Thanks to an attractive mixture of sand and sights, Kos is a justifiably popular package tourist destination. Large for a Greek island, Kos is long and tapering, with a high spine of mountains running along its southern side. The second largest island in the Dodecanese, it lies mid-way down the chain, and is the de facto hub of ferry and hydrofoil activity, with virtually every boat putting in an appearance. Kos also has an unsurpassed number of tourist craft operating to neighboring islands and the Turkish coast, a mere 5km away, which dominates the eastern horizon. Kos was an important center in the ancient world, its capital being one of the major commercial ports in the Aegean. Unlike Rhodes, Kos was never large enough to be a major force in its own right, leaving it more prone than most of the largest islands to the vicissitudes of history: it variously relied on the patronage of Egypt, Rome and Rhodes for its protection. Its shaky geology has also played a major role: it was devastated by massive earthquakes on several occasions, notably in the 6th century AD and again as recently as 1933. As a result, much of its fame was derived from an odd mix of figures and famous associations rather than economic or military prowess. First among the historical figures were Hippocrates the so-called 'Father of Medicine' who was born and had his school here, and a famous painter contemporary of Alexander the Great named Apelles. Kos was also a noted producer of fine wine, and scandalously, in the Roman era, see-through silk garments beloved by senator's wives and the transvestite Emperor Caligula. Kos Town is the main port and capital of the island and it lies on the sandy east coast with vies across Turkey. It is a gentle, wide-avenued center of flowers and trees that would be very restful if it wasn't for a spot of mass tourism. For the most part the more scenic parts of town have stood up to this remarkably well, but the streets north of the castle-dominated old harbour are dominated by a heavy concentration of hotels, discos and tee-shirt shops that will either be your idea of holiday heaven or a variation of hell: this is the secret for the town's success for there is something here to appeal to all tastes unless you like solitude. The center is Italianesque in feel, having been largely rebuilt during the interwar occupation years. Some consolation for the loss of any tangible Greek atmosphere is to be found in the Italian disinclination to rebuilt over any archaeological remains that came to light, leaving Kos Town with wide, open, ruin-topped vistas along with the boulevards. To add to the appeal, much of the town center has now been pedestrianized.