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Cities in KOS

Kos city

Popular destinations GREECE




Kos was inhabited early and its history begins in the Neolithic. Around 1600 BC, the Minoans settled on Kos. After the collapse of this empire, several other groups came until Kos joined the Dorian League of cities (700 BC), as well as Rhodes, Halicarnasos (Bodrum) and several other cities. Kos experienced a period of prosperity and the god of medicine was worshipped (Asklepius). During the Peloponessian Wars, Kos fought mainly on the side of Athens. In 411 BC, the Spartans conquered Astipale, the capital at the time. The inhabitants fled and founded the town of Kos. In 333 BC Kos entered into an alliance with Alexander the Great and the island became part of the Macedonian Empire.

Romans and Byzantines

After wars with the Macedonians, Kos came into Roman hands in 30 BC. The island was part of the province of Asia. After the Roman Empire was split up, the Dodecanese fell into Byzantine hands. In this Byzantine era (330-1204), Kos had to deal with the invasions of Vandals, Goths, Slavs and Arabs. The island was plundered several times.

Venetians, Genoese and Johannites

After the fall of Constantinople, Kos came into the hands of the Venetians. Leon Gabalas became governor of both Kos and Rhodes. The Byzantines did not give up and recaptured Kos with the help of Genoa. Genoese admirals became the actual owners of Kos. In 1306 Kos was sold to the Johannites. These crusaders settled on Kos ten years later, having previously established their headquarters on Rhodes. The Johannites left many castles and fortresses. They fought against the Turks for the supremacy of the Holy Land.

Turkish Occupation

During the reign of Sultan Suleyman the Great (1520-1566), the Dodecanese fell into Turkish hands. The Turks gave the islands a form of self-government. The Orthodox Church was also tolerated. However, the administration became less and less efficient. The islanders rebelled several times against the Turkish authority. The Pasha of Egypt was an important ally of the Turks. England, France and Russia came to the aid of the Greeks in their struggle for independence. The Dodecanese came under Turkish influence again after an exchange with Evia.


The Italians landed on Rhodes in May 1912. Initially, the inhabitants of Kos were also enthusiastic, because the Italians promised to cede the Dodecanese to Greece. But in 1920, Italy annexed the Dodecanese as a province.

The Italians built a number of government buildings in Fascist style on Kos and Rhodes. They also paid great attention to archaeological excavations, especially those of the ancient Romans. After Mussolini's trade, Germany occupied the Dodecanese. The Germans were more cruel than the Italians. The Jewish inhabitants of Kos were taken to the concentration camps. After the British invasion, the Dodecanese became a British protectorate. On 7 March 1948, the reunification with Greece took place.

Recent history

The Dodecanese and Kos did not play an active role in the civil war in Greece, which broke out between the communists and the royalists. However, tensions with neighbouring Turkey and the Cyprus issue were important in Kos' recent history. The provisional low point in the relations between the two countries was in 1996 when there was a fight over a rock called . Lately (after 2000) there has been a stable situation.

On Thursday 20 July 2017, Kos was hit by an earthquake measuring 6.7 on the Richter scale. Two people were killed and more than 100 were injured. Aftershocks with a maximum magnitude of 4.4 caused much panic and unrest among the population and many holidaymakers.

See also the history of Greece.


Facaros,D / Rhodes & the Dodecanese

Griekse eilanden
Van Reemst

Hendriksen,B / Rodos, Kos en dodekanisos
Babylon- De Geus

Hermans, F / Rodos en Kos

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Last updated May 2024
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