Greek Guide

 

Samos Tourist Attractions Day Trips Greece Greek Travel Guide

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Fill your days on Samos with wonderful walks through its densely forested mountainous countryside, explore its gorgeous hilltop villages and visit the island's fascinating historic sites. Sadly, many tourists view Samos as a stepping stone to nearby Turkey and fail to take the time to linger over its wealth of natural and man made treasures.

Of the island's three ports, Pythagorio on the south coast has most to offer visitors. This attractive, cobble paved town was the birthplace of the great 6th century BC mathematician and philosopher Pythagoras whose statue looks out to sea on the harbourfront. From 535 522 BC the ancient city was ruled by the tyrant Polykrates who ordered the construction of what came to be regarded as the three greatest engineering feats of Ancient Greece. His most elaborate project was the vast and splendid Sanctuary of Hera, the ruins of which you can see today six kilometres south west of Pythagorio. Only one of the original 134 columns supporting the mighty structure remains but the foundations will give you an idea of the sheer scale of the temple dedicated to the wife and sister of the king of the gods, Zeus. The temple was the biggest ever constructed in Greece and was four times the size of the Parthenon.

Polykrates' second major undertaking was the 450 metre jetty of Samos. The remains lie beneath and beyond the smaller modern jetty on the opposite side of the harbour from the quay. The third and quite incredible project was the Efpalinio Tunnel, hand dug through the mountain by a thousand slaves using primitive tools and no measuring equipment. Two teams started at opposite ends of the tunnel and spent 15 years digging, finally meeting within a few metres of each other. You can walk about 150 metres into the tunnel which was built to channel mountain spring water to the city.

The capital of Vathy, in the north east corner of the island, lacks Pythagorio's charm but its fascinating archaeological museum containing finds from the Sanctuary of Hera is well worth a visit. The star exhibit is a five metre "kouros" (statue of a male nude) dating from 580 BC. It's the largest free standing statue of its kind to have been excavated from the countless archaeological sites throughout Greece.

At Mytilini, 12 kilometres west of Vathy, you can see animal fossils dating back 15 million years at the village's palaeontological museum. The collection includes the bones of ancient hippos, rhinos and the 13 million year old fossilised brain of a horse.

Make time to visit the delightful hill towns of Manolates, Vourliotes and Stavrinides in the Platanakia district inland from the village of Agios Konstantinos on the north coast. Wonderful walking trails link the villages taking you through a verdant countryside of lush valleys, cascading streams, dense forests and vineyards.

Hardened hikers will be keen to tackle the slopes of Mount Kerkis in the west of the island. Rising to 1,437 metres it's the second highest peak in the Aegean after Saos on Samothraki.