A glorious conservatory
Kos offers a staggering number of archeological sites to choose from and the Roman Odeon (or Roman Auditorium) is definitely a must-see. Discovered and excavated by the Italian archeologist Luciano Laurenzi in 1929, the conservatory is considered one of the most significant public buildings of ancient Kos, right in the heart of town. It was originally built in the 2nd century AD and restored during the period of the Italian occupation. The first phase of restoration work on the monument was started in 1929 by the Italian Archeological Mission and more recent restoration works to conserve, consolidate and enhance the monument were carried out during 1994-1999.
The path to enter is formed by tall cypress trees and flowers, and during summertime you are usually welcomed by cricket singings. The building, which measured 31.9 x 29.9 meters and was 12 meters high, was roofed in antiquity and could accommodate 750 spectators. According to information derived from ancient inscriptions, the Auditorium was intended for the holding of musical competitions, while it also served as the seat of the public body of Kos, which was responsible for honouring distinguished citizens of the island.
Its overall construction rests on large square-built pillars creating an artificial inclination of the ground. The Roman Odeon presented a north-south orientation, with the «koilon» (the place for the seats) found at the south and the orchestra and scene at the north. It had fourteen rows of marble seats, nine of which have been restored, and was divided by a corridor into two sections, the lower one of which was divided into four staircase stands. The first nine rows you will notice are made of original marble and were supposed to seat the most important citizens of that time. The orchestra was circular and its floor was decorated with marble mosaics, while two more mosaic floors adorned the lanes.
Central and easy to access, the Roman Odeon provides guests with the opportunity to sightsee a Roman Amphitheater in all its glory and wander in the inner tunnel-like walkways of the conservatory situated right beneath, visiting a display area which features a photo exhibition from the Aegean Institute of Archeological Studies. The well preserved Roman Odeon remains fascinating and hosts a variety of cultural events organised by local or municipal organisations, firing your imagination to what has come before the modern day Kos!
Plenty of marble statues originally placed in niches and a considerable number of inscriptions were found in the surrounding area, the most notable of which being that of Hippocrates, today exhibited at the Archaeological Museum of Kos.