Tripping Over History: Kos Ruins in Ruins, a Greek Island in Photos

Wild Poppies at Kos Castle Greece

Wild Poppies at Kos Castle

I didn’t expect the ancient ruins in Kos, Greece to be so… well … in ruins.

Coming from Spain and Portugal, we were used to castles and monuments with manned entrance booths, charging plenty of Euros to let us in. Ropes and barriers to keep us off the attractions were everywhere, and guards often stood by just in case.

This wasn’t the case in Kos.

Only the Kos Castle charged admission (a very reasonable 3 Euro for adults), though once past the gates we were allowed to roam everywhere at will, and tall grass had claimed many of the statues.

Statue abandoned by the trees Kos Castle Greece

Statue abandoned by the trees at Kos Castle

Elsewhere, in the ancient Agora, and in the temples scattered around the island, the ruins are left largely unattended.

The Agora, smack in the middle of Kos town, and next to a thriving square, was completely unattended. We wandered up to the western entrance, and were met with nothing but some fairly unhealthy looking stray cats and long, wild grass that hid most of the ruins.

Lone columns in the long grass at the Kos Agora Greece

Lone columns in the long grass at the Kos Agora

Kos’ Agora was once one of the largest in the ancient world. Here, traders met beside the Shrine of Aphrodite, the Temple of Hercules and a basilica.

The ancient Agora was flattened by an earthquake in 469 AD, and painstakingly rebuilt, only to be destroyed by an earthquake again in 1933.

Cole and Jordan climbed over ancient columns left lying on the ground in shambles by the earthquake.

Kids playing on the fallen columns at the Kos Agora Greece

Kids playing on the fallen columns at the Kos Agora

Elsewhere, a couple of lone columns stood high, balancing precariously. We stopped for just a second underneath, a bit nervous that just leaning against the columns might send them tumbling down.

Colums standing precariously and alone at the Agora at Kos Greece

Columns standing precariously and alone at the Agora

Wildflowers among the Agora ruins in Kos Greece

Wildflowers among the Agora ruins

The Western Excavations, a 15 minute walk across Kos town, were just as unattended. Wildflowers sprouted everywhere and tall grass grew unchecked.

Walking along the Western Excavations Kos Greece

Walking along the Western Excavations

Here, plaques explaining the excavations were few and far between.

Columns at the Western Excavations Kos Greece

Columns at the Western Excavations

Wandering around, we discovered what have been the ancient baths mentioned by our Lonely Planet Greece guide.

Sitting in an ancient bath at the Western Excavations in Kos Greece hot tub

Sitting in an ancient bath at the Western Excavations in Kos

The ruins of Kos were unattended or closed almost everywhere we wandered in Kos.

At Casa Romana, a restored Roman mansion, the gates were locked for further excavations, but the grass grew tall here, and we didn’t see any evidence of recent work.

Peeking at Casa Romana Kos Greece through the fence

Peeking at Casa Romana through the fence

So why were the ruins largely abandoned?

Our best guess is that time, earthquakes and the economic crisis haven’t been kind to the ruins on the ancient Greek island of Kos.

Have you visited the ruins on Kos? We’d love to hear your thoughts.

What You Need To Know

About Kos:  Kos is a Greek island on the far Eastern shore of Greece. It’s a stone’s throw from Bodrum, Turkey. The ruins mentioned in this post were all located in the island’s main town, Kos town.

How to Get There:  Kos is served by many international airlines, including direct flights from Spain and the United Kingdom. Check airfares on Expedia.

You can also reach Kos via a ferry ride from Bodrum Turkey. The fare is about 20 Euros, and takes 20 minutes on a fast hydrofoil or 45 minutes on a slower ferry.

Finding your Way Around:  Pick up a guide for Kos, or the Lonely Planet Greece, before you arrive. During the week we were there, the tourist office was closed every day.

17 Responses

  1. Sandra Foyt

    I wonder if it’s a question of priorities? With so many ancient ruins, maybe they have to make difficult choices about which ones need to be maintained.

    • Micki

      Sandra, I think you’re right on that. I didn’t realize how serious Greece’s financial issues were until we visited Kos.

      Even basic services like hospitals seem to be impacted. We had a short trip to the hospital when our little guy cut his ear on the playground, and I was shocked at how eerily empty it was. We spent about 20 minutes in the emergency room, without a doctor or a nurse ever appearing, and a line up of about 10 people ahead of us. Luckily, our issue wasn’t serious, and we found a private doctor nearby to stitch him up.

  2. Penny Sadler

    Great photos. I especially love the one of the kids at the end of the path. Beautiful place and it seems a shame that few see it. But kind of nice for you to have it to yourselves, no?

  3. Reena - Wanderplex

    I haven’t been to Kos, but I did notice how surprisingly “abandoned” a lot of the ruins in Greece felt, compared to other countries that had done extensive restoration work on their ancient sites. The economic crisis has really taken a toll, sadly.

  4. Megan

    Those ruins look super interesting! I’m actually headed to Kos for three days this coming week, so I’ll have to check them out.


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