Muslim Kos

The Defterdar Mosque in the Eleftheria (Freedom) Square, Kos. A model of harmonious proportions and elegance, the mosque was built in the 18th century by the Turkish governor Gazi Hassan Pasha.


The Knights of St. John surrendered Kos to the forces of Sultan Süleyman the Magnificent in 1523 and this began a 390 year Turkish domination. The island experienced Muslim immigration under the 400 years of Ottoman rule and being under Italian control was not affected by the "population transfers" after the Treaty of Lausanne in 1923.


There were flare ups in that 390 year history. In 1603 the Knights Hospitaller unsuccessfully tried to retake the island. It was hit by a terrible epidemic of the plague in 1810/11 and it took part in the Greek Revolution of 1821. The retribution was savage by the Ottomans with a massacre on the island of Chios in the Sporades and the Orthodox Patriarch in Constantinople being executed and his body thrown in the Bosporus. On Kos more than 90 Greek insurgents were hanged around the Plane Tree of Hippocrates.

However despite the repression at times of uprising, trade flourished under the Ottomans, religious freedoms were respected and the rule was generally even handed but the infrastructure was neglected.


The Turkish rule came to an end in 1912 in the Italian-Turkish War where Italy invaded Ottoman North Africa and the islands of Dodecanese.

In 1923, after the Greco-Turkish War, under the terms of the Treaty of Lausanne, the Muslims living in Greece were required to immigrate to Turkey; whereas, the Christians living in Turkey were required to immigrate to Greece in an "Exchange of Populations" (nowadays this process is called Ethnic Cleansing...). But the Muslim community in Kos, as part of Italy between 1912 and 1947 was not subjected to the exchange of the population between Turkey and Greece in 1923.

In the 70's the emigration to Anatolia, being an indirect result of the Cyprus Crisis caused Turkish numbers on Kos to drop from three thousand to less than a thousand today. About fifty Muslim families remain on Kos and they mostly reside in the village of Platani along with a Greek minority.


Today on Kos the evidence of Ottoman rule is still highly visible. Among the most important monuments of the Muslim past of Kos are: the Defeterdar Mosque in the main square of the town, the Hassan Pasha Mosque and a beautiful 18th century fountain, both located on the Hippocrates Plane Tree Square, the Anatolian Hamman, the Ottoman Old Town of Haluvazia, and the Turkish Cemetery in Platani.


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Taken on June 17, 2011