Samos History

To go into full detail of Samos Island history would take many pages, for it is as colourful as it is long; here we will give you a flavour of the Island history, and some of its historical people.


According to mythology the Island of Samos was home to large horrific beasts called Naiades or Neiades that produced loud howling shrieks. The shrieks were said to be so powerful that they could literally tear the earth apart and it by this means that Samos broke away from the Asian continent and took the shape that it is today.

Interestingly enough, bones of animals, millions of years old were found during excavations carried out near to the village of Mitilinii revealing that large pre-historic animals and other beast of rare species did in fact roam the Samian countryside.

Samos - the name

There are many stories regarding the origin of the island name, but the one that is more likely to be true is that of the Phoenician seafarers who, because of the islands high mountains and striking beauty called the island 'Sama', meaning 'high place'.


Hera, Goddess of fertility was born on the banks of the river Imvrassos on the southern part of Samos. Later on at the same spot she married Zeus, and it is from this period that the Goddess Hera became the protector of Samos Island. Many temples were built to worship the Goddess of fertility, the early ones made from wood, later replaced with larger stone structures. The last temple to be built was under the rule of Polycrates, it was 52.5 meters wide by 105 meters long and was one of the ancient wonders of the world. Located in Heraion, only a single column, visible from afar and a few column bases of rare beauty remain of this unrivalled cult centre of antiquity.


Pythagoras, born around 580 B.C first discovered that the unity and harmony of the Universe is due to the existence of laws that are expressed in arithmetic ratios. By his theorem 'the square of the hypotenuse of a right-angled triangle is equal to the sum of the squares of its two perpendicular sides' he laid down the foundations of trigonometry.


Aristarchus born around 310 B.C. was the most famous of ancient astronomers and he was the first to understand that the earth revolves about its axis and around the sun. Furthermore he calculated that the volume of the moon is 1/3 that of the earth and his calculations about the distance of the sun and the moon from the earth, were valid for over 18 centuries until such times that more scientific aparatus were developed and confirmed the accuracy of his calculations. Of his many writing, only the one entitled 'On the sizes and distances of the Sun and the Moon' has been saved to this day.


During the seventh and sixth centuries B.C. Samos began to flourish under the reign of Polycrates, the ruler who in the words of the historian Herodotus made Samos "the most famous city of its time".

Further History

The power and influence of Samos Island lasted long after the rule of Polycrates for the Island continued to play a prominent role in the history of the Ionian and Greek lands for many years.

The rule of Samos was passed over to Alexander the Great and his family successors and later on it was the turn of the Romans to conquer her. During the roman period Samos became the summer residence of the emperors, and it was here that Anthony and Cleopatra spent their honeymoon.

Samos became a provincial administrative capital during the middle of the sixteenth century; it was on Samos that the first Greek political parties were formed which played an important role in the Greek war of Independence. Samos alone, among all the Aegean islands held fast to the banner of liberty to the very end of the war, even though it could not be included in the newly established nation. Nevertheless it carried on the struggle for independence until finally a semi-autonomous hegemony was declared, providing for its own legislature and administration, its own educations system and its own police force. During this period the position of Prince-Administrator was appointed from Constantinople.

Finally in 1912, under the brilliant leadership of Themistocles Sophoulis, Samos once again revolted against the Turkish occupation and was at last reunited with Greece.