History of Kos

The history of Kos begins very early, almost from the 3rd millennium BC, that is, from the end of the Neolithic era. According to historians, it is the only island of the Dodecanese that has been inhabited since then.


kos-history Kos has been present in the collective consciousness of the Greeks since mythology. In the legend of the Battle of the Giants, it is mentioned that the battle that broke out between the Gods of Olympus and the Giants also took place on the island of Kos. There the god Poseidon approached the giant Polybotis, took with his trident a part of Cape Helona and with it overwhelmed the giant.

Kos was also associated with the labors of Hercules, who, according to legend, was shipwrecked along with a few of his companions on the northern beaches of Kos. King Eurypylos, considering Heracles a robber, chased him, causing him to flee to a mountainous place. After his victory over the king of Kos, Heracles left for Phlegra, having previously recognized Chalcona as the rightful king of Kos, Nisyros, Kalymnos and the other neighboring islands. In this way, the generation of Heraklides dominated Kos, from which tradition wants Hippocrates to be descended. Hercules in historical times was worshiped on her island,

Ancient Greek period

kos history Over the years, Kos acquired a Minoan character and developed around the port, and later Mycenaean, which is evidenced by Mycenaean weapons found in the area of ‚Äč‚ÄčAsklepiion and Mycenaean tombs in Pyli. In 1100 BC, the descent of the Dorians followed and Kos acquired a Doric appearance, in a period when the historic Asklepiion was also built. Later in 700 to 600 BC Kos, Ialyssos, Lindos, Kameiros, Knidos and Halicarnassus founded the Doric Hexapolis during which the dominant city of the island is Astypalaia, which later historians place in Kamares, near Kefalos. At this time Kos is so prosperous that any insult is met with war.

In 546 BC the Persian empire subjugates the Koos and the administration of the island is taken over by local tyrants on behalf of the Persians. In 478 BC Kos enters the Athenian Alliance and is liberated. In 460 BC, Hippocrates was born.

The successive movements of Kos between the Athenian and Spartan alliances cause civil war as a result of the sharpening of the confrontation between the oligarchic and democratic Kos. The dispute ends with a compromise between the two factions. Part of this compromise was the decision to settle the inhabitants of Kos-Meropides and all the neighboring settlements in a new city, Kos, which remains the capital of the island to this day.

In 288 BC the island falls under the Ptolemaic state. From the beginning, the friendly disposition of the Koos towards the new masters of the island was rewarded by the non-installation of a military garrison on the island, by the exemption from taxation and by the simultaneous preservation of all the privileges of a member state of the Ptolemaic territory. From that year Kos entered the “golden century”, which ends in 197 BC. with the coming of the Romans. The alliance of the Koos and the Romans and the friendly relations with the king of Pergamum, Eumenes II, contribute decisively to the construction of the great temple of Asklepios, but also of all the important monuments of the Roman period of the island.

Byzantine period

With the advent of the Byzantine era and especially from 384 AD. and then, the demolition of non-Christian sanctuaries is ordered. Successive strong earthquakes (469, 554) cause the collapse of many important buildings. At the same time, successive raids by Vandals, Issaurs, Visigoths and later Saracens hit the population of the island. The Asclepius from the 6th AD. h. it is now permanently abandoned and the island enters a long period of decline.

From the 11th century AD, Kos regained its power: initially by regaining control of the seas from the Byzantine fleet and then by the development of trade with the arrival of the Franks, Genoese and Venetians in the eastern Mediterranean. Thus Kos emerges as one of the most important ports of the Aegean.

Venetian rule and Turkish rule

In 1306, the Byzantine emperor Andronikos II Palaiologos granted the administration of Kos to a Genoese adventurer and corsair, Viniolo Vinioli. He, in turn, delivered Kos together with Kalymnos and Leros to the Knights of John. The reaction of the Venetians, who dominated the island at that time, delayed the occupation of the island by the Ioannites until 1314, when the latter also raided Kos. During the period of the Knights, the fortifications of the island were made, some of which are the current Castle of Kos, and the island was renamed Nerantzia due to the fact that many orange trees were planted.

As early as 1457, the Turks repeatedly attempted to occupy Kos, which they only succeeded in 1523. Thus began the period of Turkish rule, during which Kos continued to receive frequent raids by Algerian and Florentine pirates, Knights of St John and Venetians from Crete . The situation appears calmer during the 18th and 19th centuries, during which the port of Kos becomes an important stop for Western merchant ships and a pivotal transit center for the goods of the Ottoman Empire. Nevertheless, it still faces the savagery of the Turks, with particular intensity in periods of unrest, such as in the revolution of 1821 or the Cretan revolution of 1869.

Modern times

In 1911 Turkey and Italy were involved in a war and from April 1912 the gradual occupation of the Dodecanese by the Italians began. On May 20, 1912, the Italians occupied Kos without a fight and the inhabitants welcomed them as liberators. The Italian government declares that the occupation of the Dodecanese and consequently of Kos will be temporary, and reassures them, saying that the future of the islands can only be autonomy. On July 24, 1923, the Treaty of Lausanne was signed, by which the Dodecanese were annexed to Italy as a possession (Possession of the Italian Islands of the Aegean) and not as a colony. The Dodecanese are considered Italian citizens with idiosyncratic citizenship (Cittadini del Regno instead of Sudditi Italiani) and this mainly means that they neither acquire the rights of Italian citizens nor have the right to elect representatives.

The German Nazis hanged several Kos, both for example and for resistance action. On May 8, 1945, the Germans signed the unconditional surrender to the Allies and the British installed a temporary Military Administration until the final status of the Dodecanese was decided.

On June 27, 1946, the USA, USSR, England and France decided to cede the Dodecanese to Greece. On March 7, 1948, the formal ceremony for the integration of the Dodecanese took place in Rhodes, an anniversary that is celebrated to this day in all the Dodecanese