Greece the ideal destination


Samos Island the Ideal Destination

The Link Between Europe and Asia

Samos Island

Lying in the eastern Aegean sea just 1,500 metres from the Turkish coast, wooded and fertile Samos is an island of exceptional natural beauty. The island has countless attractions as well as a very good tourist infrastructure. The Ionian Greeks came to the island around 1000 BC and Samos reached its peak in the 6th century BC, under the rule of the tyrant Polykrates. The island was later conquered by the Persians before coming under the successive rule of the Macedonians, the Ptolemies of Egypt and the Romans. During the Byzantine period, the island suffered considerably from pirate attacks. When Constantinople was seized by the Turks in 1453, the people of Samos were forced to flee the island and take refuge on Chios island. Some of the greatest intellects of ancient times were from Samos, including the great mathematician and philosopher Pythagoras, the famous ancient architects Rhoikos and Theodoros, the moral philosopher Epicurus, the philosopher Melissos, Aesop the author of the timeless fables and Aristarchos the astronomer. Today, Samos has a well-developed tourist infrastructure and exceptional natural attractions. In addition to its magnificent beaches, the densly forested mountains are home to an estimated 1,100 plant species, including around 50 varieties of rare wild orchids. The island is also famous for its wines, particularly the white muscat wine which is unique to Samos and highly acclaimed by wine experts all over the world. With bright sunshine most of the year, Samos is an ideal holiday destination during spring, summer and autumn. The island can be accessed by air from Athens, Thessaloniki and a large number of European cities. There are also regular ferryboat services from Piraeus, the islands of the Dodecanese, the Cyclades and Eastern Aegean islands, as well as from Thessaloniki and Kousadasi-Turkey. The capital, Vathy (also known as Samos), is built amphitheatrically on the green slopes surrounding a deep bay in the north of the island. It basically comprises two parts - the harbour area and the picturesque old town higher up, with narrow winding alleys and elegant neoclassical houses. The Cathedral has a large collection of Byzantine icons, while the 17th century churches of St. Michael and St. Kara in the old part of the town have fine frescoes and woodcarvings. The Archaeological Museum contains findings from various sites on the island, exhibited in two buildings - the old and the new. Among the exhibits is the archaic 5 m. high statue of the 'Kouros of Samos'. The Museum of Ecclesiastical Art has a collection of Byzantine icons and manuscripts dating from the 13th and 14th centuries. The Folklore Museum has a rich collection of the island's folk art. The Palaeontological Museum displays skeletons of prehistoric animals and relics dating more than 13 million years ago. There is also a Picture Gallery and an interesting Library with a valuable collection of old books. The town has a number of excellent beaches within easy reach. The nearest village is Palaiokastro, a farming village known for its excellent tavernas. Six kilometres east of Vathy is the extraordinary 18th century monastery of the Mother of God. Close by, standing amidst eucalyptus and oleander trees, the large 17th century monastery of the Holy Girdle with a breathtaking view. Eleven kilometres to the south of Vathy is Pythagorio, the island's most popular tourist centre. In addition to its picturesque port, long beach and nearby archaeological sites, Pythagorio is also known for its enchanting nightlife and romantic atmosphere. Built on the ruins of the island's ancient capital, sections of the long 4th century BC town walls are well preserved. The fortress, built in 1824, stands on a hill SW of the harbour. In the vicinity is the entrance to the famous 6th century BC Aqueduct (Tunnel) of Eupalinos. This was one of the most impressive engineering works of antiquity. It was praised by Herodotus the historian as one of the wonders of the ancient world. Five kilometres west of Pythagorio lies the famous Temple of Hera - the Heraion. The Ionic temple originally had 155 columns, although only one still stands today at half its original height. Between the Heraion and Pythagorio lies the village of Potokaki with its long beach and fine fish tavernas. Not far from Pythagorion to the east are the Alykes salt flats and lagoon frequented by many species of rare birds. The second largest town on the island is Karlovassi, situated on the northwest coast, about 32 km. from Vathy. The attractive town is renowned for its elegant mansions, traditional pottery, marvellous beaches and vibrant cultural life. Of particular interest are the ruined Venetian fortress by the harbour, the three churches standing around the Byzantine monastery of St. John and the Cathedral. Other places of interest around the island include the lovely seaside village of Kokari (10 km. to the west of Vathy) with magnificent beaches. One of the most charming inland villages is Marathokambos, perched on the slopes of Mt. Kerkis overlooking the south coast of the island. The harbour of Marathokambos - Ormos - is a picturesque seaside settlement ideal for relaxation. A country lane in the direction of Mt. Kerki passes near the Cave of Pythagoras. In the centre of the island, the beautiful mountain village of Mavratzei stands in an enchanting location on a steep slope amidst pine and olive trees. Standing in a lush green valley 12 km. SW of Samos, Mitilini is known for its beautiful houses, churches and cool streams.

Samos Island