Kos Churches from the early Christian period

– Basilica of the port. The basilica has three aisles, a wooden roof, an atrium and a baptistery and was built between the 5th and 6th century. It measures 72m in length and 23,5m in width and was one of the biggest Christian churches in the Mediterranean and probably the first majestic building on the island after the prevalence of Christianity in the area. It was built over the ruins of the ancient arcade of the port that was buried in the ground in order to create an artificial mound that would add height to the church. There were mosaic floors in the nave and granite columns with no fluting that were transported by the Knights Hospitaller and used to build a gate at the Nerantzia Castle. The baptistery was connected to the south aisle of the nave via a small corridor.

– Agios Gabriel of Psalidi. This is a large basilica with a sanctuary of three apses, a rectangular narthex and an outer narthex (exonarthex). It is located southeast of the town along the coastal road. The baptistery on the south side of the church used to have a cruciform baptismal font.

– The basilica of Skandari. The church has three aisles, a semicircular apse at the sanctuary and a rectangular narthex. There were mosaics on the floor and a baptistery at the northern aisle. A large part of its southern aisle is buried under a nearby windmill.

– Agios Ioannis Baptistery. A round building that used to be the baptistery of a basilica of the early Christian times and is now used as a cemetery church. It was built in the 7th or 8th century. It is also called Epta Vimata (Seven Steps). You will notice the Ionic capitals supporting the dome through 8 arches inside the church. There are religious paintings of the 13th century on the walls of the baptistery depicting the life of St John and recently a religious painting depicting the Assumption of Mary that was created in the early 14th century was discovered during maintenance work at the northern apse of the baptistery sanctuary.

Agios Ioannis Theologos. A basilica dedicated to Agios Ioannis Pergialitis that is situated very close to the seashore at Mastihari. It was excavated by A. Orlandos and it was actually the first excavation attempt that was organized by the Greek government after the unification of the Dodecanese with Greece in 1947. There are mosaics with geometric patterns and frames of various shapes that are decorated with depictions of animals and plants.

– Agios Pavlos of Zipari. This is a basilica with three aisles, a sanctuary with apses and an adjoining baptistery. The dedication of the church to St Paul (Agios Pavlos in Greek) is a result of St Paul visiting the island. A reference to that visit is made in Acts 20:38. Though the church is in ruins today some fragments from the mosaics on its floor still exist.

The Kapama basilica. The church is structurally similar to the church of Agios Pavlos of Zipari but has its baptistery in a different position. Some mosaics on the floor with geometric patterns and elaborate depictions of beetles, birds and fish have been preserved.

The Basilica of Kardamena. The basilica was built in the 7th century, has three aisles, a semicircular apse at the sanctuary, a narthex and an atrium. There are also traces indicating the existence of ancillary spaces on its north side. There is one particularity regarding the church’s baptistery that is located at the end of the south aisle. It had two baptismal fonts: a shallow one for kids and a deeper one for adults. According to inscriptions, the creation of the magnificent mosaics that used to embellish the floor of the church had been funded by the bishops Dorotheos and Eftichios and the archpriest Fotinos.


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