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Samos, Greece Samos gallery 29 of 55
Panoramic view of Samsun Dagi (Mount Mykale) from Samos island, Greece at My Favourite Planet

The sun rises behind Samsun Daği (Mount Mykale) on the west coast of Turkey, just 1.6 km away from Samos.
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The steep, rugged mountain range Samsun Daği (Samson's Mountain) dominates the view to the southeast of Samos. The range, with its highest point at 1,237 metres above sea level, forms the backbone of the Dilek Yarımadası (Dilek Peninsula). In ancient times both mountain and peninsula were known as Mykale (Greek, Μυκάλη).

Samos is separated from the Dilek Peninsula by the Samos Strait (Στενό Σάμου, Steno Samou) [1], which is only 1.6 km wide at its narrowest point, Cape Koukouras (Άκρα Κούκουρας), 8.5 km east of Pythagorio, as the crow flies.

The strait was the scene of two historical naval battles, the Battle of Mykale in 479 BC, when the Greeks defeated the Persians, and the Battle of Samos in 1824, during the Greek War of Independence (see gallery page 13).

On the Turkish side of the strait, the countryside, coast and beaches between Kuşadası and the Dilek National Park (Dilek Yarımadası Milli Parkı, known locally as Milli Parkı) are famed for being the most beautiful in Ionia.

The islet visible on the left of the photo is known as Bayrak Adasi, which means Flag Island, named so presumably because the Turkish flag flies there permanently. Although part of the Dilek National Park, the tiny island has a lighthouse and a large house. It is only around 700 metres from the Samos coast, making it the closest place in the Aegean between Turkey and Greece.

In 2012 the Turkish government rejected an application to place a GSM telephone mast on the island on the grounds that it would affect the island's ecology. Although this seems laudible, the ecology consists of a few wild plants and seagulls nests.

The sparce remains of Ancient Panionion (see below), the meeting place of the Greek Ionian cities, lie on the lower slopes of the mountain's northwest side, facing Samos. On the other side are the more substantial ruins of the once powerful city of Priene (see below).

In summer (April - October) there are daily ferries from Vathi (Samos town) and Pythagorio to the Turkish seaside resort Kuşadası. See How to get to Kuşadası, Turkey for further details.

A day return to Kuşadası should give you enough time to visit the fascinating remains of the ancient Greek city Ephesus which is 18 km (11 miles) northeast. More ambitious exploration of Turkey's Ionian coast (for example Priene, Miletus and Didyma) will take longer.

If you are travelling from Greece to Turkey you may need to buy a visa. See our introduction to Turkey for further information.
  photos & articles:
© David John
Sunrise on the Samos Strait at My Favourite Planet

Sunrise on the narrow Samos Strait between the southeast coast of Samos
and the Dilek Peninsula, Turkey.

This photo and the one above were taken from Mykale Bay, east of Pythagorio.
On the left the southern slope of Mount Syrachos (Σύρραχος) descends to the sea
at Cape Katsouni (Άκρα Κατσούνι), near the village Psili Ammos (Ψιλή Άμμος),
and just beyond is Cape Koukouras (Άκρα Κούκουρας), the closest point
to the Turkish coast. On the right is Samsun Daği (Mount Mykale).
The Acropolis of Priene, Turkey at My Favourite Planet

The rock of the Priene Acropolis on the other side of Mount Mykale.
In the foreground are the ruins of the temple of Athena Polias,
dedicated by Alexander the Great in 334 BC.

The ancient city of Priene, like Samos, was one of the twelve cities of the Ionian League.
Its impressive remains can be visited today on the lower slopes of the northeast side
of Mount Mykale. Priene's 381 metre high acropolis sits on top of the huge rock, part of
the mountain range, which towers above the city.
The ancient Greek theatre at Güzelcamli, Turkey at My Favourite Planet

The remains of the ancient theatre at Güzelçamlı, on the west side of Samsun Daği (Mount Mykale).

This site on Otomatik Tepe (Machine Gun Hill), just outside the seaside village of Güzelçamlı, at the foot of Mount Mykale opposite Samos, is thought to be ancient Panionion (Πανιώνιον). The sanctuary of Poseidon Helikonios, controlled by Priene, was the meeting place of the cities of the Ionian League [2] and the location of the Panionia religious festival and games (πανήγυρις, panegyris, gathering, assembly).

Until 1920s Güzelçamlı was a Greek village known as Giaur-Changlee (also referred to as Changli or Tshangli). An ancient inscription referring to Panionion was seen on the wall of the Church of the Panagia (Virgin Mary) here by the European travellers Jacob Spon and George Wheler in 1673 [3]. Wheler presumed that the ancient name of the place was Panionion and subsequent scholarly visitors to the area agreed with this theory.

The site was rediscovered in 1898 by the German archaeologist Theodor Wiegand (1864-1936), who also worked at the Heraion on Samos (1910-1911). He undertook the first archaeological excavations here in 1904.

Today there is not much to see of this sanctuary apart from the remains of a small theatre and a few barely identifiable piles of stone overgrown by wild vegetation.

In 2004 the German archaeologist Hans Lohmann discovered another site further up the mountain, on Çatallar Tepe, 750 meters above sea level, around 5 km east of Güzelçamlı. It is believed that this was the site of the first Panionion which may have been destroyed in the mid 6th century BC, perhaps by Persian general Harpagus. The Panionion may have been rebuilt at Güzelçamlı during the Classical period. [4]

See also Ionian Spring part 1 at The Cheshire Cat Blog.
Samos Notes, references and links

1. The Samos Strait

As with many names in Greece, especially those of geographical locations, there are several variations:

• Samos Strait or Strait of Samos (Στενό Σάμου, Steno Samoy);

• Strait of Mykale (also Mykali or Mycale) or Mykale Strait (Στενό της Μυκάλης);

• It is also known locally as the Eptastadio Channel (Επτασταδιο Πορθμό, multi-leveled channel).

In Turkish Mount Mykale is known as Samsun Daği (Samson's Mountain) and Dilek Daği (Wish Mountain), and the Mykale Peninsula as Dilek Yarimadisi. The strait is variously referred to as Dilek Boğazı (Dilek Strait, literally Strait of Wishes), Sisam Boğazı (Samos Strait) and Dar Boğaz (or Darboğaz).

2. The Ionian League

The Ionian League (Ἴωνες, Íōnes; κοινὸν Ἰώνων, koinon Ionon; or κοινὴ σύνοδος Ἰώνων, koine synodos Ionon), also known as the Panionic League, was a confederation twelve Ionian cities, founded in the mid 7th century BC.

The original twelve member cities were: Chios, Clazomenae, Colophon, Ephesus, Erythrae, Lebedus, Miletus, Myus, Phocaea, Priene, Samos and Teos.

Smyrna, originally an Aeolic city, joined the league after 650 BC.

According to Herodotus, the various regions of Ionia had different dialects:

"They do not all have the same speech but four different dialects. Miletus lies farthest south among them, and next to it come Myus and Priene; these are settlements in Caria, and they have a common language; Ephesus, Colophon, Lebedos, Teos, Clazomenae, Phocaea, all of them in Lydia, have a language in common which is wholly different from the speech of the three former cities. There are yet three Ionian cities, two of them situated on the islands of Samos and Chios, and one, Erythrae, on the mainland; the Chians and Erythraeans speak alike, but the Samians have a language which is their own and no one else's. It is thus seen that there are four modes of speech."

Herodotus, Histories, Book 1, chapter 142, sections 3-4. At Perseus Tufts.

3. George Wheler on Panionion

George Wheler (1650–1723), Journey Into Greece, Book III, page 268. Cademan, London, 1682.

4. Hans Lohmann on Panionion

Hans Lohmann, Survey of Mykale (Dilek Dağlari), 3rd campaign: Discovery of the Archaic Panionion (PDF document)


Wo der Stier brüllte: RUB-Archäologen entdecken das Panionion. Sensationeller Fund des antiken Heiligtums im Mykale-Gebirge. Ruhr-Universität Bochum press release Nr. 306, 20.10.2004. In German.
Photos, maps and articles: © David John 2003 - 2016.

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Some of the information and photos in this guide to Samos
originally appeared in 2003-2004 on

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See also
The Cheshire Cat Blog
photo essays and articles
about Greece:

Athens 1

Athens 2






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