Pythagoreion and Heraion of Samos (World Heritage)

By | August 20, 2021

The ruins of the ancient port city of Pythagoreion recall the significant history of the island off the Ionian coast, which had its heyday under the tyrant Polycrates in the middle of the 6th century BC. Experienced. The ruins and exposed monuments include parts of the city as well as large areas of the Heraion with the monumental Hera temple and the water tunnel of the Eupalinos.

Pythagoreion and Heraion of Samos: facts

Official title: Pythagoreion and Heraion of Samos
Cultural monument: Ruins of the sanctuary of Hera, in the 6th century BC The largest temple of its time with a size of 52.5×105 m, and the ancient port city of Pythagoreion with the remains of the ancient pier of Polykrates, with 6.5 km long city wall from the 4th century BC. In addition to 35 towers and 12 gates, the ancient residential town and the 1 km long tunnel of the Eupalino of Mégara for water supply
Continent: Europe
Country: Greece, Southern Sporades
Location: Pythagoreion and Heraion, southwest of the city of Sámos on the island of Sámos
Appointment: 1992
Meaning: Evidence of the long history of settlement on the island of Samos

Pythagoreion and Heraion of Samos: History

around 1000 BC Chr. Settlement by Ionian Greeks
532-522 BC Chr. It flourished under the tyrant Polykrates
522 BC Chr. Execution of Polykrates by the Persians
439 BC Chr. Captured by the troops of Pericles
133 BC Chr. Incorporation into the Roman Empire
1207 Occupation by Franconia
1475 Capture by Turks
1821 Participation in the Greek War of Liberation
1832 independent principality
1910 Beginning of excavations of the Heraion
1912 Connection to Greece
1963 Discovery of the sacred Lygos tree

Admired by Herodotus…

According to naturegnosis, the Greek historian Herodotus did not fail to receive praise when he reported on Sámos. The three most powerful structures built by the Greeks were found here: the dam of Sámos, the tunnel through Mount Ampelos and the stately sanctuary of Hera.

Indeed, these buildings are outstanding architectural and technical masterpieces of the pre-Christian millennium. Sámos was at the height of his power in the 6th century BC when the tyrant Polycrates ruled the island. Not only was the fortune of war on his side, he also knew how to rally important artists and scientists of his time, including Herodotus and Anacreon. With a sense of the art of war, he had a huge pier built, which protected the harbor, in which the fleet of 150 ships was moored. This port, created by the slave labor of slaves from Lesbos, is considered to be one of the technical highlights of ancient Greece. But the power of the tyrant relied not only on the fleet, but also on an army of more than a thousand archers.

With the help of the architect Eupálinos, Polykrates also succeeded in perhaps the most ingenious work of ancient Greek engineering: probably to be immune to any siege, he not only surrounded his capital with a city wall over six kilometers long, but also made provisions for the supply of drinking water during such unfortunate times. To this end, he had a more than one kilometer long tunnel, lined with water pipes, driven through the Ampelos mountain – the second known tunnel in history that was built using the opposite direction. It is believed that the construction work took between five and ten years. The technical masterpiece of a hidden and accessible, two-meter-wide tunnel, which was probably also intended as an escape route, was still used in later centuries, as numerous finds show.

A “holy road”, paved in Roman times, led almost straight to the Hera sanctuary seven kilometers southwest of the city. Multiple excavations have confirmed the legends that have been handed down that a holy place was established here in the earliest times. Excavation finds testify to ritual rituals from at least the second millennium BC. The early worship of a deity of the earth and fertility that was cultivated there merged around the turn of the first millennium BC with the worship of Heras, the wife of Zeus in Greek mythology. She was probably originally a pre-Greek goddess of nature and fertility, the “Bringer of everything,” as she was poetically praised. At first the goddess was worshiped in the form of a raw wooden board, which was only transformed into a human figure in the Greek era. After the first temples and altars were built in honor of the goddess around the middle of the sixth century BC, a huge temple was built two decades later, according to plans by the architects Rhoikos and Theodoros, “the largest we know” for Herodotus. A single column rising from the ruins still testifies to the grandeur of the building, which was built as a temple with a double row of columns. The pillars of this holy place rose up to twenty meters high into the sky. And the dimensions of the temple were huge for the time: It covered an area of ​​52.5 by 105 meters.

Today’s landscape of ruins can only be enlivened with great imagination; only fragments have been preserved of the life-size and larger-than-life statues of gods and humans that once lined the processional streets. But these and other remains, some of which can be admired in the local museum, testify to the high level of sculpture on Sámos.

Pythagoreion and Heraion of Samos