Kos Old Jewish Cemetery

Cemetery Information

South Aegean
Site address
15, Asklipioy Street, close to the Kos New Jewish cemetery.
GPS coordinates
36.88704, 27.27529
Perimeter length
235 metres
Is the cemetery demolished
Type and height of existing fence
The cemetery is surrounded by a masonry fence with a grid, of up to 1.5 metres in height. The back of the masonry fence is partially destroyed.
Preservation condition
Fenced and protected Jewish cemetery
General site condition
The back of the masonry fence is partially destroyed. The remaining gravestones are laid out flat, and are partially covered with earth.
Number of existing gravestones
30. The remaining tombstones lie, part is covered with earth.
Date of oldest tombstone
1741 (oldest gravestone found by ESJF expedition). Supposedly, there is also a gravestone from the 1690s, but the reading of the date is questionable.
Date of newest tombstone
1897. One gravestone found in the new cemetery, dating from 5574/1814, is probably taken from the Old Jewish cemetery.
Urgency of erecting a fence
Land ownership
Property of local community
Preserved construction on site
In the north part of the cemetery there is a ruined building with graves inside.
Drone surveys

Historical overview

Jews are mentioned as residing in Kos as early as the second century B.C.E. In the 14th century, Romaniot Jews lived there, but were expelled in 1502. A small Jewish community existed from the beginning of Ottoman rule (1522). A synagogue was built in 1747. In 1850, there were around 40 Jewish families, but their number dwindled thereafter. At the beginning of the 20th century, there were only 4 Jewish families in Kos. However, following WWI, Jews returned to the island and in 1934 the community built a new synagogue after an earthquake destroyed the old one. The Jews numbered 166 in 1938, dropping to 85-100 in 1943. In July 1944, the Jews were transported by ship, along with the Jews of Rhodes (2,000 in all) to Piraeus. They were held under brutal conditions at an SS prison camp outside Athens prior to deportation to Auschwitz-Birkenau and other death camps. None of the 12 Jews of Kos who survived the Holocaust returned there.

The exact period of the cemetery’s establishment is unknown. Perhaps the appearance of a cemetery with regular burials dates back to the 18th century. However, a Jewish community has existed in Kos since the 14th century.

3D model