The word “Samos” is most probably Phoenician and it allegedly referred to Samos, son of the mythical settler of the island, Agaios. In written sources Samos is first mentioned in one of the Homeric Hymns to Apollo. In antiquity it took other names or appellations too: Anthemis, Dryoussa, Dorissa, Kyparissia, Imvrasia, Melamfytos, Parthenia.

The earlier traces of human presence on the island can be dated to the 4th millennium BC. The oldest inhabitants are considered to be the Pelasgians, while Carians and Leleges followed them. According to mythology, the island’s first king was Agaios, one of the heroes of the Argonautic campaign, an agile vine-grower and the founder of the first wooden temple of goddess Hera (Juno) near the estuary of river Imvrasos, the birthplace of the goddess, according to mythology.

According to historical sources, it appears that around the 11th century BC Ionians, under the command of Temvrionas and Prokles, settled on Samos and took control of the island. They divided Samos in two halves, Astypalaia and Chysia and founded a city, the Asty, in the area of today’s Pythagoreio.

Ionian Samos reached its peak in antiquity during the 6th century BC under the tyrant Polykrates. Samian seamanship and commerce were greatly developed during his age. With its galleys, the samaines, Samos ruled the Aegean Archipelago for a long period.

Modern representation of Samaina, the type of ship that dominated the Aegean Sea in the 6th century. B.C.

Since Archaic times already, colonies were founded by Samians at the opposite coasts of Ionia, Thrace, but also in the West (Dikaiarheia in Southern Italy). Special links with Egypt were also developed in this period, reflected in the friendship, mentioned by Herodotus, between Polykrates and the pharaoh Amasis. These trade relations and influences from Egypt are also apparent in the art of this era, with the monumental statues that were erected on the Ceremonial Road leading from the Heraion to the city of Samos.

However, Samians’ activities were not limited to the Levant. One of the most famous Samian navigators of this era is Kolaios who was reported to have crossed the Gates of Hercules (nowadays Gibraltar), reaching Tartessos in Spain.

This financial prosperity was followed by an analogous cultural one. Great names in science and art appeared in the same century.

Modern statue of Pythagoras in the town of Pythagorion, Samos Island.

The mathematician and philosopher Pythagoras, the architects of the Heraion temple and pioneers of sculpture Roikos and Theodoros (often referred as the inventors of the method of casting bronze statues by pouring the metal in wax moulds), the poet Simonides the Amorgian are amongst the most important ones. Meanwhile Samos attracts artists from other places such as Ivykos and Anakreon. It also founds colonies in near Ephesus, but also in Amorgos, Samothrace, Thrace and in distant Sicily. But, even during the following ages, despite the gradual decadence, there were still many important people of culture there. The historian Douris and the great astronomer Aristarchus, who supported the solar-centred system, were Samians, while the philosopher Epicurus was born and raised in Samos.

In the sea area between Samos and Asia Minor the last phase of the great conflict between the Greeks and the Persians took place. In the area of Mykale the Greeks defeated the Persians in a sea and land battle, putting a definite end to their efforts to expand towards the west.

After the Persian Wars Samos became a member of the Athenian Alliance. The Samians’ effort to keep an autonomous policy met the dynamic opposition of the Athenians, who, under Perikles, set the city on siege and after nine months they conquered it, destroyed the Asty and its fortifications and exiled many of the island’s inhabitants, colonizing it with poor Athenian farmers.

Samian tetradrachm, a silver coin of the early 4th century BC

During Hellenistic times Samos was under the influence of the Ptolemies of Egypt for long periods of time. Its harbour was used as an arsenal for the Egyptian fleet, as well as the harbour of their Rhodian allies. Later, as the rest of the Greek world, Samos was conquered by the Romans and ended up, after the final demolition of the polis-state and the Hellenistic kingdoms, a small island in a vast empire, and, as well as many other islands of the Aegean, a summer resort for Roman dignitaries. From this era many mosaic floors of high artistic value have survived. The Roman conquest brought, along with the “pax romana”, new inhabitants, new ways of life, new gods and cults. Relics of an arched aqueduct, hot baths, sanctuaries of Cybil, altars, offerings and other surviving monuments document the presence of the Romans on the island.

Roman baths complex near the town of Pythagorion, Samos Island

During the late antiquity Samos remains an important financial and cultural centre, without however reaching the prosperity of the archaic age.

1.1. The great technical works

During the century of Samos’ greatest prosperity (6th century BC), there were four impressive works on the island: the walls of Polykrates, the shaft of Efpalinos, the artificial harbour and the temple of Hera (Heraion).

The walls of Polykrates, reaching a length of 6430 meters, fortified the city (Asty) by enclosing an area of 1.2 square kilometres. Samians were forced to demolish a great part of the city walls after their defeat by Perikles in 439 BC.

The tunnel of Efpalinos was an aqueduct constructed in the middle of the 6th century BC by the architect Efpalinos from Megara to guarantee the supply of water for the city.

The Efpalinos Tunnel on Samos Island


It is a 1036 meters long tunnel, crossing the rocky mountain north of the city and is still admired today for the extreme accuracy of its digging, bearing in mind that rudimentary metric organs were used for the diggings, along with the tools of that time, hammer and chisel.

The following animation movie shows how the Efpalinos Tunnel was constructed:


This “two-edged” tunnel, as mentioned by Herodotus, operated for almost one thousand years until the 7th century AD, when it was eventually abandoned and its entrances blocked. It was rediscovered by father Kyrillos Moninas, a monk from the Monastery of the Holly Trinity of Mytilinioi in 1882.

The third great technical work of Polykrates’ era was the harbour with its piers and quays. The city’s natural harbour was divided in two parts by the two piers and other harbour works: the outer (commercial harbour) and the inner harbour, which housed the arsenal. The greatest harbour work was though the choma en thalassi (ground into the sea) a 360-metres long pier over which the more recent works of the Tigani (nowadays Pythagoreio) were founded. The cleaning and reconstruction works were completed under the hegemony of Georgios Konemenos (1851-1854) and Miltiades Aristarchis (1859-1867), who invited the engineer Ouman from Constantinople to undertake the study and the construction of the new Tigani harbour.

(Christos Landros)

1.2. The Heraion of Samos

One of the most important sanctuaries dedicated to Hera in the Greek region lies in a distance of about seven kilometres to the SW of the ancient city of Samos.

The Great Temple of Hera, Archaeological Site of Heraion on Samos Island


A sacred road led the visitors from the city to the sanctuary. The Heraion was constructed in the plain formed by the illuviation of the river Imvrasos. According to mythological tradition, Hera was born by the riverbank, under a wicker. The cult of Hera, as a goddess of nature and fertility, was developed in the region during the Mycenaean period and continued up to the Roman Imperial Period. However, the Heraion of Samos thrived in the Archaic period, when it surpassed in magnificence and wealth all its contemporary Greek sanctuaries. Impressive buildings, temples, treasures and stoas, as well as the wealth of offerings, contributed in the monumentality of the sanctuary. Religious festivals, namely the Tonaia or Heraia, including athletic games and musical contests, took place every year to honour the Goddess.

1.2.1. The building phases of the sanctuary Mycenaean period

A prehistoric settlement (3 millennium BC) occupied the area of the sanctuary in a earlier period. The religious character of the site is testified by a simple stone altar, dated to the Mycenaean period. A temple-like building to house the wooden statue of the goddess is also speculated. Geometric period

The first temple of Hera (Heraion I) was erected in the 8 cent. BC. It was a rectilinear building with the entrance at the east. It is one of the earliest Greek temples. It was probably peripteral with a wooden peristasis (6×17 columns), with an internal colonnade along the axis, while the walls were built with mud bricks. Because of its dimensions it is characterized as “Hecatompedon” (length of 100 feet). In the same period the altar became rectangular and it was orientated southeast. It is also likely that the small temple-like buildings located to the north and south of the altar were built. Archaic period 7th century BC

In circa 670 BC the first temple of Hera was destroyed by flood and on its ruins a new peripteral building was built, in about the middle of the 7th cent. BC, “Hecatompedon II (or Heraion II, dimensions 33 x 16 m.), with a similar plan but more evolved morphology. A basic difference with the previous temple was that the central posts of the cella which supported the roof were removed and replaced by a row of wooden posts in direct contact with the side walls. The south-western side of the temenos was defined by the South Stoa (70 x 5,90 m.). Towards the end of the 7th cent. BC, the altar was rebuilted. The most impressive among the votives of that period is a built base of boat, which was revealed to the south of the altar, implying that an entire boat was dedicated to the sanctuary. First half of the 6th cent. BC

In 570 to 560 BC the temenos is reformed to a great extent. Over the ruins of the South Stoa and the ‘Hecatopmedon’ temple a dipteral Ionic temple of Hera was erected (Heraion III). It was of colossal dimensions (52,5 x 105 m.). The monumental building was the work of the architects Rhoikos and Theodoros. Its plan, architectural decoration and proportions were apparently influenced by Anatolian and Egyptian models. The temple had a square pronaos and an enormous cella, divided by two colonnades into three aisles. It was generally considered to be a bold creation, one of the masterpieces of Ionic architecture in the Archaic period. It was probably destroyed by an earthquake a few decades after its completion (circa 530 BC).

The same architects must have constructed the altar of the sanctuary, which acquired monumental form and size. The altar was built as a rectangular construction (dimensions 36,5 x 16,5 m.), with a protective wall, 7 m. high, on the three sides, and a stairway on the west side which opened towards the temple, leading to the main sacrificial area. The “altar of Rhoikos” was a pioneering creation with rich architectural and sculptural decoration, whose magnificence was exceeded much later, in the Hellenistic years by the altar at Pergamon. In the same period the sanctuary was defined at its north side by a wall with an entrance gate and the adjacent North Stoa. Another peripteral temple, namely the South Building, was included in the same building programme. Probably work of the same architects, the South Building (13,1 x 39,3 m.) was orientated to the NE and an axial colonnade in the interior. The construction of the building began around the middle of the 6th cent. BC and was completed towards the end of the same century, while the worshipped deity remains unknown. The North Building was contemporary to the “Temple of Rhoikos” (Heraion III) as well. Although it was initially designed as a simple rectangular Ionic temple (dimensions 13,75 x 29 m.) with a two-aisled cella and adyton, towards the end of the 6th cent. BC it acquired a pteron with a double row of columns on the narrow sides.

On the Sacred Road, to the north-east of the temple, the two small temples in antis, temples A and B were founded, about the middle of the 6th cent. BC. In temple A (6,7 x 4,5 m.) the cult statue of Hera might have been carried during the construction of the new large temple (Heraion III). Second half of the 6th cent. BC

Through the ambitious building programme of the tyrant Polycrates (538-522 BC), the Heraion flourished greatly. A new Ionic dipteral temple of Hera (Heraion IV, dimensions 55,16 x 108,63 m.) was built in the last decades of the 6th century BC, probably by the architect Theodoros. Herodotus (III, 60) considered this to be the largest temple in Greece. A third row of columns was added to the facades while a double colonnade divided the pronaos and the cella, in three aisles. It is worth noting that the columns of the external peristasis had Ionic capitals with elaborate anthemion decoration, while the columns in the interior had capitals of a particular type without volutes, adorned by a simple zone of eggs (decorative motives in oval shapes). Different materials of construction (marble, poros limestone and limestone) were used, while the entablature must have been made of wood. The construction works of the temple continued after Polycrates’ overthrown. It is speculated that they lasted until the end of the 4th cent. BC. Nevertheless, the grandiose plan of the tyrant was probably never completed. Towards the end of the Archaic period a monopteros building (8 x 13 m.) was erected. The peripteral Ionic temple C and the temple in antis D, located to the north of the Sacred Road, are dated tothe second half of the 6th cent. BC. Hellenistic period

The great development of the sanctuary did not continue in the Classical period, due to the general political weakening of the island. On the contrary, in the Hellenistic period, the building activities were revived. The sanctuary became the place for the local elite to attract attention. New monuments were erected, with most notable a circular building of unknown use, a rectangular building to the south of the Sacred Road, and a fountain. Roman period

The building activity of Heraion continued into the Roman period, when many pre-existing buildings were repaired and new monuments were erected. In the Early Imperial Period a monumental stairway was added to the facade of the temple of Hera, while the altar was rebuilt with marble. A marble peripteral temple (20,35 x 18,96 m.) was constructed in the 1st cent. BC to the east of the temple to house the cult statue of the goddess. The combination of Ionic and Doric decorative motives as well as the adoption of Archaic morphological features in its architectural planning are particular interesting. Near the peripteral temple, a small temple and a Corinthian temple in antis were built in the 2nd cent. AD (7,4 x 12m.) During the 3rd cent. AD a small Corinthian temple of Roman type on a podium was erected, as well as a small complex of Thermae to the east of the temple of Hera. Numerous offerings and votive monuments completed the picture of Heraion of Samos in the Roman period. The most impressive monuments belong to the 1st cent. AD, like the monument to honour Augustus’ family and particularly the monument erected by the Samians to honour Cicero’s family. A short-lived settlement developed in the area of the sanctuary in the 3rd cent. AD, while in the Early Christian period (5th or 6th cent. AD) an imposing three -aisled basilica was constructed with material taken from the ancient buildings.

1.2.2. The Sacred Road

The Sacred Road, leading from the city of Samos to the Heraion, evolved during the Archaic period into an important topographic feature of the sanctuary. It was lined with Thesauruses, temple-like buildings used as treasuries for precious objects and offerings, as well as a great number of resolutions and sculptures. An explicit picture of the impressive site is given by the Archaic marble kouroi which were discovered in the Sacred Road, as well as the Genelaos Group, one of the most important works of the Archaic Ionian sculpture.

The Genelao’s group of statues, created in 560 BC on the Ceremonial Road leading from the Heraion to the city of Samos.

During the 5th cent. BC a colossal bronze group of sculptures was erected on the Sacred Road, representing Hercules, Athena and Zeus, a work of the Athenian sculptor Myron. Only a small part of its base has been preserved. The stone lining of the surface of the Sacred Road was constructed circa 200 AD.

(Maria-Dimitra Dawson, Afroditi Kamara)



The relative calmness of the early Byzantine time appears to have favoured an intense economic activity on the island. Samos, the urban centre of which remained in the ancient city, was an administrative and financial centre. The existence of many early Christian basilicas on the island documents, apart from the great diffusion of Christianity as early as the 5th century, a relative financial prosperity. During this time rural communities prosper and samian products are exported to distant areas. During the 7th century there are indications that the island was threatened and maybe also raided by the Arabs. In this age various fortified sites such as Lazarus’ Castle, are built, indicating that at least part of the coastal population settled in the hinterlands, apparently for reasons of safety.

The city gradually decays, while the raids of the Arabs force the inhabitants to withdraw in the hinterland on mountainous, naturally fortified, sites. Traces of this withdrawal on the two mountains of Kerkis and Karvounis can be located in various sites bearing the denomination Kastra or Kastrakia, in Lazarus’ Castle, Loulouda’s Castle and other sites.

During the Middle Byzantine period Samos formed the 29th Eparchy of the islands, while in the times of emperor Constantine Porphyrogenitus it was fortified with a new castle. In the 10th century Samos became a base both for the Arabs, for their raids in the Aegean as well as for the Byzantines, for their attacks on Crete. However, the presence of important Byzantine monuments in Samos, combined with the written sources, indicates a great prosperity of the island during the 12th century.

After the conquest of Constantinople by the Crusaders in 1204 and the demolition of the empire, Samos became a possession of the Latin king of Constantinople. In 1225 it was conquered by Ioannes III Vatatzes, emperor of Nice, until 1304, when it was conquered by the Genoese. In 1329 it was re-conquered by the Byzantines until 1346, when it came back to the hands of the Genoese until 1475.



Around 1475, due to the pirate raids and the general insecurity dominating the islands of the Archipelago, many Samians sought refuge in nearby Chios and Asia Minor, while Samos became a part of the Ottoman Empire probably in 1479-1480, without, however, being a full part of the state’s administrative and financial mechanism. The island’s population was so much thinned out, that sources even mention the total desolation of Samos. This “desolation”, which came, amongst the abovementioned reasons, as a result of the spreading of plague, lasted for almost a century. During this time various attempts by the Ottomans to repopulate the island met with no success.

In the middle of the 16th century the Ottoman occupation brought peace and stability, whereas the populations sought better conditions of living. In 1572-73 the sultan, applying his colonization policy in the Aegean, ceded special “privileges” to the new inhabitants of the island and entrusted the colonization to the first admiral (kapudan pasa) of the ottoman fleet Kilic Ali pasa, to whom all tax revenues of the island were offered for life. Colonization secured for the ottoman authorities the control of the sea route of Constantinople-Alexandria, the firm establishment of their dominance in the Aegean, but also the decongestion of intensely populated areas. The terms of colonization secured a form of autonomy inside the Ottoman state, gave the settlers the possibility to seize lands for cultivation, tax exemption for seven years, exemption from the dekati (tithe) tax against 45.000 piasters per annum and more. Some time before the death of Kilic Ali pasa the island became a vakif religious estate (1584-1587), dedicated to a Muslim sanctuary of Constantinople, founded by the admiral.

The favourable terms of colonization attracted Christians from many different parts of the empire, amongst which the descendants of the inhabitants who had abandoned the island in 1475 and moved to Chios. The new population also included the older inhabitants who had survived in the hinterlands of the island, whereas, during periods of turmoil or revolutionary movements, it was strengthened by people from the Peloponnesus and the Ionian Islands. Amongst the settlers there was also Greek speaking Christians of Albanian origin, as well as a few Muslims. In the beginning of the 17th century most of the nowadays villages of Samos were already formed, initially in a distance from the sea and later, after the middle of the 18th century, on the coast too. The population of the 17th century, according to the sources, did not exceed the number of 10.000 people.

Samos Island gravure, designed by Dapper in 1688.

Communal organization of Samos during the ottoman occupation dates back to the 16th century. The first reference for communal organization in an ottoman document dates to 1610.

The administrative and tax system of Samos under the ottoman rule, as we know it from 18th-century sources, can be summarized as follows: the administration was in the hands of the island’s voevod (a dignitary of the Ottoman empire and the leaser of the island’s tax revenues), along with the kadi (judge), the bishop and the four notables elected by the representatives of the villages each year and representing the island’s four counties (Vathy, Chora, Karlovasi, Marathokambos). They were primary entrusted with the collection of taxes. This system lasted until the revolution of 1821, with the exception of two brief periods in 1771-1774, when the island came under the control of the Russians during the Russian-Turkish war and in 1807-1812, when an inside change was attempted by the progressive faction of Karmanioles, who pursued and achieved, though for a short period, changes in administration, taxation and financial management.

The island’s division in four counties, a result of the land’s morphology and the diffusion of the settlements, continued as a formal institution throughout the Hegemony and is still active today via the division of the island into four municipalities.(Transl. Ioannis Nakas)


Karmanioloi and Kallikantzaroi

After the Russo-Turkish wars and the Küçük Kaynarca treaty, favorable conditions for seafaring and trade also prevailed on Samos. Samian merchants-seamen traded olive oil and wine, the main products of Samos, initially at the ports of the Ottoman Empire (Smyrna-Istanbul/Constantinople), then Russia and Egypt, and around the late 18th century Europe – mostly France. Through this trade activity, a dynamic group of few people managed to emerge. Because of its contact with Mediterranean-European ports, it adopted and exploited the meaning of European whirl, the value of the market, traveling and most of all the ideas of the Enlightenment and the French Revolution.

Around the late 18th and the early 19th centuries, zones and settlements developed by the sea, oriented towards trade and the chances the sea had to offer. At one of those settlements, the port of Vathy, settled colonists from the Ionian Islands.

The port of Vathy in Samos Island in the early 19th century. Colored lithograph by Luigi Mayer.


Ship owners and merchants-seamen had common interests with land merchants and a group of farmers suppressed by the proestoi. Therefore, they formed the faction of the “Carmagnoles”: it supported progressive ideas and fought the old proestoi, who expressed the Ottoman legitimacy and were called Kallikantzaroi (Goblins) because of their secret meetings and collaboration with the island’s Turkish administration. The Carmagnoles were probably named after the carmagnole dance the colonists were believed to have brought to the island.

The Carmagnoles’ dynamic in business brought the desire for political power and social recognition. They drew inspiration from current matters and the most advanced democratic ideas, while they dreamt of a society of free prospering people with all social classes being educated. The intense conflict between the Carmagnoles and the Kallikantzaroi in social and political matters went on for many years, ending with the victory of the Carmagnoles, who finally managed to control the power of the prouchontes (the notables) on the island in 1807-1812. Their leader was Georghios Logothetis, the leader of the 1821 Revolution on the island.

All that time, though they kept the established administration system, they gave an actual meaning to the operation of administrative institutions, making the “assembly” of representatives the chief body, which now had an unprecedented political responsibility. At annual assemblies was established the regular checking of annual income and expenditure, the idea of the people governing, social solidarity, restraining the notables, freedom of opinion, justice and mild governing.

The Carmagnoles fell from power in 1812, and their leader was chased. They reappeared leading the 1821 Revolution.

(Transl. Onoufrios Dovletis)



The revolution was declared in Samos on 18th April 1821 by a leading team from the faction of Karmanioles, under the leadership of Logothetis Lykourgos and soon prevailed, due to the island’s mainly orthodox population and the absence of strong Ottoman armed forces.

Lykourgos Logothetis (1772-1850), a leading member of the 1821 revolution in Samos Island

After May 1821 in Samos the “Military-political Organization of the Island of Samos” was applied, a text written by Logothetis Lykourgos. This local organization was largely active until 1834. According to it, the political leader (General Commander) was elected by the General Assembly of the representatives of the villages and gave an account to the former each year. He governed the island along with the Political Judges, whereas in case of warfare, he was recognized as a military commander too. During the revolution the Samians under the leadership of Lykourgos managed to successfully repel three great attacks of the Ottoman fleet, in summer 1821, August 1824 and summer 1826.

The Samian flag of the 1821 Revolution

For two years (1828-1830) a governor appointed by Kapodistrias was established on the island and Samos became part of the prefecture of East Sporades, which included the islands Samos, Kalymnos, Leros, Patmos and Ikaria. Samos was not though included in the New Greek state, according to the protocol of independence (1830), but Samians continued their efforts to be annexed by Greece. The “independent” Samian State was founded in that period under Logothetis Lykourgos, without achieving, though, any international recognition. Nevertheless, the Samians persistency and the policy of the European Powers in the area led to the establishment of the autonomous Hegemony of Samos, a state vassal to the sultan under a yearly tax of 400.000 piasters. This hegemonic administration was violently enforced in May 1834 by a squadron of the Ottoman fleet under Hassan bey. The leaders of the revolution and part of the population were forced to migrate to the Greek state and settled around Chalkis.

(Transl. Ioannis Nakas)



The Principality of Samos was a product of the policy of the Great Powers, France, Great Britain and Russia, in the region of the Ottoman Empire, as well as of the tenacious refusal of the Samians to accept in 1830 that Samos was not included within the limits of the independent Greek state.

Flag and coat of arms of Samos Principality (1834-1912)

With the Protocol of London in 1832, Samos was recognized as an autonomous Principality, subject to the sultan. The solution of autonomy was dictated by the inability of the Ottoman Empire to incorporate Samos and by the intervention of the Powers, aiming at promoting their policy in the Aegean. The violent enforcement of the Principality’s administration in May 1834 resulted in an equally violent expatriation and the sentence to exile of a significant part of the Samian society, especially the leadership of the Revolution of 1821. The Principality regime was accepted by the Ottoman Empire, which also benefited from it, since the Sublime Porte appointed the prince and collected an annual tribute of 400.000 kurus.

The hegemon or prince of Samos was appointed by the sultan, was Christian orthodox and mastered the Greek language. The prince and a four-member government (Parliament), elected by the General Assembly of the proxies, which met one or one and a half months a year, were in charge of the internal administration. The various princes were appointed from among the high officials of the Sublime Porte.

The form of the Principality’s administration was determined by the Organic Regulation (1832) and the Charter (1850) and can be compared with that of the Danubian Principalities on a small scale. Samos could not develop formal relations with other states; however, it had its own flag and enjoyed internal autonomy; the Greek origin, language and religion of its inhabitants were recognized and it was placed under the guarantee and protection of the European Powers.

The Samians contested the regime several times during the period of their autonomy (1834-1912), mainly on the grounds of authoritarian exercise of power by the princes or breach of the Charter. The Samian proxies were empowered to demand the withdrawal of a prince and exercised that right many times. As time went by, a fine balance was established between the non-native bearers of authority, represented by the prince and the sultan’s delegates, and the natives, who expressed themselves through the Parliament and the General Assembly of the proxies. However, it was often impossible to compromise local interests with the dependence on the suzerain power, thus making the conflict inevitable.

The first period of the Principality (1834-1849) was remarkably harsh. During prince Stefanos Vogoridis’ administration of the island, his representatives were more interested in the – often arbitrarily performed – tribute collection than in the organization of the autonomous state. As a result of bad administration, a revolt occurred in 1849, which led to the change of prince and the establishment of the autonomy terms; after the repression of the revolt, a permanent Ottoman guard remained in the capital of the Principality.

The bases of autonomy were recognized after 1851 and were established by the prince’s deputy, Georgios Konemenos, as well as by the ensuing princes Ioannis Gikas and Miltiadis Aristarchis.

Administration services, prefectures, registry offices, notary offices, tribunals and education were organized; schools were established in all the communities of the island, the Pythagorion Secondary School and the Higher Girls School (1855); basic laws were adopted and attempts were made to deal with agricultural, economic and social problems. Towards the middle of the 1850s the strict implementation of the laws and the tackling of banditry and piracy enhanced internal security.

The development of the principality of Samos was marked during the last quarter of the 19th century by the development of agricultural production, trade and industry.

A Samian tobbacco industry’s advertisement in the age of Samos Principality

Together with viniculture, which constituted the inhabitants’ main economic activity, tobacco cultivation and the tobacco and tanning industries developed as well, constituting important sectors of local economy, and, exceeding the borders of the principality, prospered until World War II.

Old tannery in Karlovasi, a town in which tanning flourished from the late 19th century.

At the same time, towards the end of the century, the intellectual development of Samos became also apparent, with the presence of scholars and writers, the publishing of new books and the printing of newspapers, like Samos, Evnomia, Fos, Patris, NeaZoi, Proodos.

In the beginning of the 20th century, although several local actors believed that the regime of Principality would be long-lasting, the Samians seemed to have developed an intense national orientation, stressed, on the one hand, by the rise of Balkan nationalism and the emerging tendency towards a redefinition of borders in the wider region and, on the other, by the active involvement in the political scene of Themistoklis Sofoulis as political leader. This orientation was further assisted by the attempts to infuse Greek capital into the East through the National Bank of Greece and the national activity of the Theological Seminary of the Society of Asia Minor Greeks “I Anatoli”, established in Samos since 1906.

Andreas Kopassis, the penultimate prince of Samos, killed in the 1908 uprising.

The penultimate prince Andreas Kopassis, against whom an armed rebellion occurred in 1908, was murdered by the delegate of the Macedonian Committee Stavros Baretis in 1912, while in September of the same year a rebel movement was launched, led by Sofoulis.

Themistoklis Sofoulis arrives at the port of Vathy, Samos Island, in September 1912.

The national assembly of Samos, which was held immediately after that, declared the union with Greece on November 11, 1912. The symbolic occupation of the island by a Greek fleet division in March 1913 marked the end of the Principality regime. Prior to its incorporation to Greece, Samos was administrated, until 1914, by a Provisional Government, presided by Themistoklis Sofoulis.

The Samians celebrate the proclamation of union with Greece in November 1912.

(Transl. Eirini Papadaki)



The union with Greece fulfilled the Samians’ national aspirations, while, at the same time, the integration to the national centre distanced Samos economically, socially and culturally, from Asia Minor, with which it was closely related for many centuries.

After the annexation by Greece, Samos became a borderline province of the Greek state, orientated towards Athens as a national centre and not towards the centres of the East, Smyrna, Constantinople and Alexandria. During the National Schism period (1917), Samos followed the choices of Eleftherios Venizelos, while after the Greek-Turkish war in Asia Minor and the destruction of Smyrna the island received a great number of refugees from Asia Minor, many of whom remained for ever in its villages and cities, where they settled in “refugee” quarters and strengthened as a working manpower the local industry. During World War II the island was occupied by the Italian forces (Cuneo division), in May 1941. After 1942 an important national resistance movement against the occupation forces was organized, with EAM as its main branch, which resisted strongly against the occupation forces, which made extended anti-guerrilla operations in July-August 1943. Samos was liberated for a short time in September 1943 with the capitulation of the Bandolio government in Italy and was administrated by a Temporary Governmental Committee, presided by metropolitan Eirinaios, only to be again occupied by the German forces after the fierce bombing of 17th November 1943, that resulted in the destruction of the island’s capital and the departure of 1/3 of the whole population for the Middle East.

A German ship bombed by English warplanes in the port of Vathy, Samos Island. Aerial photo of 1944.

After the final liberation and the return of the refugees from the Middle East, the conditions that led to the civil war were created in Samos, a war that was very violent and destructive for the island. Civil war in Samos lasted from 1947 until 1949 and ended with the defeat of the Democratic Army of Samos and the arrest, exile and, in many cases, execution of its fighters.

After the turbulent decade of 1940 the island follows the course of the other insular provinces of the Greek state. The slow reconstruction of the provinces and the post-civil war political and social conditions prevented the development of the island. During the 1950s a great flow of immigrant is directed from Samos towards the great urban centres of the country, mainly though towards foreign lands, Australia, South America, Canada, Africa, New Zealand and also towards European countries, Belgium, Germany, Sweden.

Samian immigrants in the United States, early 20th century.

Migration from Samos continues right until the middle of the 1970s, while towards the end of the same decade the return to homeland starts. Many Samians from the big cities or abroad resettle on the island, which is already becoming a tourist resort. Finally, since the early 1990s, Samos attracts also many economic immigrants, mainly from Albania.

The establishment of an electricity network, which was completed in the 1960s, the inauguration of an airport in 1963, as well as other basic substructures, provided the possibility for a tourist development since approximately the beginning of the same decade. Tourist exploitation of the island led to an uncontrolled building explosion of tourist establishments since the early 1970s, which changed the whole orientation of the financial activities of the inhabitants of Samos. Today the island has an extended number of tourist establishments and services offered.

By the early 1970’s, tourism is one of the main economic activities in Samos Island.


A great influence in the cultural and artistic development of the island during the last quarter of the century has resulted from the cultural societies founded in the 1980s, amateur groups, foundations “N.Dimitriou” and “Zimaleio”, but also the School of Mathematics of the University of the Aegean that operates since the end of the same decade in Karlovasi. Today the island maintains its natural beauty. The severe wounds of the destructive fires of the last twenty years are fortunately healed quite fast, mainly via natural reforestation. Apart from the island’s monuments, the archaeological sites and the museums, monasteries and industrial buildings, the villages of the island, mostly the ones on the mountains, present a great cultural interest. The former have preserved their old settlement organization with the square placed approximately in their middle, the church and the school at the centre or the edges of the settlement, the gardens at the borders of the villages or more remote, according to the morphology of the land, the vineyards, olive groves and forests.

Source: “Samos” in Digital Encyclopaedia of the Hellenic World

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