Ancient Temple of Asklipion on Greek Island of Kos
Click for Kos Greek Island Guide

temple of asklipion kosAsklepios was the ancient Greek God of Healing and was worshiped in temples all over Greece. Much like hospitals are in population centers today, temples to Asklepios existed then.

Epidavros in the Peloponnese is the main example of a famous well preserved temple to Asklepios as is the really poor condition precinct of Asklepios next to the Theater of Dionysus on the south slope of the Acropolis in Athens.

In Kos however, is a nicely preserved and beautifully located temple precinct devoted to Asklepios which is well worth a visit if you are in the Dodecanese.

The Asklepion of Kos lies 4 km from Kos town and was first re-located and identified by island resident George Zaraphties. in 1902 the German archeologist Herzog began systematic excavations which culminated with the italians and their extensive restorations. Situated near the foot of Mt. Oromedon (847m) the area is fed by many springs and has a healthy, well watered and fertile aspect. The ruins consist of three terraces.

the retaining wallOne enters the sanctuary passing the Roman baths of which the plunge pool and hypocausts are well preserved. Originally surrounded on 3 sides by columns and roofed, the massive retaining wall (left) is all that partially remains. Near the middle is a fountain and the remains of a small temple with a pedestal recording a statue as Nero as Asklepious and dedicated by Xenophon a court physician.  This terrace is believed to have been where the Asklepian festivals were held which included athletic and other contests.

Kos ruins fothe BascilicaThe middle terrace above houses the oldest structure on the site, a late 4th C BC Ionic temple with exceptionally nice capitals of painted marble. This temple was embellished by paintings by Apelles and thought to include the Anadyomene Aphroditi later removed to Rome by Augustus. Behind the temple the remains of a Roman house built on Greek foundations probably was the home of the head priest. The Great Altar in the form pf the Greek letter PI is in front of the temple on the left and has a central staircase. To its left is a Roman Temple in a peripteral Ionic form with exceptional half fluted columns and entablature some of which remains.

sanctuary area kos asklepionThe Upper Terrace was the site of the Sacred Wood and on it was the large peripteral Doric temple of Asklepios with 6 columns by 11. The Pronaos is well preserved and has a black monolithic threshold of limestone.

During the Christian era the temple housed the chapel of the Virgin of Tarsou of which the alter still survives. Houses were later built around the terraces but have been removed. The upper terrace provides a panoramic view of the town of Kos and its harbor and surrounding country side. To the east across the waters may be seen Bodrum Turkey or ancient Halicarnassus. Read more about the Sanctuary of Asklepios on Kos

 

click for kos guide