History Of Samos
Initially joined to the Asia Minor Coast, Samos became separated from the mainland following enormous geological upheavals. According to the myth it was the birth place of goddess Hera. By being colonized by the Ionians around the first millennium BC, it was inhabited by Carians and Pelasgians. Samos knew its greatest glory in the 6th century BC.
Subsequently it was dominated by the Persians during the Persian Wars, later becoming a member of the Athenian Confederacy. When Samos revolted against the alliance, the Athenians laid waste the island in revenge. It was later conquered by Macedonians, Ptolemies and Romans.
In 1204 it became a Frankish possession, remaining in Venetian hands until 1413, when the Genoese under the Giustiniani gained supremacy and ruled the island together with Chios. In 1453 with the fall of Constantinople to the Turks, the island was abandoned, its inhabitants fleeing to Chios. In the 16th century Turkish attempts to resettle Samos succeeded. The island remained under Turkish rule until 1912 when it was finally united with Greece.
Sightseeing In Samos
The capital, Samos or Vathy, lies in the eastern part of the island. It is one of its three major ports, the other two being Karlovassi and Vathy. There is an archeological museum here with local finds, plus a museum of ecclesiastical art, a fine arts museum, Byzantine collection, folk art museum and library.
Excavations, undertaken primarily by the German School, have unearthed ruins of houses and the ancient acropolis at Pythagorion within a perimeter of approximately 6,400 meters. While the walls enclose an ancient theatre and cemetery, the most important structure is the water tunnel of Efpalinus, discovered in 1881. Other ruins near Pythagorion include a sanctuary to Hera, whose oldest section has been dated to the 10th century BC.
In the 7th century the old temple was replaced by a new one designed by the architect Rhoikos. The largest in Greece, it was destroyed by fire in 538 BC. Other buildings in the area belong to the Hellenistic and Roman periods. Near the village of Kosmadaisi lies the cave of Pythagoras, which tradition maintains was used by the great philosopher-mathematician as a refuge.
Samos possesses a host of Byzantine churches and monasteries, of which the two most important are about 25 km. from the capital. The monastery of the Holy Cross was founded in 1582, followed shortly thereafter by that of the Megali Panayia (Great Virgin). Both contain remarkable frescoes, icons and beautifully carved icon screens. Slightly older is the monastery of the Virgin Vrontiani (1566) near the village of Vourliotes.
Another church, the 11th century church of Our Lady, lies near Karlovassi at Potami. Both Agios Haralambos and Our Lady Makrini, on the west coast of the island near Kallithea, have frescoes painted in the 14th century. Samos is ideal for excursions by boat or on foot, swimming and water sports. Kokkari, a charming seaside village with a wonderful beach, is near the capital. The north-east section of the island near the Kotsikas peninsula is a fun place to explore.
From here on can get to the islets opposite, Makronisi and Agios Nikolaos. Boats leave from Laka for Kasonisi and from Marathakampo for Samopoula. These uninhabited islands are wonderful for bathing and picnics. The beaches at Karlovassi, Potami and all along the coast from Heraion to Psili Ammo are perfect for swimming and water sports, while hikers and hunters will want to head for the mountains.
Samos is blessed with very varied scenery, ranging from rugged mountain peak to verdant valleys and delightful shores. It lush environment combined with its extensive tourist facilities account for the crowds of tourists that flood it every summer.
HIGHLIGHTS OF SAMOS
Efpalinus Tunnel In Samos Island
The famous tunnel of Efpalinus, which is at Pythagorion, was the "eight wonder" of the ancient world. The way which it is constructed often comes as a surprise even to modern experts. The success of the enterprise - given the means available at the time: the hammer and the chisel - is astonishing. This tunnel is the middle section of a major aqueduct, constructed around 550 BC by the architect Efpalinus, to supply the ancient city of Samos, the modern Pythagorion, with water.
Its construction took about ten years and the tunnel has a length of 1.036 meters. In order to construct the conduit, a total of 7.000 cubic meters of natural rock had to be removed. The section of the tunnel is on average 1.80 by 1.80 meters, and it cuts through the mountain at a depth of 180 meters below its summit. This ancient tunnel is constructed with rectangular stones which are very skillfully fitted one on top of the other.
It is roofed with a triangular vault, made with same kind of stones. The persistence of the ancient Greeks, who in this section were faced with doubly difficult tasks, still calls forth the admiration of the visitor.
They first had to hallow out the mountain and then construct in it the wall and vaulted corridor as a passageway. The water was channeled through pipes which were installed in the aqueduct below the part of the tunnel in the direction of the source and alongside it in the direction of the town.
These pipes, which remain at many points, are so well made that they were put in yesterday, even after the passage of so many centuries and all this without any of the technological means available to our own age. The tunnel is lit and accessible to visitors.
Pythagorion has an unstopped history of 3000 years. It is the place where past and present are impartibly and fully harmonized with the magic nature and the superb climate. All of the above compose a total that impresses and pleasantly surprises everyone that visits the home of science and culture.
Pythagorion is a traditional authentic Greek village but it also is a great tourist and cosmopolitan center. Lets not forget that it is announced by UNESCO (United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization) as a town of global cultural inheritance.
For the lovers of action and intense living, there is the port area where one can find many bars and restaurants and music spreads all over the place, while the peace lovers can enjoy the archaeological sites, the traditional built houses, the rosy gardens and the stone streets that will transfer you to other eras long forgotten.
There are many beaches around Pythagorion, some crowded and some deserted. Pythagorion is the place of choice, and ideal vacation.
It is hosed in two buildings; old and modern building. The OLD building, built from carved stones is next to the Town Hall building. At the entrance there are two columns of Ionic style and a marble sarcophagus of the Hellenistic Age. There you can see sculptures and other exhibits of the classical antiquity, huge statues of the Hellenistic period, relief of suppers of the dead as well as votive offerings.
There are also exhibits of prehistoric and geometric pottery and rare wooden objectives of the 8th and 6th century B.C. A rich collection of cooper and ceramic objectives of the geometric, archaic, Roman period as well as ivory objects of 8-6 century can be admired here. In the NEW building, the huge statue of Kouros and a sculpture by Samios Genelaos (6th century B.C.) devoted to the goddess Hera are exhibited here. This sculpture consists six figures only three of which are saved today.
ECCLESIASTICAL - BYZANTINE MUSEUM
In this museum which is in the Cathedral building, a lot of icons, sacerdotal vestments, manuscripts have been gathered and exhibited here. Also the mantle of Patriarch Gregorios 5th, and the sleeves of the metropolitan Bishop of Smirni, Chrysostomos who was a national martyr. There are also crosses carved in wood, sacred utensils made of silver and gold, old gospels and a lot of valuable objects of great historic value.
PALEONTOLOGICAL MUSEUM OF MYTILINI
It is in the Municipality building. Its exhibitions are of great paleontological value. Bones of prehistoric vertebrate animals, phinos, Mediterranean horses, hippos and other horned animals. Articulation joints of Smotheria (wild beats of Samos), shailder blades, teeth and various bones of prehistoric thinos, dinosaurs, hyenas and reptile eggs. The fossil brain of a small horse aged 13 million years is the most most valuable exhibit of the museum.
EUPALINUS TUNNEL OF PYTHAGORION
A tunnel with two entrances, dug in the middle of the mountain, used to be the water pipe by which the town was supplied with water. This is one of the Polycratian constructions, constructed by Eupalinus, an engineer from Megara. The length of the tunnel is 1.038 m. The interior height is the same with the average human height and in the middle of the floor clay pipes were placed. Through this tunnel, water was carried to Polycrate's town. It is an aqueduct, a masterpiece of engineering device, the most important of the antique years. It was constructed with primitive tools without any scientific equipment, thing which astonishes the visitors.
THE MUSEUM OF PYTHAGORION
It is in the Town Hall building. Some of the exhibits are of series of archaic votive offering grave columns (6th century B.C.) Among them is the Diagoras column, various parts of grave reliefs, headless statues and so on. There is also a great number of capitals and statues of Roman emperors. (Augustus, Claudius, Trajanus)
Beneath the monastery of Spiliani there is the ancient theater. Unfortunately it is destroyed. The stage and only one tier of seats are saved today. It must have been quite big. Nowadays ancient drama performances are held.
THE CASTLE OF LOGOTHETIS
Next to the church of Metamorphosis raises this historic castle, built on the ruins of the former Venetian one. This castle was a Fort of 400m and used to be a stronghold of the defending Samians in 1824.
7 km from Pythagorion, was the greatest Sanctuary of Hera in the ancient times. Anyone could find refuge there. It was the temple of goddess Hera, has a length of 108.75 m, width 54.68 m. and height 25 m. It was peripheral with 133 columns only me of which is still standing. One legend says that it was built by the nymphs and another that it was built by the Argonaut hero Ancaios, when he had returned from the Arganautic Expedition. In ancient times the Goddess Hera was celebrated twice a year. The first celebration was called "Heraia" dedicated to her birth and the second "Tonea" dedicated to the miracle she had performed.
IERA ODOS (The Sacred Way)
The sacred way had length of 4.880 m. and used to connect the ancient town to Heraion. It was constructed in the 7th century B.C. and it had in length about 2000 statues, monuments, temples and grave on both sides.
THE WALLS (Polycrates Walls)
The Polycratian walls had length of 6.220 m. Today many parts of the walls are very well preserved. There were 35 forts, 12 gates and exits.
Historians differ over the date at which Polycrates came to power. Was it 542, 537, or 566 BC ? Polycrates was the son of Aeaces and had two brothers: Pantagnotus and Syloson.
Vigorous and brilliantly clever, he resolved to seize power by force. He chose for his purpose the day on which all the people offered a sacrifice in the temple of the goddess Hera and there was a procession of armed men. Polycrates, with this festival as a pretext, gathered together a large number of weapons and told his brothers to take part in the procession along with the rest.
They has instructions, at the moment when the others had deposited their arms in front of the temple, to kill all those who were hostile to them. At the same time, Polycrates himself gathered his friends together in the city and captured the key points.
The plan was a success and worked without a hitch. In this way, Polycrates became master of the game, without encountering resistance. He immediately took care to fortify the acropolis, Astypalaia, and, obtaining mercenaries from the tyrant of Naxos, made himself tyrant of Samos.
He divided Samos into three parts. He kept Astypalaia and gave Hesia to his brother Pantagnotus and Aeschrionia to Syloson. But after a short time, he killed Pantagnotus and drove out Syloson, thus becoming master of the whole island.
In order to consolidate his rule, he made friends with Amasis, King of Egypt, who supported him in various ways. Polycrates had soon acquired remarkable power and a reputation, which spread throughout Greece and to the shores of Asia Minor, or Ionia as it was then called.
Under Polycrates rule, Samos reached the height of its power and greatness. It built up a navy of 100 ships, each with 50 oars. It had 1,000 archers and kept up this force in time of peace.
Later, Herodotus tells us, when Polycrates went on campaigns he had at his command a vast crowd and innumerable ships.
He captured Rheneia, Syros, and other islands. In this way he acquired the name of Ruler of the Seas, a title which he kept for many years. He beat Lesvos, which had helped the Miletans, traditional enemies of the Samiots, in a sea battle.
Mythology depicts Polycrates as the luckiest man in the world. A story is told to demonstrate that he always found again whatever he lost. It is said that he dropped a fine ring, of beautiful craftsmanship and great value, which he used as a seal, into the sea. His sorrow was great, but was turned to joy when, five days later, a fisherman brought him a large fish as a present-and the ring was found inside it.
Polycrates became very wealthy and Samos, along with him, experienced years of power and prosperity. He imposed taxes on all the vessels, which passed through the island's territorial waters, sold protection to the neighboring states, developed farming and stockbreeding, and brought water to the ancient city by means of a tunnel, known today as the Efpalinion or Tunnel of Eupalinus.
Polycrates ruled with wisdom and cunning. He is said to have taken booty from his enemies and his friends, but he returned it to his friends pointing out that taking it and then returning it made him more popular than if he had not taken anything from them.
He gathered together the mothers of those who had been killed in battle are assigned them to the richer citizens, telling them to look after the women and to regard them as their own mothers.
In 525 BC, war broke out between Samos and the Spartans. Cambyses, son of Cyrus, King of Persia, preparing to embark upon a campaign against Egypt, sent envoys to Polycrates to ask for naval assistance. Polycrates supplied him with those Samiots whom he suspected of being his enemies. Sending them to Egypt, he told Cambyses not to let them return to Samos. Finally, they returned to Greece and sought the aid of the Spartans-which they eventually received.
Polycrates did not have a heroes death. Having been favored by fortune for so many years, he met an end which was cruel and very degrading. Herodotus tells us that Oroetes, satrap of Sardes, sent a message to Polycrates seeking his help, as he was under threat from Cambyses. If you come to fetch me and give me protection on Samos, I have eight chests full of gold and I will give you half of them. At that time, Polycrates was in need of money, so, having satisfied himself that Oroetes was telling the truth, went with his escort to Sardes.
Once there, however, he was arrested on the orders of Oroetes and crucified on Mount Mycale, opposite Pythagoreio. Such was the end of the 40-year tyranny of Polycrates.
Maender And Solyson Tyrants Of Samos
After the death of Polycrates, Maeander became tyrant. To begin with, he behaved like a democrat and a liberator and built altars to the gods. However, he soon revealed his true character and began to oppress the islanders.
The Persians, who always had designs and the rich and powerful island, attacked Samos with an army led by Otanes. The climax of the outrages committed by the invaders was the firing and looting of the Heraion-the sanctuary of Hera-which contained important art treasures. Having inflicted total defeat on Maeander, the Persians replaced him on the throne with the younger brother of Polycrates, Syloson, who was in effect totally dependent on them until his death in 509 BC.
BEACHES OF SAMOS
A sandy bathing beach, where is also established a restaurant-cafe-bar. It is 1 km away from Samos.
12 km. Picturesque bay with calm waters. There are two fish taverns.
Sandy beach with very shallow waters. 10 km from Samos. Many bathers gather here. There are fish taverns, restaurants and cafeteria. It is at the southeast.
Before reaching Psili Ammos. The beach beyond the water is covered with pebbles, but as we wade in the water, we find the bottom covered with sand. It is a very clear beach and open to the wide sea.
1 km further away from Kokkari and just before Lemonakia. Beach with pebbles and identical otherwise to that of Lemonakia.
12 km from Samos. Here come many bathers. The sea bottom is strewn with pebbles but otherwise very clear waters.
It is known to the ends of earth. Stony beach within the village limits. It has a tavern, restaurant, etc. 10 km from Samos.
4 km from Samos.
A small beach with pebbles. It is half a km away from Samos. It is located at the North-Eastern side.
2 km away from Samos. It has a sandy beach, with a somewhat rough sea. Near there are the plant and installations of winery.
A small beach with pebbles and a little sand. Distance 2 km.
A small beach with pebbles. It is located to the Northeast and is 6 km away from Samos.
LARGE SEITANI AND SMALL SEITANI
Two unimaginably beautiful beaches not so well known. They have small shingle and are sited off the village of Karlovassi, at the NW side.
2 km outside of Karlovassi. An open beach covered with pebbles. It has a restaurant, cafeteria and rooms to let.
BEACH OF ORMOS AND VELANIDIA
They are sited to the east of Marathokombos.
Beaches, below Skoureika, as yet remaining unexplored.
Charming beach a little further on from Psili Ammos of Marathokambos.
15 km from Samos. It is located within the village, exactly at the left side of the harbor. It is a small beach and has a bar to serve soft drinks.
An immense sandy beach outside of Pythagorion, very near the airport. Many tourists gather here and we find restaurants, taverns, a pizzaria, as well as many rooms to let.
21 km from Samos. A small beach with pebbles. It has restaurants, cafeterias, hotels.
A beach to dream about. Excursions to this place with caiques are organized from Pythagorion.
KARBOVOLO AND GLICORIZA
Small beach just before Pythagorion
TSAMBOU AND VLENDZA
Very beautiful picturesque beaches after the village Avlakia, with clear sea waters and a tranquil setting.
12 km from Samos. Clean beach with clear, cool waters. It has a restaurant, tavern and hotel.
SMALL AND LARGE LAKA
Next to Mourtia.
LIMNIONAKI AND ARAPIS
Beaches outside Spatharei.
PALOS OF GOUMEIKA
A large exquisite beach, a little below Goumeika.
55 km from the capital. A very large in area sandy beach. The waters are very clear. There is a restaurant, cafeteria, and rooms to let.
Sandy beach, 60 km away from Samos with a very clear sea.
Small stony beach within the village. It is 23 km away and is located to the north of the island.
PLAIN OF VOURLIOTES
Long wide beach.
It is located 6 km from Samos.
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