Kos' historical sights and cultural days out

The small island of Kos is home to a wealth of historical sights from ancient ruins to churches, cathedrals and castles.

If you’re heading out for a day of exploring make sure you wear comfortable shoes suitable for walking and pack plenty of water and sun cream, as during the summer months temperatures can soar.

Take a look at some of our favourite spots across the sacred land of Asklepius, the god of healing.

Eleftherias Square

Eleftherias Square in Kos Town is a thriving and popular area home to the impressive Defterdar Mosque, known as the mosque of Kos.

You’ll also find the Municipal Market, which is rife with craft and gift shops selling authentic wares, food and spices.

Once you’ve finished searching for a bargain, take to one of the many bars and restaurants surrounding the square and spend the rest of the afternoon people watching as you enjoy some respite from the sun. Just around the corner, the Ancient Agora, exposed after the 1933 earthquake, awaits – where guests can stroll around the ruins of a Shrine of Aphrodite and temple of Hercules.

Asklepion

One of the island’s most popular archaeological sites, this ancient complex was dedicated to Asklepius, the son of Apollo and god of medicine and healing.

Easily accessed by car or shuttle train from Kos Town in under 20 minutes, visitors can enjoy a short walk through the lovely forests before arriving at the famous institution, which dates back to 400 BCE.

On the lowest level of the site, explore the medical school where healers cured patients and taught the art of healing before moving to the second level where hydrotherapy took place. On the top level the remains of the large temple can be seen and stunning views across Kos Town and the Aegean Sea will be waiting.

Paleo Pili

In the centre of the island, nestled amongst the Dikeos Mountains, sits an ancient Byzantine fortress in the old town of Pili, also knows as Paleo Pili.

A 10-minute drive from the unspoilt resort of Marmari, enjoy a beautiful climb through scattered ruins and pine forest accompanied by mountain goats and birds of prey circling above as you explore the old village buildings, some of which date back to 1088 CE.

The steps and pathways leading up to the castle require comfortable footwear and aren’t suitable for pushchairs, but you’ll find plenty of shaded spots to take a break along the way. Sip on freshly made lemonade and tuck into Greek yoghurt with honey and thyme at the authentic cafe as you soak up the breathtaking views from the terrace.

Castle of Neratzia

Visitors to Kos Town can’t miss the huge Castle of the Knights, which takes centre stage along the harbour. It was built from local stone by the Order of Saint John at the end of the 14th century.

Admire the stunning sea views as you climb to to top of the castle through courtyards littered with broken columns and carved blazons on the remaining walls.

The castle’s museum is home to a number of interesting artefacts, from sculptures and inscriptions to Roman relics and original mosaics from the castle. Outside the ancient fortress, pose for a photo under the Tree of Hippocrates, an oriental tree where Hippocrates was said to have taught his students over 2,500 years ago.

Antimachia Castle

On arrival to this formidable castle, also built by the Knights of Saint John in the 14th century, the imposing walls surrounding the vast grounds give you an idea how impressive this ancient ruin must have been in the past.

Located less than 20 minutes drive from the centre of Kardamena, besides the outer walls of the castle which have been left intact, the vast interior is dotted with overgrown paths and lizards sunbathing along the remaining stone walls.

You’ll find a quaint church at its centre which is still used by the locals today and a slow walk around the castle’s perimeter offers spectacular views over the Aegean Sea and surrounding olive groves below.

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