In and around Pythagoreio

Overlooking the port and the sea from the only defensible position along this stretch of shore-line—the former acropolis hill to the west—stand the circuit walls of a large 11th-century Byzantine castle, which enclose the remains of a Hellenistic villa, and are now partly occupied by the church of the Metamorphosis tou Soti­ros. The eastern fortifications and rounded corner towers are excellent examples of the Byzantine constructional technique of stabilising stone walls with densely packed brick-tiles in the interstices. Beside the church is a marble bust to Lycourgos Logothetis (ne Giorgios Paplomatas) (1772–1850), Samian militiaman and politician who led his fellow islanders in an independence revolt in April 1821. He designed and built the church of the Metamorpohosis between 1831 and 1833, to be a memorial of the Battle of Gerontas in the Straits of Mycale in August 1824, and as a thanksgiving for the Greek naval victory there over the Turks.

   Though born and educated in Karlovasi, he passed his later youth abroad and only returned to Samos in his mid-30s having acquired the title ‘Logothete’ (an archaic Byzantine honorific for a senior administrative official, or ‘chancellor’) in the court of Romania. He went on to lead the progressive political grouping on the island. He masterminded and participated in the landing on Chios in 1821, in an attempt to force the hand of the neutral Chiots to join the insurrection against Turkey, ultimately provoking the appalling reprisals visited on Chios in 1822. As Samos successfully repelled repeated Turkish attacks (1821, 1824 and 1826) and maintained its autonomy, he established a constitution for the island, and, apart from a spell in prison, was a prominent leader in the productive years until 1834, when Samos was left outside the in dependent Greek State and became a semi-autonomous principality under the umbrella of the Sultanate in Istanbul. At this point he went into self-imposed exile and did not return again to Samos before his death in 1850.

   The tower and castle-buildings to the south and west of the church were all re-built after 1824 to commemorate the Battle of Gerontas, as part of a project of reconstruction, symbolic of the new and special status earned by Samos in the War of Independence.

   On the mountain behind the city is another site which was reorganised in the 19th century, but whose antiquity as a place of worship and refuge is considerable. The monastery of the Panaghia Spiliani­ (1.5km from Pythagoreio, by a right branch from the road leading to the Tunnel of Eupalinos) occupies a panoramic ledge on the mountainside in front of a broad, shallow cave, whose interior conserves an unearthly cool. In the 1880s the church and buildings in front were re-constructed, and the interior of the cave re-organised: the water tanks and cisterns were placed to collect water from seams to the left, the back wall with its solitary column fragment was closed and plastered, and the small chapel to the Virgin was fitted into the wedge shaped space of the narrow right-hand end of the cave, on the place where the more ancient cult—probably of the Nymphs—preceded it.

Samos Island is part of the Northern Aegean Island Group, Greece.

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