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Samos Attractions

The island of Sámos (Turkish Sisam) is a green, well wooded island which has only recently become a target for mass tourism, with the site of one of the most important sanctuaries and cultural centers of the ancient world, the Heraion.

Samos Town (Khora), Greece

Since 1832 the island's of Sámos' capital has been the little town of Sámos, which was founded in that year. It lies in a semicircle round the sheltered inner harbor of Vathy, climbing picturesquely up the hill with its olive groves to the upper town of Apáno Vathy. It has an attractive square and picturesque little streets and alleys.
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Sámos Archaeological Museum

The Sámos Museum, housed in the former residence of the Prince of Sámos and a new building opposite it financed by the Volkswagen Foundation and opened in 1987, displays material recovered in the German excavations of the Heraion from 1910 onwards.
The main hall of the museum had to be specially enlarged to accommodate the most sensational find made in the Heraion, the colossal marble figure, 4.8m/15.5ft high, of an Archaic kouros (C. 580 - 570 B.C.), possibly a votive statue from the Sacred Way. The torso was found in 1980 and the head (70cm/27.5 inches high) in 1984 near the Heraion; the knee had been found 70 years earlier, in 1912. Also displayed in the hall is an Archaic over-lifesize female figure (C. 570 B.C.) excavated in 1984, a counterpart to the famous Hera of Cheramyes, found in the Heraion in 1879, which is now one of the treasures of the Louvre.
In the room to the left are the base and three of the original six figures in a group by Geneleos, a sculptor of the Archaic period (C. 560 B.C.). The room to the right contains Hellenistic and Roman sculpture. On the upper floor is prehistoric material (pottery, ivories, bronzes).

Pythagorion, Greece

The friendly little port of Pythagórion or Tigáni, 11km/7mi southwest of Sámos town on the south coast of the island, occupies the site of the ancient city of Samos. There are remains of town walls (fourth century B.C.) and the foundations of a breakwater. On the acropolis hill, near the cemetery, are the church of the Transfiguration (Metamórfosis) and a castle built by Lykourgos Logothetis (1822-24). Close by is the site of a Hellenistic villa, on which a Christian basilica was built in the fifth century. A small museum contains Archaic and Hellenistic funerary stelae, portraits of Roman Emperors and a seated figure of Aiakos, father of Polykrates. No structures belonging to the ancient acropolis have been found.
In the eastern part of the site of the ancient city is the monastery of the Panayía Spilianí, below which, reached on a signposted path, is a depression marking the site of a theater.
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Pythagorion Archeological Collection

The Pythagorion Archeological Collection includes finds from ancient Sámos and the Heraion.

Aqueduct of Eupalinos

West of Pythagórion, on the island of Sámos, is the entrance to an underground aqueduct, 1km/.75mi long, constructed by Eupalinos in the sixth century B.C. Some 1.75m/5ft 9in high and wide, it has been made passable for visitors. About 425m/465yd from the entrance can be seen the point where the two shafts, one driven from each end, met one another, making an almost perfect joint.
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Héraion

Eight km/5mi west of Pythagórion (19km/12mi from Sámos town) is the Heraion, the sanctuary of the goddess Hera. Here, according to an ancient legend, at the mouth of the river Imbrasos the Ionian settlers led by Prokles found a wooden image caught in the branches of a willow tree. Recognizing it as a cult image of Hera, they set up an altar beside the tree.
Along the processional way between the town of Sámos and the Heraion stood a variety of votive statues, including the group by Geneleos to be seen in the museum in Sámos town. Its place is now taken by a replica.
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  • (1) Monopteral temple
  • (2) Hekatompedon
  • (3) Roman peripteral temple
  • (4) Christian basilica
  • (5) Rotunda
  • (6) Roman naiskos
  • (7) Corinthian temple
  • (8) Roman baths
  • (9) Roman base

Altar of Rhoikos

The original altar by the willow tree was followed by others. The seventh was the altar by the sculptor Rhoikos (ca. 550 B.C.; partly rebuilt), which in size and magnificence was surpassed only by the great altar of Zeus at Pergamon.

Temple of Hera

To the west of the altar at Heraion is the temple of Hera. The modest wooden Temple I (first half of eighth century B.C.) and Temple II (after 670 B.C.) were succeeded by a colossal stone structure, Temple III, built by Rhoikos and Theodoros in 570-550 B.C. This covered an area 105m/345ft by 52.5m/172ft and had a double peristyle of Ionic columns 18m/60ft high, 104 in all. Soon afterwards this temple was destroyed, and Polykrates thereupon commissioned a replacement, Temple IV. Covering an area 112.2m/368ft by 55.16m/181ft, this was the largest temple ever designed by Greek architects, but - like other gigantic Ionic temples - it remained unfinished. Nothing of this temple now survives except its massive foundations and a single column. Finally, a small peripteral temple of 4 x 6 columns was built close to the altar to house the cult image.
The high water-table made excavation difficult, but the work of E. Buschor and his successors has made it possible to follow the development of the sanctuary in detail. In 1963, the excavators even brought to light the remains of the ancient willow tree. Near the site of the temples is the apse of an Early Christian church. To see some of the other remains in the area - including the basin in which the image of Hera was annually bathed - it is necessary to have either a knowledgeable guide or a good plan of the site.
The return to Sámos town is either via Pythagórion or by way of the island's medieval capital, Khóra (7.5km/4.5mi from the Heraion), and Mytilíni (10.5km/6.5mi; pop. 5,000).

Circuit of Island

The scenery along the north coast of Samos is particularly attractive with narrow valleys and terraced slopes. The road from Sámos town along the north coast, which is mostly fringed by cliffs, comes in 10.5km/ 6.5mi to the little port of Kokkári. About half-way there, near a chapel of Ayía Paraskeví on the right of the road, is a modest Early Christian baptistery. Beyond Avlákia (20km/12.5mi) a road goes off on the left to Vourliótes (3km/2mi), from which it is 2km/1.25mi to the Vrontianí monastery (founded 1566), on the northern slopes of Mt Ampelos.
The coast road continues to Áyios Konstantínos (26km/16mi) and Karlovási (32km/20mi), a port of call for the regular boats. The remote west coast is picturesque but can only be reached on foot by means of steep and tortuous paths.
From here, there is an attractive return route to Sámos through the beautiful hilly country in the interior of the island, passing through Pyrgos, Koumaradéi and Khóra.
There are a number of other monasteries on the island, including Zoodókhos Piyí (founded 1756; extensive views), 8km/5mi east of Sámos, Profítis Ilías (founded 1625), 4km/2.5mi south of Karlovási, and Stavrós (founded 1586), 3km/2mi east of Khóra.

Karlovasi, Greece

Karlovasi is filled by trees, springs and Neo-Classical houses coexisting with the modern elements of this strange city consisting of three neighborhoods.
On a hill nearby is the Monastery of the Transformation of the Savior, built in the 11th century.
There are also pebble-covered beaches nearby.

Vronta Monastery, Vourliotes, Greece

Vourliotes is a mountain village with picturesque roads and characteristic architecture.
The Vronta Monastery (Panayía Vrontainí) lies three km from the village. This is one of the most interesting monasteries on the island, with a marvelous wood-carved temple and an icon of the Madonna decorated with silver.

Pyrgos, Greece

Church in Pyrgos.
From the village of Pyrgos, it is 2 km to the monastery of Megáli Panayía, which is rich in frescoes and icons, and has a wonderful wood-carved temple.

Mytilinioi Palaeontological Museum

The well-known Mytilinioi Palaeontological Museum houses remnants of animals which lived on this island millions of years ago.

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