Castle of the Knights – Kos | Attraction Guides | History Hit

Castle of the Knights – Kos

Kos, Kos, Greece

Lucy Davidson

24 May 2021

About Castle of the Knights – Kos

The Castle of the Knights in Kos, sometimes referred to as Kos Castle, was the one of the fortifications of the Knights Hospitaller. Begun in the fourteenth century, the main purpose of the Castle of the Knights was to defend Kos from the Ottomans.

History of Castle of the Knights

The Castle of the Knights of the Order of Saint John is located at the entrance of Kos harbour on what was formerly an island.

A huge sea fortress, it was built between the late fourteenth to the early sixteenth centuries. It was constructed of local stone as well as parts of ancient buildings such as columns, architraves, and bases from the ruins of the ancient city.

Like other fortresses as part of the defensive system of the Knights of Saint John, the castle was built to ensure safe harbour for Christian pilgrims and travellers en route to the Holy Land in the face of possible Ottoman attacks.

The castle is made up of two defensive precincts. The interior, which was likely built a little before the end of the 14th century, has a circular tower on each of the four corners, with the south-eastern tower forming part of the exterior precinct.

The exterior precinct, which was built from 1496-1514, has huge bastions on each of the four corners as well as battlements and gun ports.

Between the two precincts is a moat and drawbridge, and over the main gate is a Hellenistic frieze which depicts masks and garlands.

In 1495, the Castle of the Knights was damaged by an earthquake, and was subsequently  restored in the sixteenth century. What remains of the Castle of the Knights today is a great mixture of the different construction periods of the site. Many of its thick walls and imposing towers remain intact, and even some battlements remain visible.

Castle of the Knights Today

Today, the castle is awaiting re-opening following an earthquake in 2017. It is normally a hugely popular tourist attraction, and nearby, local bars and restaurants decorate the stunning shoreline, offering a fantastic view of the castle.

On the northern side of the fortification used to be a warehouse constructed by the Knights. It was later restored during the Italian occupation, and today is a museum with sculptures, inscriptions, and altars on display.

Getting to Castle of the Knights

From the centre of Kos, the castle is a 7 minute walk via Akti Kountouriotou. It is also  a 3 minute drive the via Leof. El. Venizelou and Akti Miaouli roads. Taxis are plentiful around the site owing to the heavy tourism in the area.

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