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The Asclepion of Kos

Asclepion of KosThe Asclepion of Kos located 4 km north west of the city of Kos, in a forest of cypress and pine trees , it is the most important archaeological site on the island and the best known among the 300 Asclepieia of the whole  Ancient Greece . The temple of Asclepion , which stands on a hill from where you can enjoy a wonderful view of the Aegean, was built in the place where stood the shrine of Apollo. The excavations have proved the existence of human settlements since the Minoan times. The temple was built in the fourth century BC, when the cult of Asclepius was widespread in Kos , during the second century BC was expanded because of new pilgrims who came to its reputation , mainly due to the school of medicine that founded by Hippocrates in the fifth century BC. Here the religious rites were held by the priests of the god Asclepius who were also doctors.

The archaeological site of Asclepion consists of three levels, the Propylaia ( the lowest level) , which leads to the peristyle , with three sections in Doric style, where they were the lodgings for thr pilgrims. To the left of Propylaia , in the eastern part of the temple , there are the ruins of the Roman baths , which date back to the third century AD and still show traces of frescoes and mosaics. Crossing the peristyle you reach the first floor, where probably gather the faithful during the celebrations in honor of Asclepius which were held once every four years. Further along is the front wall of the second level , decorated with niches for statues , fountains and sinks. On the right side of the stairs there is a small altar which served as a pedestal for the statue of Gaius Stertinius Xenophon , the personal physician of the Roman Emperors Tiberius, Claudius and Nero . The altar of Asclepius , the oldest part of the temple dates back to the first half of the fourth century AD and probably had decorative sculptures from Praxiteles . To the right of the altar is the temple of Asclepius and behind is the house of the priests that dates back to the third century BC, but was damaged in the earthquake of 142 AD and rebuilt later.
To the left of the altar is the Roman temple from the second century AD , partially restored later by the Italian and dedicated to Apollo , the father of Asclepius . To the left are the ruins of a building that served probably community purposes, behind the temple , however, is a semi-circular podium for the statues . On the back of the altar there is a staircase that leads to the third and final level initially surrounded by a peristyle with wooden columns, which was replaced in the second century BC. Behind the peristyle were houses, built in Roman times, for patients who came here . The great Doric temple of Asclepius , built in the second century BC, is in the middle of the third level , but unfortunately the Knights of St. John removed many parts for the construction of other buildings.

asclepeion Kos