Friday, 6 October 2017

Early Christian cemetery

There's an early Christian cemetery on the outskirts of Pythagorion (on the Chora road) that was built adjacent to and on top of an archaic Sanctuary of Artemis. As you may know Artemis was goddess of the hunt and I find it interesting the early Christians would choose this site for a cemetery.

Early Christian cemetery
Since the very early Christians were persecuted and even hunted I suppose it's kind of apt a site used to worship the huntress was adapted by their descendants.

Like a lot of ancient sites in Greece information about these remains was sparse to say the least. A lady at the museum in Pythagorio told me the site dated to the 2nd century AD.

Burial Chambers
These are some of the burial chambers.

Burial Chamber

Inside one of the chambers
Some of the stonemasonry and brickwork is in remarkably good condition even if it is hard to determine exactly what was what.

Sadly very little of the ancient Sanctuary of Artemis remains visible. There are a couple of broken columns, but any outline of the buildings are mostly covered in vegetation.

Another Rusty Usky moment

Came across a Rusty Usky object on my morning walk with Tilly today...

I grant you it's a little larger than my usual Rusty Usky objects, but I think it qualifies.

Somehow I can't imagine this old combine ever working again... looking at it it brought the late Adge Cutler to mind.

Thursday, 5 October 2017

Potami Waterfalls, Karlovasi, Samos

There's a mountain behind the beach at Potami and somewhere up on the high ground near the town of Leka you can find a fresh water spring, which feeds the small river that gives life to the Potami Waterfalls.

The walk up the valley to the start of the falls isn't exactly hard, but it certainly isn't suitable for anyone with limited mobility and here's a tip: wear clothing and footwear you're happy to get wet.

The pathway soon gives way to a dirt track and you'll have to negotiate tree roots and boulders as you go.

It's a green and leafy walk, the shade giving pleasant relief on a hot day, especially with the sound of the water making its way downstream.

You'll soon find yourself between steep-sided rocky cliffs and I was reminded of the last time I explored a river valley, the magnificent Almbachklamm in Bavaria; not an obvious comparison.

I was surprised at how small the river was in its lower reaches although bizarrely it becomes wider and deeper as you progress up the valley.

Don't be mislead when you come to the first of the small waterfalls, these are not the attraction!

You need to cross back and forth over the river several times. Wooden bridges are provided, although some of the crossmembers are not secured care must be taken unless you prefer to paddle through the stream.

I was amused by the pile of cut branches, are they there so visitors can make temporary repairs to the bridges?

Keep an eye open too for life in the river. There are plenty of small fish to look at, but also in some of the quieter pools you'll find these:

Fresh water crab
Something else you may notice are visitors who have been to the falls before removing outerwear and stashing bags of kit among the trees for retrieval on their return.

There's no doubting that swimwear and beach-shoes are the outfit of choice since once you reach the steps leading to Taverna Archontissa you'll have to wade up the river.

Rickety Steps
We were told the river water was ice-cold, but in fact I found it pleasingly cool. Also you're told the water is never more than waist deep, but that kind of depends on how tall you are!

Something else to note, the water is opaque and there are some hidden rocks you'll have to negotiate. They are smooth and slippery so watch your step.

I saw one chap miss his footing and take a dunking, I don't think it did his camera much good!

Don't be surprised if you find fish nibbling at any loose skin on your legs, especially if you have any scratches or open cuts.

One of the things to do is take a shower under the first fall. This chap said the water was freezing!

Not everyone agreed. This guy kept asking for the soap.

Sadly this was as far as we could go up the valley. To progress to the next waterfall you have to climb up and over the first one, which I was not prepared to do. There are three more waterfalls above this one and we were told you used to be able to access them by climbing the steps to Taverna Archontissa then taking the footpath down the cliff, but due to a landslip the pathway was now closed.

Tuesday, 3 October 2017

Tunnel of Eupalinos - an ancient feat of engineering magnificence

The Tunnel of Eupalinos is without doubt one of the greatest engineering achievements of ancient times. It is also known as the Eupalinian Aqueduct and is a water tunnel some 1,036 meters (4,000 feet) long, excavated through a mountain on the Greek island of Samos.

The tunnel was dug through solid limestone by two separate teams advancing in a straight line from both ends, using only picks, hammers, and chisels in the 6th century BC. This would have been a prodigious feat of manual labour in any case, but the incredible thing is when the two sets of tunnellers met they were less that 20 centimetres off line! No one knows for certain how they achieved this since no written records exist. We must bear in mind when the tunnel was dug, the Greeks had no magnetic compass, no surveying instruments, no topographic maps, nor even much written mathematics at their disposal. Simply incredible.

Tunnel of Eupalinos
The Tunnel of Eupalinos provided fresh drinking water to the ancient City of Samos, modern Pythagorio until the 7th century AD when it seems to have fallen into disuse.

For more information on this amazing achievement please visit Tunnel of Eupalinos.

Monday, 2 October 2017

Ancient Theatre of Samos

I recently blogged the world's largest Hellenistic theatre, the Grand Theatre of Ephesus, an amazingly huge theatre capable of entertaining 25,000 patrons. The Theatre of Samos, built in the 4th century BC is also ancient and Hellenistic, but it is not on the same scale as Ephesus.

The remains of the Theatre of Samos stand within 150 metres of the Tunnel of Eupalinos and approximately 100 metres below the Monastery of Spilani, which overlooks the modern city of Pythagorio (site of the ancient city of Samos).

Like the Grand Theatre, the Theatre of Samos consisted of an orchestra (performance space where chorus actors danced and sang), the skene (where actors could change their costumes) and a kilon (the amphitheatre space where spectators could sit or stand).

Theatre of Samos
Today very little of the theatre remains, just a stage, the skene and one tier of seats, but with a little imagination one can see the importance of this monument.

Tiered seating
Interestingly the theatre is still being used and musical concerts, Greek drama and other performances are held there. I'm somewhat saddened however to note the pouring of concrete over the kilon and the embedding of supports for wooden bench seating.

The skene with modern stage above
Unfortunately there doesn't appear to be any effort being made to preserve the remains of the ancient structure. As someone with a keen interest in history and archeology I find that somewhat deplorable, especially since the theatre was listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1992.

Pylons supporting the modern stage showing damage to the skene
I do hope steps are taken to preserve what is left of the ancient theatre, it would be such a shame to lose it.

Sunday, 1 October 2017

Thank goodness for memories

It's only been 18 days, but already this seems like half a lifetime ago...

Pythagorio harbour at night
Walking around the harbour at Pythagorio was such a fun thing to do...

A few of the waterside eateries
There are so many interesting places to stop for food and such a variety of cuisines to choose from.

Waterside watering-holes
And of course there are quite a number of bars where you can whet your whistle with anything from water to highly decorative alcoholic cocktails. I quite liked Barfly... they played my kind of music and served excellent freshly squeezed orange juice. ­čśÇ

I enjoyed Samos more than I expected to and sitting here now watching the miserable UK weather through the lounge window I rather wish I was back there!

Saturday, 30 September 2017

Pigeon Island formerly Bird Island

There's a small island in the bay at Ku┼čada┼č─▒ (Turkey) that is now known as Pigeon Island. In fact it isn't an island at all since it is connected to the mainland by a mole now. Back in Byzantine times that wasn't the case and the island was fortified and used as a defence against seaborne attack by pirates, hence the name of the fortification, Pirate Castle.

The island got it's name from the seasonal migration of birds and was known as Ku┼čada┼č─▒, “Bird Island” in Turkish. During Ottoman times the island was given to the town, which then also became known as Ku┼čada┼č─▒ (Bird Island). To avoid confusion the island was renamed Pigeon Island.

Ku┼čada┼č─▒ or Bird Island from which the modern city takes its name
It makes me wonder whether the migrating birds were actually pigeons? If so perhaps the modern city of Ku┼čada┼č─▒ should be renamed Pigeon City, which would be apt given the number of pigeons on the streets of the city!