Protected by Goddess Hera, homeland of famous mathematician Pythagoras and fable writer Ezop, Samos Island, known as Sisam in Turkish, is one of the closest islands to Anatolia…
Samos, called Simas in Turkish, although devastated by fires erupted in 2000 and 2003, is an island where green nature lays until the coasts and it is covered by trees. Like other places, rocky and hard ground forms its Aegean identity. On the 1434-meter high Kerketeus Mountain located on the western part of Samos, there are not any rivers but there are many streams with powerful water sources. The best know stream is the “holy” Imvrazo, because it is rumored that Goddess Hera was born next to this stream. According to the mythology Hera unites with Zeus here and the goddess became forever protector of the island. Samos Island is also a place where many famous people were born, grew up and achieved important successes. One of these famous people is Pythagoras, whose theorem has been thought in geometry classes for years. This famous mathematician is also father of multiplication table and according to his theorem “in a right triangle, sum of square of vertical sides is equal to square of hypotenuse.”
The island’s famous identities
We need to look at history of Samos in order to imagine the island. According to the mythology, the God of wine and vineyards Diyonizos comes to the island while escaping from the Amazons. In order to take revenge the God asks for help from inhabitants of Samos. People accept to help Diyonizos and with this help he kills all Amazons chasing him. In order to show his gratitude to the people of island, he gave them grape roots of Samos wine, in other words Muskat’s (some people calling as Muskado) which later would be very famous, and thought them the art of viniculture. After the Persians, Spartans and Ionians, only in the era
of big and terrifying tyrant Polykrates the island experienced glorious days and during this era Samos Island became famous with its important contributions in science and art. During Polykrates’ administration in these field important people appeared. One of this people, as mentioned above, is the famous philosopher, mathematician, and musician Pythagoras who lived in 580-500 B.C. Aristarkus, who said that the world is moving on an orbit around the sun about 20 centuries before acceptance of this idea; architectures and sculptors Rhoikos and Theodoros who built magnificent Hera Temple and could make copper sculptors using baked clay moulds (a new thing for this era); Callistrates who, according to Byzantium grammar expert John Tzetzes, founded 24-character Greek alphabet; artists Saurias and artist Callipton who used shadow method on paintings for the first time; father of fables Ezop, philosopher Epicurus, destroyed everything on the island. It became quiet and people living here moved to other areas. When water resources appeared again, the Otoman State found a solution by inhabiting Albanians and other nationalities on the island. During the Greek Independence War uprisings took place on the island and in 1923 the island was annexed to Greece by Lausanne Agreement. Apart from tourism, people on Samos Island are earning their lives from fishing, wine business, olive, orange, rose, and tobacco planting and similar activities. Pythagoras glasses, which have a hole in their bottom section but prevent pouring out of drink from the hole by a mathematical trick, are among the most popular objects for the tourists. Hereon is important with its harbors and temples, Pythagorio with Spiliani Monastary and antique tunnel, and Karlovassi with its beaches. Main cities of Samos are Vath, Pythagorio, Hereon, and Karlovassi.
First stop Vathi
Samos Town, i.e. Vathi, which is reached through sea way, is the centre of the island. With a square with a lion statue, harbor, fisher and cruise boats at the coast, Vathi is a classical island town. Narrow and stone-paved streets by the coast smell jasmine. The houses are so close to each other that people in opposite windows seem like they can hug each other. Tourist accommodating countless number of hostel and hotels are located in the city centre. Tourists staying in these places can easily get to the beaches, mostly sandy, by buses. In this town, beside very nice streets, there is an archeology museum, countless number of souvenir shops, restaurants with incredibly tasty appetizers which should be visited. Out of the town, in Kerveli which is located on the side of a mountain, there are taverns with incredible scenes. You should certainly try these places’ most popular dish, fish, and its alternatives.
Karlovassi and Hereon
When you leave Vathi, after 30 kilometers you reach Karlovassi which hosts island’s second harbor. This place is famous for its churches, but there is another thing which is as beautiful as the churches: coasts. The Kerketeus Mountain and its peak point can be observed from this point. You can get to Hereon, in other words to the city of Hera, through Karlovassi. Hereon is an important place from archeological perspective and it is known for its Hera Temple. Only one column exists from this temple now, but according to the sources it is bigger than famous Parthenon in Antina. Aphrodite and Hermes temples are located around Hera Temple and their remnants can be seen in some places. This area is in the World Heritage List and as a whole it is a protected area.
When you get to Pytagorio after leaving Hereon, you come across a harbor with a statue of Pythagoras in it. Whether because of the existence of the airport in this place or because its name after famous mathematician Pythagoras, Pythagorio is more popular than the island’s center Vathi. Lykourgos Logothetis Fortress which was built in 1824 is one of the popular sites among the visitors. The person, whose name was given to the fortress, fought in the front lines during the independence war. 400-meter long castle was built on a ruined building by the inhabitants of the islands who were fighting against the Ottomans. The church next to the fortress, every year on August 6, hosts festivals which are held to celebrate independence of the island.
Eupalinos Tunnel and Panagia
If you are on a cultural tour in Pytagorio, where there are many alternative beaches for those who love swimming and sun bathing, you should see Eupalinos Tunnel. The tunnel, which was built by Eupalinos in 542 B.C., was carrying fresh water to the city. Polykrates conducted several infrastructure activities during this era. The water had to be brought from the main source behind the Kastro Mountain. And they did so. At the end of this 2-kilometer long tunnel with 2-meter diameter, an old amphitheatre is drawing the attention and from here the route goes to Panagia Spiliani Monastery. This place was discovered in 1456 and has been repaired many times. There is a church at the right end of the cave which is reached by going down 95 stairs. Panagia Spiliani, which was attributed to the Virgin Mary, means “Cave’s Mary”. In this small church there is also a small icon named Panagia Kaliarmenissa. Panagia Kaliarmenissa means “good traveler”. There is a tale about source of this name. According to this tale, few foreigners who come to the island steal the icon and want to take it to their country. On the ship the board, the icon falls into the sea and it gets divided it into 5 pieces. After a while the sea unites the icon and drags it to one of Samos’ coasts. Local people find the icon and take it to its old place and preserve it there. Old Pytagorio city’s remnants and close coasts of Turkey can be seen from the point where the structure exists.
Important position in history
Later, in 440 B.C. Athenians attacked Samos Island. After this the island was conquered by, respectively, Macedonians, Egyptians, Romans and in 1479 by the Ottomans. The earthquake that took place in 1475
with its harbors and temples, Pythagorio with Spiliani Monastary and antique tunnel, and Karlovassi with its beaches
Evpalinos Tunnel which is dated to 542 B.C., is a magnificent example of the antique city’s infrastructure. It is possible to reach to the other side of the city by walking through 2-kilometer long tunnel.
4,5 meter long and the most famous archaic statue of the world is one of the most interesting work in the archaeological museum of Samos