The Island that heals
If, like almost all of us, you’ve needed the services of a doctor sometime, you have a connection with the eastern Aegean island of Kos whether you know it or not. Hippocrates, the big daddy of Western medicine, was born and practiced here. And if that by itself isn’t making you feel better already, here’s Kos in a bit more detail for a bigger dose of wellness.
Kos is a long island in the southeastern Aegean, one of a more or less continuing chain stretching from Rhodes in the south to Lesvos in the north. As such it has easy communications with other islands. The island was first settled in the 4th century BC, and rapidly grew into a major trading centre.
From the island’s airport, isolated in grasslands at the eastern end of the island, it’s a 15-mile tour coach or taxi ride to Kos town. The road winds between sandstone gullies and odd farms, where a few cattle nibble the dry grass. To the right rises the 2,250-foot peak of Christ the Just, after which the road delves into the narrow streets of the town before ending up on the wide and airy waterfront.
Kos town contains an old plane tree that’s associated with an ancestor tree under which Hippocrates is said to have sat lecturing his medical students. The local hospital is named after him, of course. Kos, in fact, is a healing island. Forget guzzling the lager until you’re blind. The palm tree-lined seafront of Kos town has plenty of smart tavernas fronting the shingle beaches, and enough to feast the eyes on without spending all your valuable time propped up on a bar.
In September 2008 the whole town became one great wi-fi spot, so you can bring your laptop and check your e-mails literally anywhere. You can even e-mail your doctor from Hippocrates’ birthplace!
A lot of the architecture of Kos is Italian colonial style, especially the Country Hall. The Italian occupation of the Dodecanese islands, which ended in 1947, brought benefit in the archaeologists who got busy digging up the island’s rich past. Most of the finds thus unearthed are now in the Archaeological Museum at Eleftherias Square. Naturally, many of them have some Hippocratic theme or other, including mosaics and statues of him.
Not far from the waterfront is the outdoor archaeological site, the Agora, that’s worth a stroll through. Some of it is reminiscent of the Roman Forum, with banks of old brickwork and trees rising above the ruins. Also to be seen is the Roman-era villa called the Casa Romana with its exquisite floor mosaics.
The biggest archaeological attraction of Kos is the Asklipieion Temple, about two and a half miles southeast of the town, offering a spectacular view of the sea and Turkish coast. Built about a couple of hundred years before Christ, the temple took its name from Asklepios, the ancient Greek healing deity. It served as a medical school as well as a sanctuary, and has been partly restored to give an impression of its original size.
Tradition has it that this is where Hippocrates worked out his famous oath, taken by all Western doctors today as a concise code of medical ethics. If you’re into that sort of thing, you can hear it declaimed in ancient Greek, under those same columns, every August during a music festival called – you guessed it – the Hippocrateia.
The place became famous in the 3rd century BC as a sanctuary, where one could escape war and violence. Ancient historians tell us that when a patient went there to be cured of some malady, the god Asklepios appeared to the patient in a dream to suggest the course of treatment. Then the professional doctors would get to work. It has been suggested that the patients’ subconscious processes aided in the healing of what were essentially psychosomatic ailments.
Not far from the Asklepieion is Psalidi, a nature wetland where, besides swimming on sandy beaches, you can see rare birds and plants. Go along the road past Psalidi and come to Therma, named after the hot springs of the area. If you need a healing of any sort, here’s where to go, to let the sulphuric vapours go their therapeutic work.
Kardamena is on the southern shore about 22 miles from Kos town but just three miles from the airport. There are many interesting archaeological treasures to be seen, such as the Temple of Apollo and the early Christian basilicas. But man can’t live on culture alone, so it’s pleasing to know that each summer Kardamena is the site of a “whitebait festival” (a kind of small, tasty fish) in which you can have all the fish you can eat and the wine you can hold.
Antimachia is an inland village just outside the airport, famous for its honey. The community is dominated by bee-keeping and honey-making businesses, and, to stimulate the local mini-economy, holds an annual honey festival. You might even get into the habit of putting honey in your tea. It’s healthier than sugar.
Mastihari, on the northern shore within sight of the famous sponge-divers’ island of Kalymnos, is the place where Kos’ best beaches can be found. And when you get hungry, the village fishermen have plenty of their catch on hand for a low-fat lunch. The local wine is also good, and for a bit of variety you can take a boat to nearby Kalymnos.
On the western tip of Kos, 30 miles from the town, are the villages of Kefalos and Aghios Nikolaos. Hereabouts is a monastery associated with the name of Saint John the Theologian, the writer of the Book of Revelation who lived on nearby Patmos.
Worth mentioning here is Nisyros, the next island down, so to speak, an hour from Kardamena. Nisyros may be small, but it’s pretty, dominated by an extinct volcano. The ancient Greeks had a yobbish myth associated with this. Zeus, the chief of the gods, got to where he was by overthrowing an older line of deities called the Titans. Helping him was his brother Poseidon, god of the sea. Poseidon was in the process of chasing a Titan when he hurled his trident at Kos, breaking off a chunk of the island. This chunk fell on top of the Titan. He turned into the volcano of Kalymnos. No wonder.
Like many Greek islands, Kos leaves a bit to be desired in the public transport sector. There are local buses in the town, as we mentioned before, but you can also rent a car, motorbike, bicycle, or one of those go-carts made up of metal tubing that put-put along the roads serenely. Kos town has plenty of bicycle lanes, and pedaling up and down the waterfront of an evening gives you a good workout after all that basking in the sun. Town buses run until 2 in the morning, and they’ll be running on a round-the-clock schedule as of 2009.
For a relaxing tour of Kos town you can take a mini-train (on wheels, that is, not on rails). There are two of them: the green City Tour train and the blue Asklepieion Tour, both trundling a course about twenty minutes long.
Kos has one of Greece’s better-equipped yacht marinas, able to berth 230 boats and with a full range of facilities and services available.
It goes without saying that there are enough hotels, beaches, water sports and everything else to please the most jaded holidaymaker. In the food sector, tavernas abound with traditional Greek island fare, while smarter restaurants cater to the smarter set. The Italian influence is also felt, with an adequate number of pizzerias that serve creditable pasta as well. There is, of course, no lack of bars, and as for music, whether your tastes run to retro rock, hip-hop or Greek bouzouki, the choice is yours.
• From the town of Kos and the palm tree-lined avenue and castle by the port to the suburbs with their Venetian-era homes.
• To the ancient healing centre of Asklepios to Hippocrates’ Garden.
• To the mountain village of Zia.
• To the mediaeval castle at Antimacheia.
• To Palaio Pyli, the castle-town with its small Byzantine churches.
• To the Thermi warm springs
Local sweetmeats might be more appreciated by the folks back home, including the Antimachia honey we mentioned earlier, baklava (an oriental sticky sweet pastry with walnuts and honey) or the island’s candied tomatoes. Another Koan culinary curiosity is the wine cheese, a kind of goat cheese cured in red wine. The result on the palate is fascinating, and you can even take some back home. Some of the villages of Kos still make a bittersweet cinnamon liqueur, while neighbouring Nisyros is the home of “soumada,” a soft drink made of bitter almonds.
The beach of Kardamena, situated in front of the homonymous tourist resort, is found at a distance of 29 kilometers southwestern to the town of Kos. It is a long beach, extended at both sides of the village, within a nice landscape overgrown and full of flowers. Food is good in the area and you may choose among several fish taverns, traditional taverns and trendy restaurants.
Kardamena is a village located 30 kilometres from Kos town and 5 kilometres from “Hippocrates” International Airport. There are many interesting archaeological treasures to be seen, such as the Temple of Apollo, the early Christian Basilicas and the Ancient Theatre.
And since you’ll be needing some rest after sightseeing, Kardamena also offers beautiful sandy beaches with a variety of water sports and daily boat services to Nisyros, the neighbouring volcano island that you ought to visit. At summer time, at Kardamena’s White Bait Festival, join locals at a tradition that promises a lot of dancing and incredible fun!
Tingaki is well renowned for it’s long sandy beach and shallow waters along the front. The resort is only 12 km from Kos Town and has a regular Bus Service. It is an excellent beach for kids, with tavernas and snack bars just nearby. Just 12 km from Kos Town, this small friendly resort boasts a beautiful sandy beach with clear, shallow waters, watersports. The one main street here has many tavernas and restaurants to choose from offering traditional as well as international cuisine.
On the northern coast of Kos, Marmari has a delightful sandy beach with wonderful views to the islands of Kalymnos and Pserimos and there are plenty of watersports for the more active. Marmari – Kos is situated at the end of the plain, 5 km from Pyli and its still virgin territory in tourist development. Marmari has one beach only, which happens to be beautiful and endless, with hotel complexes, country tavernas and cafeterias. Marmari is the perfect spot for a quiet vacation without hordes of people.
Marmari beaches have crystal blue waters and white sand. Relaxation comes as standard, the area is quiet and unspoiled even thought there are quite a number of restaurants and bars to choose where to have dinner or a drink.
(Text by www.dodekanissaweb.gr)
Kos Marina premises are patrolled 24 hours by guards. Cameras cover all over the complex Kos Marina. Fire Precaution. All piers are equipped with fire stations with fire extinguishers; alarm system; fire hoses with both fresh and seawater circuit. All piers are equipped with emergency stations comprising lifebuoys, lifelines, emergency telephones and rescue ladders.
Pilot speedboat, WC-showers, Trolleys, Parking Lot, Bilge pump out, Sewerage pump out, Waste oil disposal, Refuse containers, Fuel station.
Administration Building with Reception, Authorities, Info centre, Meeting room & Guests’ Suites. Weather report, Internet, telephone and facsimile services are offered in the Marina’s Info Centre, where meetings and events can be organized. Bank ATM, Baggage storage and Postal services are available.
Shopping center with Cafeteria-bistro, Restaurant, Super Market, Fruits Market, Laundry, Yachts Chandlers Shops, Safety Equipment, Souvenirs shops, Boutique, Rent a car, Yacht Brokers, Yachting & Travel Agencies.
Dry storage area adequate for 150 yachts
100 Tone Boat lift (ASCOM)
35 Tonne Hydraulic trailer
Contact Details for Kos Marina
Working hours: 07:00 to 22:00 (Monday to Sunday)
Tel. 0030 22420 57500
Fax 0030 22420 57525
(Text by www.kosmarina.gr)
I SWEAR by Apollo the physician, AEsculapius, and Health, and All-heal, and all the gods and goddesses, that, according to my ability and judgment, I will keep this Oath and this stipulation.
TO RECHON him who taught me this Art equally dear to me as my parents, to share my substance with him, and relieve his necessities if required; to look up his offspring in the same footing as my own brothers, and to teach them this art, if they shall wish to learn it, without fee or stipulation; and that by precept, lecture, and every other mode of instruction, I will impart a knowledge of the Art to my own sons, and those of my teachers, and to disciples bound by a stipulation and oath according the law of medicine, but to none others.
I WILL FOLLOW that system of regimen which, according to my ability and judgment, I consider for the benefit of my patients, and abstain from whatever is deleterious and mischievous. I will give no deadly medicine to any one if asked, nor suggest any such counsel; and in like manner I will not give a woman a pessary to produce abortion.
WITH PURITY AND WITH HOLINESS I will pass my life and practice my Art. I will not cut persons laboring under the stone, but will leave this to be done by men who are practitioners of this work. Into whatever houses I enter, I will go into them for the benefit of the sick, and will abstain from every voluntary act of mischief and corruption; and, further from the seduction of females or males, of freemen and slaves.
WHATEVER, IN CONNECTION with my professional practice or not, in connection with it, I see or hear, in the life of men, which ought not to be spoken of abroad, I will not divulge, as reckoning that all such should be kept secret.
WHILE I CONTINUE to keep this Oath unviolated, may it be granted to me to enjoy life and the practice of the art, respected by all men, in all times! But should I trespass and violate this Oath, may the reverse be my lot!
I SWEAR in the presence of the Almighty and before my family, my teachers and my peers that according to my ability and judgment I will keep this Oath and Stipulation.
TO RECKON all who have taught me this art equally dear to me as my parents and in the same spirit and dedication to impart a knowledge of the art of medicine to others. I will continue with diligence to keep abreast of advances in medicine. I will treat without exception all who seek my ministrations, so long as the treatment of others is not compromised thereby, and I will seek the counsel of particularly skilled physicians where indicated for the benefit of my patient.
I WILL FOLLOW that method of treatment which according to my ability and judgment, I consider for the benefit of my patient and abstain from whatever is harmful or mischievous. I will neither prescribe nor administer a lethal dose of medicine to any patient even if asked nor counsel any such thing nor perform the utmost respect for every human life from fertilization to natural death and reject abortion that deliberately takes a unique human life.
WITH PURITY, HOLINESS AND BENEFICENCE I will pass my life and practice my art. Except for the prudent correction of an imminent danger, I will neither treat any patient nor carry out any research on any human being without the valid informed consent of the subject or the appropriate legal protector thereof, understanding that research must have as its purpose the furtherance of the health of that individual. Into whatever patient setting I enter, I will go for the benefit of the sick and will abstain from every voluntary act of mischief or corruption and further from the seduction of any patient.
WHATEVER IN CONNECTION with my professional practice or not in connection with it I may see or hear in the lives of my patients which ought not be spoken abroad, I will not divulge, reckoning that all such should be kept secret.
WHILE I CONTINUE to keep this Oath unviolated may it be granted to me to enjoy life and the practice of the art and science of medicine with the blessing of the Almighty and respected by my peers and society, but should I trespass and violate this Oath, may the reverse by my lot.
“The Hippocratia” organized by the Municipality of Kos from July to September. This festival includes the reading of the Hippocratic Oath, classical and other music concerts, theatrical works, ancient tragedies, folklore exhibitions, art, sculpture & photography exhibitions, traditional dances and song, special educational – entertainment events for children and yacht races.
“The Dikea” organized by the Municipality of Dikeos during July and August. This festival includes concerts, theatrical performances, traditional dances, new book presentations, events for children and sports.
“The Heraclia” organized by the Municipality of Iraklidon during July and August. This festival includes concerts, theatrical performances, traditional music and dance, and photography exhibitions.
The feast of Agios Ioannis is also celebrated on 28th August in Mastichari, the birthday of the Virgin on 8th September in Kardamena, Aghios Ioannis on 28th August and the Presentation of the Virgin in the Temple on 21st November in Kephalos and Aghios Dimitrios on 26th October in Asfendiou. During summer each year celebrations are organized on Kos with a purely local timbre relating to island products or fishing.
During the first week of August a Wine Festival is held in Mastihari while during the first half of the same month there is a Fish Festival and Honey Festival in Kefalos and Antimachia respectively. Moreover, during the first ten days of October a Fish Festival is held in Kardamena.
Lastly, Carnival is celebrated with float parades, primarily in Antimachia and Pili.
From July until August, the festival Hippocratia takes place in the town of Kos.
The festival includes a series of cultural events such as concerts by Greek artists and local groups, performances of ancient Greek and contemporary plays, performances of traditional and modern dance and various art exhibitions.
The majority of the events are taking place in the Medieval Castle, on Eleftherios Square, at the Orpheus Theatre and at the 3rd primary school of Kos.
The cultural events Alasarnia are taking place at the town of Kardamena. In the same village, on the 7th of August, a religious festival is celebrating the “birth of the Virgin Mary” and various festivities are taking place.
At the beginning of August, a screening of a Theatrical play is held at the village of Antimachia, as well as performances of traditional dances and songs and a celebration of traditional food. Also in Antimachia, the Honey Festival is celebrated on the 24th of August, during which visitors can taste various delicacies made with local honey.
On the 27th of September, an evening with traditional music is taking place at the village of Kephalos, for the International Day of Tourism.
On the 21st of November a religious festival is celebrating the Presentation of the Virgin at the village of Kephalos.
The Kos Winter Festival is held from the 7th until the 17th of March at the town of Kos, during which various music, theatre and dances performances as well as art exhibitions and film projections.
(Text by www.dodekanissaweb.gr)
Mastichari Tourist Information – Tel: 0030 22420 49508
Kardamena Tourist Information – Tel: 0030 22420 49508
Kefalos Tourist Information – Tel: 0030 22420 49509
Nisyros Tourist Information – Tel: 0030 22420 31204
Kos Marina – Tel: 0030 22420 57500
Greek National Tourism Office in Kos – Tel: 0030 22420 26594