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History of Samos: Informations about history of Samos, greek islands




The name Samos is said to supposedly originate from the area of Sami at Kefallonia from which it is believed that the first settler of the island Agkaios, who had taken part in the Argonautic campaign originates or from Samon the daughter of Agkaios. According to the geographer Meletios the name originates from the son of the God Ermis and Rinis, Sao. On the other hand the historical researcher Bochort supports that the name originates from the ancient nation Saious that settled on the island.

The researches of the eastern languages attribute the name to the Ionic dialect "sama" which means height because of the high mountains of the island. The name Samos was first mentioned in the hymn for Apollo in the Homeric verse number 41. Many people in ancient times named it Parthenia, from the river Partheno according to the mythology the Goddess Ira would bath in.

It was also named Melamfillos, Dirousa, Dorisa, Anthemis, Fillas, Kiparissia, Stafani and Imbrasia. Most of these surnames are related with the rich vegetation, which even today is spread throughout the entire island. It is not an accidental that the Turks name it "Sousan Anta".


The truth about the beginning of life on the island does exists due to the many myths and the legends that cause even the most aspiring researchers to come to a dead-end. In any case most support that the first settlers of the island were the Naiads, the Maenads mythical monsters that caused earthquakes and geological realignments and based on the testimony of Iraklidis of the Pontikon their bones were spread throughout the whole island. At the paleontological museum Mitilinou Samos the exhibits of the remains of large sized animals show evidence of the existence of life millions of years ago. They are from "Pikarmiki fauna" period of the animal kingdom in the Hellenic area that is dated back 13 million years.

Ancient Samos was a splendid city with an excellent technical harbor, which was protected by a huge wave breaker, 370 meters in length and 35 meters of depth inside the sea. The ancient wave breaker is still preserved in its whole even to date, but due to the sinking of the ground it is found immersed at the bottom of the bay of Tigani. The ancient city was built on the slopes of today's hill of the Virgin Mary of Spilianis and it was surrounded with walls 6,7 klms long with 31 small towers.



The first inhabitants of the island were the Saioi, who replaced the Pelasgoi. Works are improved the being of settlement by the Neolithic times about in 2000 and 2800 BC. This civilization is placed among the "Civilization of Salliagou" and paralleled like Macedonia, Thraki and Sterea Ellada, because of usual issues that represented to vessels and it is a lot senior from Cycladic Civilization. The next inhabitants were the Leleges and in continue are coming Kares.

According to Thoukididis the carriers of the Cyclade civilization were the Leleges and the Kares, who made their presence evident in Ikaria, Limno, and Troia. After the collapse of the Cyclade civilization from the Minoan, the dispute of the Mycenaeans and the Minoans followed, where the first ones are crowned winners.

The first Mycenaean settlers arrived around 1360 B.C., with king Agkaios after the instigation of God Apollo.

The colonization of the island from inhabitants of Lesvos around 1140 B.C is considered a historical fact with Kidrolaos the son of the king of Lesvos being in charge. Preserved on the island are monuments of an older period, the so-called Cyclopean walls, which their historic identity has not been verified. The colonization of the island from ancients is completed around 1350 b.c. and by Iones around 900 b.c.


Until the 7th century there is no evidence of population changes taking place on the island. During this period the island takes part in the Lilantio war and in the middle of the same century it takes part in the B΄Mycenaean war, with King of Amfikrati. During the second half of the same century, Samos created colonies in Samothraki, Amorgo, and in Tartisso, city of southeastern Spain. Newer colonies are consisted of Nagis and Kelenderis on the coasts of Kikilia, the colonies Perintho, Iraio Wall and Bisanthi, and the coast of Propondis. Also significant colonies were founded in Lower Italy, Sikelia and Egypt.

The island flourished during the period of the tyrant Polikratis around 550 b.c. According to Herodotus, Samos was appointed "fist amongst the first, Greeks and barbarians". Polikratis with the help of his two brothers succeeded in becoming a tyrant and later exterminated the brothers that had helped him. He managed to organize a powerful navy with which he dominated the Aegean and took hold of a large part of Asia Minor. At islands shipyards a new type of ship with the 50 oars, the famous Samaina was built.

After the defeat of Kroisos from the king of the Persians, Samos was also threatened. Polikratis succeeded in refuting the attack and then gathered all the mothers of the ones killed in battle and ordered the rich to support them on gratis. That is where the ancient parable "Polikratis distributes mothers " comes from. With intelligent strategies, expansions and victories the island flourished and unique technical structures began to be constructed. Constructions that included the Evpalinio Origma, in other words the ancient water-reservoir, the temple of Ira and the "sand in the sea", in other words the ancient harbor.


The Evpalinio Origma is thought as the peak of technical creativity of ancient Samos and one of the greatest achievements of the entire ancient world. It is the ancient water-reservoir of the city, which was found inside the mountain of the Virgin Mary of Spiliani and was constructed in 550 B.C. by Evpalini, the famous plumber from ancient Megara. The project was made up of a tunnel of 853 meters in length and of a height and width comfortable for the passing thought of one person to a depth of 80 meters below the surface of the ground. Large pipes made of clay that carried water, while under the tunnel there was an underground passage. The accidental discovery of this project came to light in 1881 from the priest of the monastery of the Saint Triadas Kirillo.

The people of Samos of that period were one the first Greek navigators. The Samian Kirilaios is said to have discovered the Girbraltar. The beginning of the end of a brilliant period ends with the martyrdom death of Polikratis from the Persian satrap Orsitis who mislead him through deceit and murdered him. The island experienced a period of instability, decline and the control moved over to the Persians.

The famous architect and mechanic from Samos Mandroklis that managed to connect Bosporos by creating a bridge with ships in order to have the army of Darios pass over to Europe and offered the people of Samons glory.

When Darios did not succeed in Skithia, Lerinthos a colony of Samos in Propondida revolted against the Persians together with the Greek cities from the Bosporos and the Troada. This revolution resulted in being the forerunner of the Ionic revolution. In 479 b.c. in the naval battle of Mikali the Samians defeated the Persians with the help of the Greek fleet and the island became a member of the Athenian Alliance. The island with its new prosperity caused the competitive malice of Athens with the instigation of Aspasia, wife of general Pericles, who came from Militos a city that was a rival to Samos.

The Athenians destroyed the island that did not manage from that time to reclaim its lost power. The destiny of the island was associated with that of the Athenian government and the Athenians granted the people of Samos autonomy and rebuilt the walls that they had destroyed.

In the Hellenistic years of Alexander the Great, the island became semi-autonomous and was already under the domination of the Macedonians. After that Samos like all the other Greek cities become a part of the "Suburbs of Asia" under the Roman Empire. Around the end of the Miuthridatian pirates harassed war the island. With the epoch-making rupture of Antonios and Oktavianos the island hosts the fleets and was the erotic refuge of Antonios and Cleopatra around 40 b.c. During the years of Domitianos and Valerios Messalinas it belonged to "Province of the islands" with its capital being Rhodes.

During the whole period of domination from the Romans the island experienced large catastrophes both by the Romans but also from the pirate attacks. Around the 5th century it was destroyed by the attacks of the German tribes.

During the Byzantine period and the division in counties the island became the 6th county. In the midst of the 7th century it was plundered by attacks from the Sirians and around 880 b.c. it was conquered by the Tripoliti of Emiri of Crete. In 1024 the island drives back the raid of the Russians in the Aegean and in 1809 the Turks conquer it.

The decline of the island continues during the period of the Franks (1207-1479). The inhabitants of the island are now very few, who abandon the island and take refuge at the island of Chios. The time period between 1476 and 1562 was a time of depopulation. Under these conditions the Turks invaded the desolated island, which they colonized it in 1550. With the allowance of privileges to the Christians who were settled at the island, Samos reorganizes. The island was essentially autonomous during the years of the Turkish occupation until the 18th century, at which time two factions called Kallikantzaroi and Karmanioloi claim the leadership. The internal conflicts contributed in the maturing of the inhabitants and prepared them for the revolution of 1821.

The island became organized and implemented the celebrated "Military political System of Samos".

In spite of the fact that the island was located close to Turkey and was very far from Athens, the people of Samos were some of the first who took part in the struggle against the Turkish yoke. With systematic raids on the coasts of Asia Minor they created intense diversions and they helped greatly this way with the Greek revolution. Under the protection of the Greek fleet the Turks could not threaten the island.

With their commander Lykourgos Logothetis and the courageous Captain Stamatis the Turks kept their distance for many years. With the liberation, the island stayed out of the Greek nation, but it became independent and acquired its autonomy. In spite of the success of Samos, in 1830 the mighty powers of that era decided that the island should be given over to Turkey with the agreement that it retains its autonomy.

In 1832 the Sultan recognizes the island as principality with tax tribute, and the High Gate appointed a Greek leader with his own parliament. The leaders that will follow were personally friendly towards the Turks, something that dissatisfied the inhabitants. In 1849 the inhabitants revolted with the presence of Turkish force on the island. In 1912 Themistoclis Sofoulis arrived on the island and with the help of the people dismisses the Turkish powers and formed a temporary revolutionary government, the so-called "Union of Samos after the free Greek Monarchy".On year later in 1913 the Greek fleet raised the Greek flag on the island.

From then on the island followed the fortune of the Greek nation. The supreme regime made the inhabitants unhappy but the island blossomed in both the commercial, economic, cultural and the intellectual sector. The incorporation of the island in the Greek force brought on its growth and prosperity.


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