The island’s most important ancient site stands on the southwest of Kos Town. A religious sanctuary devoted to Asclepius, it was also a healing centre and a school of medicine. It was founded in the 3rd century BC, according to a legend by Hippocrates, the ‘father’ of medicine. The ruins occupy three levels, with the propylaeum, Roman-era public baths and remains of guest rooms on the first level. The second holds an altar of Kyparissios Apollo, with the Temple to Apollo to the east and the first Temple of Asclepius to the west. The remains of its successor, the once-magnificent Temple of Asclepius, are on the third level. A small museum on the path down preserves ancient inscriptions.
Kos’ ancient centre is an important market, political and social hub which occupies a large area south of the castle. Back in the 4th century BC, this was the first town ever laid out in blocks. Landmarks include a massive columned stoa, the ruins of a Shrine of Aphrodite, 2nd-century BC Temple of Hercules and 5th-century Christian basilica. The site is fenced but usually open all day.
The Knights Castle
The Knights Castle, built on the ruins of an ancient fortress, stands right at the entrance of the port of Kos’ town. The castle has two rounds of walls and was an islet until the beginning of the 20th century, as in the place of today’s Foinikes Avenue, there was a ditch filled with sea water separating the castle from the land. The castle was connected to the mainland near the location of the Hippocrates Plane tree by a bridge that is still preserved.