Beyond Platani stands the island’s most famous and interesting ancient site, the ASKLEPIEION.
Kos’ native son Hippocrates is rightly remembered with street names, statues, a medical centre and even a tree. But he is mostly celebrated at this ancient sanatorium, founded in 444 BC not long after his death, which is now a major tourist attraction.
It was both a temple to the Asklepius, the god of healing, and a renowned Hellenic medical centre that functioned for around 1,000 years before falling into disrepair.
The setting is magnificent, elevated on hillside terraces that are connected by a monumental marble staircase. It sits above the village of Anatolia with views across the sea to Turkey. Little of the original centre remains thanks to repeated earthquakes and the use of the site as a quarry by the crusaders.
It was extensively excavated by Germans in 1902 and the Italians re-erected some Corinthian columns dating from the 2nd Century AD. A Doric temple, built 400 years earlier sits on the topmost terrace.
Asklepius was certainly born here in 460 BC and died here in 357 BC. But he spent most of his life away from Kos, traveling the Aegean and advocating a ‘scientific’ approach to medicine, gaining fame by halting plagues through the novel practices of boiling the drinking water and isolating the sick.