Olympic Holidays

The pyrgos towers of Samos

Fortified towers of Samos protected the island from pirates and Ottomans

Once littered with fortified towers, the island of Samos now has only a couple that are worth a visit. Fortunately both are located near the main holiday resort of Pythagorion which also has the main island airport and the biggest ferry port on Samos. The best is the triple-storey Sarakinis Tower with some impressive battlements, the only one left of a quartet of towers that once stood in the area. But the tower of Lykourgos, located on a hill near the Castle of Pythagorion, is also worth a visit for its interesting museum.

Tower of Sarakinis

Located near the seaside resort of Iraeon, about eight kilometres from Pythagorion, the Tower of Sarakinis, is a fortress-like triple-floored building topped by some imposing battlements. Thought to have been built in the late 1500's as a defence against pirate raids it has very thick walls and an impressive vaulted ceiling on the ground floor.

Nikolaos Sarakinis was thought to have been captain of the Turkish flagship of the admiral Kilitz Ali Pasha. Kilitz was of French descent, a former pirate who converted to Islam and lent his services to the Sultan before retiring to live on Samos in some wealth.

At the time, Samos had become heavily depopulated, devastated by repeated pirate attacks that has resulted in much of the population fleeing to neighbouring islands. In return the admiral gave Sarakinis large swathes of land in the Iraeon region, where Sarakinis built his tower and persuaded many Greeks to return.

The fortress-like appearance is characterised by the lacks of doors or windows, extensive roof ramparts with the original entrance through a door on the first floor approached by an outside stairway with a drawbridge that could be raised up.

The shape of the ramparts certainly shows a Venetian influence and the tower is considered the oldest of its type on Samos and certainly one of the oldest and best preserved on the island.

Tower of Lykourgos

This pyrgos tower was built in 1824 by Lykourgos Logothetis, the leader of the Samians during the National Revolution against occupation by the Ottomans. It's main purpose was to protect the Greek rebels against reprisals by the Turks as they fought for independence against foreign rule.

At this time a large part of the island of Samos was owned by the Orthodox Christian Church and the number of convents and monasteries on the island was considerable.

The construction of the tower Logothetis provided a strong defensive fort that could protect the population and Greek fighters from Ottoman attacks.

Today the towers is home to an impressive museum, opened in 2010, with permanent exhibitions of archaeological finds from excavations carried out at the Castle of Pythagorion as from several Byzantine sites on the island.

There are exhibits of pottery, coins and lead seals as well as photographs, drawings, maps and engravings. There are also fine displays of daily life during the Byzantine period alongside the history of the Castle.