The Tree of Hippocrates
Any visit to the beautiful island of Kos is made even more memorable by taking in a little ancient history, and a day-trip to the tree of Hippocrates is a fascinating addition to your holiday adventures.
Set close to Neratzia Fort, this site is reputedly the place where Hippocrates shared his wisdom about medicine. The plane tree which currently stands here is over 500 years old and has been a national monument since 1985. Several cuttings from the tree have been sent to destinations overseas, including the centre for medical genetics in Glasgow, and the School of Rural Health in Sydney.
Many legends surround the tree, as well as a few local superstitions. One of the most notable events takes place in September each year, where women of the town make two wreaths, one with the old leaves and one with the new to symbolise new beginnings and give assurance of long and healthy life.
How to visit
Kos Town is 45 minutes’ drive from Kefalos, 33 minutes from Kardamena and just 10 minutes from Psalidi. It’s possible to hop on a Ktel bus from Kardamena, which will take around 45 minutes. There is public parking within 10 minutes’ walk of the tree of Hippocrates, and the bus station is just eight minutes’ walk away.
You can also visit the tree as part of an organised excursion, combining transport from your resort with the services of a knowledgeable guide, so you’ve got nothing to do but sit back and take in the sights and snap a few pictures.
There is no charge to visit the tree, and it is well signposted throughout the city.
What else can I do when I visit?
If your visit to see the tree of Hippocrates is part of a day trip, you’ll find plenty of other things to do nearby. The mediaeval fort of Neratzia is an interesting ruin, and boasts great harbour views, and the Archaeological Museum of Kos has many ancient artefacts and mosaics. If you’re really into history, you can combine a guided tour of the museum and a visit to the tree of Hippocrates.
There are several options for boat cruises too, offering trips that take you out to a shipwreck and to a sandy coast for a swim, while enjoying a sunset cruise along the coast is a lovely way to finish your visit to this fascinating town.
As Kos is the main town on the island, you’ll find lots of spots to grab some refreshments. Whether you fancy speedy gyros, or a leisurely lunch you’ll be able to enjoy some great Greek cuisine as part of your visit.
All this history can be thirsty work, and there’s not a lot of shade around the tree, so we recommend you take plenty of water, a hat and some sunscreen. Comfy shoes are a must as well, as this is not the spot for walking in flip-flops or heels.
Finally, remember your camera when you visit the tree of Hippocrates, to grab a snap of yourself standing at the birthplace of modern medicine.