Plane tree of Hippocrates

Easy access,
Free entrance,
General location
Kos town
Free entrance

A centenarian tree

This is one of Kos' most popular sights. Throughout the centuries, several foreigners and travellers have referred to its fame and have recorded his existence in engravings and scripts. In fact, the first depiction of the plane tree and Lotzias square is found in an engraving from the book “Journey to Greece”, by the French traveler C. Coupier (1783). According to local tradition, Hippocrates taught his students under the shade of this long-living plane tree with the cavernous trunk!

Plane tree of Hippocrates

The plane tree has a 12 meter circumference and belongs to the species of Eastern Plane Tree (Platanus orientalis L.). It is considered to be one of the oldest trees in Europe and its branches stretch over 6-7 meters. Over the centuries, the trunk and older branches have been threatened by various fungi and wood-eating insects, resulting in a large hollow inside its trunk - hence the huge cave-like trunk.

Two fountains are seen around the tree. The one on the north side, set in an ancient engraved urn of white marble, has an Arabic inscription on it in which the water is described as “water from the tree of Hippocrates”. On the eastern side of the tree, there is a circular fourteen-sided fountain covered with a dome, resting on seven arches which in turn rest on an equal number of stone-and-marble columns with capitals of a Corinthian order.

Square of Hippocrates Plane Tree (Plateia Platanou), in the heart of Kos town, opposite the Knights’ Castle (or Castle of Neratzia), next to the Ancient Agora of Kos.
Need to know
In 1954, the Medical Association of Kos presented a hammer made of wood from the plane tree to the president of the Canadian Medical Association. Seeds and parts from the tree have been given all over the world. One graft was donated by the Greek Ambassador Alexis Liatis to the United States and the U.S. National Library of Medicine and was planted on December 14, 1961, in the area surrounding the library.
Don't miss
It has been doubted that it is actually Hippocrates' plane tree, since it can not exceed more than five centuries of life. However, it could be coming from a stem growing up from the roots of the Hippocrates actual plane tree. The tree has been a protected natural monument since 1985 (Government Gazette 589/B/1985).
Plane tree of Hippocrates
The Illustrated London News: The market place and the celebrated plate tree at Kos, 1836

The fame of the perennial plane of Hipppocrates is attested by the fact that important international conferences have taken and are still taking place under its shade, such as the 17th International Conference of the History of Medicine in September 1960, the ceremonial celebration of the 35th International Conference of the History of Medicine, the 1st International Medical Olympiad in September 1996, organiaed by the I.H.F.C. and the opening of the 18th International Cardio - Thoracosurgical Conference in May, 2008. It is considered one of Kos' most significant landmarks visited by thousands of people every year.

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Footnotes / Source

The Illustrated London news image: Alekos Markoglou collection

Kos Island Greece