of Alexandria. Dorotheus took part in a synod in 518.
Georgius was a participant of the
Third Council of Constantinople
Third Council of Constantinople in
680–681. Constantinus went to the Photian Council of Constantinople
(879). Under Byzantine rule, apart from the participation of
its bishops in councils, the island's history remains obscure. It was
governed by a droungarios in the 8th–9th centuries, and seems to
have acquired some importance in the 11th and 12th centuries:
Nikephoros Melissenos began his uprising here, and in the middle of
the 12th century, it was governed by a scion of the ruling Komnenos
dynasty, Nikephoros Komnenos.
Today the metropolis of
Kos remains under the direct authority of the
Patriarchate of Constantinople, rather than the Church of Greece, and
is also listed by the
Catholic Church as a titular see.
Following the Fourth Crusade,
Kos passed under Genoese control,
although it was retaken in ca. 1224 and kept for a while by the Empire
of Nicaea. In the 1320s,
Kos nominally formed part of the realm of
Martino Zaccaria, but was most likely in the hands of Turkish corsairs
until ca. 1337, when the
Knights Hospitaller took over the island.
The last Hospitaller governor of the island was Piero de Ponte.
Ottoman Empire captured the island in early 1523. The Ottomans
Kos for almost 400 years, until it was transferred to the
Kingdom of Italy
Kingdom of Italy in 1912 after the Italo-Turkish War. The Italians
developed the infrastructures of the island, after the ruinous
earthquake of 23 April 1933, which destroyed a great part of the old
city and damaged many new buildings. Architect Rodolfo Petracco drew
up the new city plan, transforming the old quarters into an
archaeological park, and dividing the new city into a residential, an
administrative, and a commercial area., In World War II, the
island, as Italian possession, was part of the Axis. It was controlled
by Italian troops until the
Italian surrender in 1943. On that
occasion, 100 Italian officers who had refused to join the Germans
were executed. British and German forces then clashed for control of
the island in the
Battle of Kos
Battle of Kos as part of the
Dodecanese Campaign, in
which the Germans were victorious. German troops occupied the island
until 1945, when it became a protectorate of the United Kingdom, which
ceded it to
Greece in 1947 following the Paris peace treaty.
The island is part of a chain of mountains from which it became
separated after earthquakes and subsidence that occurred in ancient
times. These mountains include
Kalymnos and Kappari which are
separated by an underwater chasm c. 70 metres (230 ft) (40
fathoms deep), as well as the volcano of
Nisyros and the surrounding
There is a wide variety of rocks in
Kos which is related to its
geographical formation. Prominent among these are the Quaternary
layers in which the fossil remains of mammals such as horses,
hippopotami and elephants have been found. The
fossilised molar of an elephant of gigantic proportions was presented
Paleontology Museum of the University of Athens.[citation
Main article: Turks of the Dodecanese
In the late 1920s about 3,700 Turks lived in
Kos city, slightly less
than 50% of the population, who settled mainly in the west part of the
city. Today, the population of the Turkish community in
been estimated at about 2,000 people.
The Cathedral of the city of Kos
The people of
Kos are predominantly Orthodox Christians - one of the
four Orthodox cathedrals in the
Dodecanese is located in Kos. In
addition, there is a Roman Catholic church on the island and a mosque
for the Turkish-speaking Muslim community. The synagogue is no longer
used for religious ceremonies as the Jewish community of
targeted and destructed by occupying Nazi forces in World War II. It
has, however, been restored and is maintained with all religious
symbols intact and is now used by the Municipality of
Kos for various
events, mainly cultural.
The Byzantine Antimachia Castle
The island has a 14th-century fortress at the entrance to its harbour,
erected in 1315 by the Knights Hospitaller, and another from the
Byzantine period in Antimachia.
View of the municipal market, built in 1934–35 by architect Rodolfo
The ancient market place of
Kos was considered one of the biggest in
the ancient world. It was the commercial and commanding centre at the
heart of the ancient city. It was organized around a spacious
rectangular yard 50 metres (160 ft) wide and 300 metres
(980 ft) long. It began in the Northern area and ended up south
on the central road (Decumanus) which went through the city. The
northern side connected to the city wall towards the entrance to the
harbour. Here there was a monumental entrance. On the eastern side
there were shops. In the first half of the 2nd century BC, the
building was extended toward the interior yard. The building was
destroyed in an earthquake in 469 AD.
In the southern end of the market, there was a round building with a
Roman dome and a workshop which produced pigments including "Egyptian
Blue". Coins, treasures, and copper statues from Roman times were
later uncovered by archeologists. In the western side excavations led
to the findings of rooms with mosaic floors which showed beastfights,
a theme quite popular in Kos.
The ancient physician
Hippocrates is thought to have been born on Kos,
and in the center of the town is the Plane Tree of Hippocrates, a
dream temple where the physician is traditionally supposed to have
taught. The limbs of the now elderly tree are supported by
scaffolding. The small city is also home to the International
Hippocratic Institute and the
Hippocratic Museum dedicated to him.
Near the Institute are the ruins of Asklepieion, where Herodicus
Epicharmus of Kos (6th-5th century BC), comic playwright
Hippocrates (5th century BC), "father of medicine".
Philitas of Cos (4th century BC), poet and scholar.
Michael Kefalianos, professional bodybuilder.
Marika Papagika, early 20th century singer.
Kostas Skandalidis, former Interior Minister of
Greece and close
associate of Prime Minister Andreas Papandreou.
Al Campanis, Major League Baseball player and executive.
Stergos Marinos, international footballer currently playing for
Şükrü Kaya, Turkish politician, who served as Minister of the
Interior and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Turkey. He was one of the
perpetrators of the Armenian Genocide.
In popular culture
Kos is the location of Skirmisher Publishing's Swords of
Campaign Setting and also appears in a number of its affiliated
adventures and works of fiction.
List of volcanoes in Greece
Battle of Kos
The disappearance of Ben Needham in 1991.
^ a b c "Απογραφή Πληθυσμού - Κατοικιών
2011. ΜΟΝΙΜΟΣ Πληθυσμός" (in Greek). Hellenic
^ a b Kallikratis law
Greece Ministry of Interior (in Greek)
^ Liddell et al., A Greek–English Lexicon, s.v.
^ Pliny cites
Staphylus of Naucratis for this name in the Natural
History 5:36, but Peck apparently misinterprets Staphylus as a name of
^ Harry Thurston Peck, Harper's Dictionary of Classical Antiquities,
1898, s.v. Cos
^ C.S. Sonnini, Travels in
Greece and Turkey, undertaken by order of
Louis XVI, and with the authority of the Ottoman court, London, 1801,
1 p. 212
^ A handbook for travellers in Greece, Murray's Handbooks, 4th
edition, London, 1872, p. 364
^ H.J.A. Sire, The Knights of Malta, Yale, 1996, ISBN 0300068859,
^ Anthony Bale, trans., The Book of Marvels and Travels, Oxford 2012,
ISBN 0199600600, p. 15 and footnote
Kos Island Today. Kosisland.gr.
^ "Population & housing census 2001 (incl. area and average
elevation)" (PDF) (in Greek). National Statistical Service of Greece.
Archived from the original (PDF) on 21 September 2015.
Iliad ii.676, from "Kos, the city of Eurypylus, and the Calydnae
isles", under the leaders Phidippos and Antiphos, "sons of the
Thessalian king". It is unclear whether
Homer is describing cultural
affiliations of his own time or remembered traditions of Mycenaean
^ Hercules in Kos. Kosinfo.gr.
^ Money, Power And Gender:Evidence For Influential Women Represented
And Sculpture On Kos. None.
^ The Princeton Encyclopedia of Classical Sites (eds. Richard
Stillwell, et al.), s.v. "Kos".
^ A Treatise on the Origin, Progressive Improvement, and Present State
of the Silk Manufacture at Google Books
^ Introduction to the New Testament, p. 83, at Google Books
^ Vincenzo Di Benedetto: Cos e Cnido, in: Hippocratica - Actes du
Colloque hippocratique de Paris 4-9 septembre 1978, ed. M. D. Grmek,
Paris 1980, 97-111, see also Antoine Thivel: Cnide et
Cos ? : essai sur les doctrines médicales dans la
collection hippocratique, Paris 1981 (passim),
ISBN 22-51-62021-4; cf. the review by
Otta Wenskus (on JSTOR).
^ Pliny, xxxv. 46
^ "Ant." xiv. 7, § 2
^ Josephus, "B. J." i. 21, § 11
^ Smith, William, ed. (1854). "Cos". Dictionary of Greek and
Roman Geography. 1. London: John Murray.
^ "Libraries of Greece". Annette Lamb. Retrieved 2015-03-28.
^ "The Asklepion of
Kos – Home of Modern Medicine". The Skibbereen
Eagle. Retrieved 2015-03-28.
^ a b c d e Gregory, Timothy E. (1991). "Kos". In Kazhdan, Alexander.
The Oxford Dictionary of Byzantium. Oxford and New York: Oxford
University Press. p. 1150. ISBN 978-0-19-504652-6.
^ Raymond Janin, v. Cos in Dictionnaire d'Histoire et de Géographie
ecclésiastiques, vol. XIII, Paris 1956, coll. 927-928
^ Pius Bonifacius Gams, Series episcoporum Ecclesiae Catholicae,
Leipzig 1931, p. 448
^ Annuario Pontificio 2013 (Libreria Editrice Vaticana 2013
ISBN 978-88-209-9070-1), p. 875
^ Bertarelli, Luigi Vittorio (1929). Guida d'Italia Vol. XVII. Milano:
C.T.I. p. Sub voce "Storia".
^ G. Rocco, M. Livadiotti, Il piano regolatore di
Kos del 1934: un
progetto di città archeologica, "Thiasos", 1, 2012, pp. 10-2
^ Bertarelli, Luigi Vittorio (1929). Guida d'Italia, Vol. XVII (1st
ed.). Milano: CTI. p. 145.
^ Ürkek bir siyasetin tarih önündeki ağır vebali, p. 142, at
^ Ancient Sites of the Harbour and Market Place. Kosinfo.gr.
Michael Kefalianos – Bio MichaelKefalianos.com
^ Steve Sullivan (4 October 2013). Encyclopedia of Great Popular Song
Recordings. Scarecrow Press. p. 742.
Stergos Marinos biography" (in Greek). Stergos Marinos' official
website. Archived from the original on 22 March 2014. Retrieved 13
^ Who is who database - Biography of
Şükrü Kaya (in Turkish)
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Kos.
Kos travel guide from Wikivoyage
The 12 major islands
Adelfoi Syrnas Islets
Agioi Theodoroi Halkis
Makry Aspronisi Leipson
Megalo Aspronisi Leipson
Administrative division of the
Southern Aegean Region
5,286 km2 (2,041 sq mi)
309,015 (as of 2011)
34 (since 2011)
Regional unit of Andros
Regional unit of Kalymnos
Regional unit of Karpathos
Regional unit of Kea-Kythnos
Regional unit of Kos
Regional unit of Milos
Regional unit of Mykonos
Regional unit of Naxos
Naxos and Lesser Cyclades
Regional unit of Paros
Regional unit of Rhodes
Regional unit of Syros
Regional unit of Thira
Regional unit of Tinos
Giorgos Hadjimarkos (since 2014)
Subdivisions of the municipality of Kos
Municipal unit of Dikaios
Municipal unit of Irakleides
Municipal unit of Kos
Küçük Tavşan Adası
Agios Georgios Skopelou
Third Journey of Paul the Apostle
7. Macedonia (again)