The island of Hera and Pythagoras | Hotel Aria
A treasure trove of beaches, greenery and sacred geometry
Samos is an island ruled by legend and beauty. It is the island of the father of mathematics, Pythagoras, the astronomer Aristarchus and the philosopher Epicurus. It is the home of Hera and the land that hosted Herodotus and Aesop. An important center of trade in the Aegean and a major naval force in antiquity, it came into contact with important Mediterranean cultures.
It is no accident that the great historian Herodotus considered Samos first among all Greek and barbarian cities. Centre of the Ionian civilization, the island saw times of indescribable splendour, which still remains. Even today, its proximity to the coast of Asia Minor makes the island a bridge between the two cultures, a difference that did not hinder the co-existence, cooperation and friendship of the two peoples living across the water from each other.
The mythical birthplace of Hera, Samos is home to the largest temple in Greece (according to Herodotus) at the seaside settlement of Heraion, dedicated exclusively to the goddess of marriage and women. Of its 155 gigantic columns, only one still stands and is indicative of the scale of this place of religious worship that includes ruins of at least three earlier temples.
Samos is a place of overwhelming vegetation. Everything around the virgin landscape is made of colour and light. Each step one takes is a revelation. Whether in the imposing mountains, such as Mt. Kerkis and Mt. Ambelos with alpine winter temperatures and endless rain or in caves and canyons, the environment of Samos reminds one of the Greek hinterland in miniature.
Walk along Mt. Kerkis, from Votsalakia in Marathocampos, to its peak, Mt. Vigla, at an altitude of 1,400m. Along your hike you will see over 1,400 species of rare plants, many of which are endemic to the island, as well as dozens of species of birds of prey.
Wander around the settlements, along old cobble streets, and see Sarakini Tower, a magnificent structure of the 16th century, a true fort of its era.
Visit the convents of Zoodochos Pigi Aliotissa, Agia Zoni, with its splendid library, and Timios Stavros, with is impressive throne.
Climb the steps to the church of Panagia Sarandaskaliotissa, built at the entrance of Pythagoras Cave, where the ancient Greek mathematician found refuge when being persecuted by tyrant Polycrates.
The terrain of Samos is a challenge to those who choose to ride mountain bikes on their travels. Each summer, an increasing number of cyclists, fully equipped for their adventures, visit the island's trails. Local cyclists meet at the architecturally innovative chapel of Agios Ioannis, at Potami, above the pebble beach of Potamos, and ride towards Karlovassi, Konstantinos and Kokkari. Birdwatchers set up near the Alyki habitat or Glyfada Lake to photograph herons, Dalmatian pelicans and pink flamingos that rest here before continuing their migration. When the flamingos ascend into the sky at dusk, their colour mingles with the red sunset, creating a visual extravagance that visitors cant forget!
When the heat covers the island like a blanket, those in the know start their journey to Karlovassi waterfalls early in the day. The larger of the two waterfalls is five metres high and one has to climb 60 wooden steps to reach the clearing offering a panoramic view of the waterfall.
On this luxuriantly green island on the northeastern edge of the Aegean, covered by pine forests, olive and citrus groves and vineyards, myth and history take on a special allure. This was the birthplace of the goddess Hera, wife of Zeus; of Aristarchos, the celebrated astrophysicist who first expounded the theory of the earths rotation; and of the great mathematician Pythagoras. You will find traces of their presence, as you discover Samos cool, clear waters, untouched mountain villages, delicious local foods and superb sweet wine.What to do on Samos
Samos has a plethora of antiquities and attractions for you to discover. Among them, the walls of Polykrates, the Ancient Theatre and Roman Baths, and the amazing tunnel of Eupalinos, one of the great engineering feats of all time. Finally, the Temple of Hera was one of the largest temples in Greece.Vathy, living traditions in the present tense
Have a wander around the old part of Samos main port-town, built on a hillside overlooking the sea. The narrow streets and handsome two-storey houses with tiled roofs and charming individual features will give you a glimpse of pre-20th-century life. Some homes attract your attention with an elegant stone staircase, others will have interestingly carved wooden doors, or the enclosed balconies typical of Anatolia. But walk down to the waterfront and youre back in today. The town extends around the deep bay that gave it its name.Beaches, beaches, beaches
Youll have an embarrassment of riches and the fun of searching for the one you like best. Do you prefer organised or private and pristine? Vast sandy stretches or intimate coves? Crowded and sophisticated or remote-and-bring-your-own-picnic? Sand or fine pebbles? Beaches of every type skirt the island. On the north coast, you could start with popular Kokkari and the quieter beaches next door (Lemonakia, Tsamadou, Tsambou) as far as Agios Konstantinos.
Near Karlovasi theres Potami, a big, beautiful strand, with a selection of bars and restaurants behind it. At Vathy, everyone flocks to Psili Ammos (fine sand) and Mykali, a beach that goes on forever. The south coast offers Kambou, Votsalakia (little pebbles) and gorgeous Chrysi Ammos (golden sand). Take your pick or try them all.An aperitif with a pedigree
Samos reputation for fine wine goes back to antiquity. Its no accident that the Catholic Church used to have a special order of accredited Samos wine for its Holy Communion services. Today the famous local grape, Muscat Blanc a Petits Grains, continues to produce a dessert wine that has oenophiles raving.Hidden gems of Samos
The pine of Samos is harder and more resistant to weather than other types of wood. Its excellent quality led to shipbuilding becoming a major occupation on the island. From the ancient Samaines, wooden biremes that dominated the Aegean in the 6th century BC, until the advent of the steamship, the boats of Samos were always superior. You can still see one of the last tarsanas (or shipyards) from this period at Agios Isidoros.Mountain villages, the aces up Samos sleeve
Drag yourself off that beach you discovered and venture into the mountains. Youll find delightful hamlets tucked into lush green slopes. Mt Kerketea and the area from Potami to Mikro and Megalo Seitani form a vast, unofficial natural park, just the place to enjoy the other side of Samos character.The cave of Pythagoras
Found at the foothills of Mt Kerketea is a cave where, according to some sources, Pythagoras hid when the tyrant Polykratis was pursuing him. There is also another version of history which says that Pythagoras used the cave as a sanctuary to contemplate philosophical issues undisturbed. Some 320 steps lead to the entrance of the cave, from where the view is spectacular.
8 Ioanni Lekati str.
Vathi, Samos, 831 00, Greece
Tel.: +30 22730 23619