Pythagoreio – the world’s port
Pythagoreio is a cosmopolitan destination, bustling with life and teeming with visitors every summer. The small town is built on the south-eastern edge of the island, 12 km from Vathy, the main town and administrative capital of Samos. Travellers are captivated by its beaches, its charming Aegean architecture, its vibrancy and its beautiful nightspots. But modern Pythagoreio also hides great treasures for lovers of history and archaeology, since it is also a very ancient settlement of great archaeological significance.
The Argonaut Ancaeus, whose son Agapenor later became king of Arcadia, is considered to be the first settler of ancient Samos. Excavations at the Castle in Pythagoreio indicate that the area was inhabited from the Neolithic period at least. The ancient port of Samos was located where the town is today. Polycrates, ruler of Samos in the second half of the sixth century BC organized the construction of a number of important building projects which still impress the visitor today with their excellent standards of construction.
The Eupalinian aqueduct
In 550 BC, the architect Eupalinos undertook the task of constructing a 1,036m tunnel, at the order of tyrant Polycrates, to connect the two sides of the mountain and supply water to the ancient capital of Samos. This innovative aqueduct had to be invisible to enemies, so as not to be destroyed in case of attack to the island. Eupalinos was such a great engineer that, through mathematical calculations alone, he began digging this two-way tunnel on both sides of the mountain simultaneously.
A decade later, the two crews met in the middle of the mountain with no deviation whatsoever! In fact, to give the slave workers an incentive, Eupalinos made a promise, which he kept: upon completion of the work, he set the slaves free. This is indeed the work of a true engineering genius.
A naval power
The harbour, the “raised land by the sea”, is the most ancient man-made harbour to which written reference is made. Samos developed into a major naval power, with a large fleet and many colonies, even beyond the so-called Pillars of Hercules – the entrance to the Mediterranean Sea. It continued to be a leading cultural and commercial centre of the Mediterranean region throughout antiquity.