Museums tell us how to view the history. They’ve the real tales which you can’t find in the books or hear from the great story-tellers. Naturally, Samos also has museums and they are incomparable. The exceptional history which they hold connects you with the era of gods and goddesses. One finds himself among those beliefs and traditions that are thousands of years old. Walking through the halls of the Samian museums is like walking in the living history. It’s an unforgettable experience, and it is not been offered only for you, but also for the future generations.
Samos is the home of several world-class museums which lead you to the marvels of its past. If you’re interested in history, and planning to visit Samos, here is my list of top 4 museums that will transcend your expectations.
1 – Archaeological Museum
The Samos Archaeological Museum is located near the port of Vathy. If you’re residing near the Town Hall or at the Central Park of the capital, it would be closest to you, and would be just a few minutes’ walk away. It’s housed in two separated buildings – The Old Building and The Modern Building. The Old Building, erected in 1912, is also known as the Paschaleios Archaiofilakio (which in Greek means storehouse of ancient objects). You can actually see a piece of history just by looking at the old building. Thanks to the financial means provided by car manufacturer Volkswagen, in 1987 the Modern Building was built and today it houses the vast collection of Archaic Sculptures.
This museum holds numerous breathtaking collections. For instance, you can find Archaic Sculptures, Potteries, Bronzes, Ivory Objects, Wooden Items, Clay Figurines, and various small objects too. However, the thing that makes this museum exceptional is the Colossal Kouros; an iconic feature that represents the first quarter of 6th century BC. One can also encounter a stunning marble statue of draped female figure that lures everyone. Both exhibits attract the attention and cameras of practically every single visitor. People love to talk about them and ask numerous questions regarding their history as well. Furthermore, the museum boasts its Geneleos Group, Marble Funerary, Bronze Statuette of a Horseman, and Wooden Figurine of a Nude Woman.
2 – Byzantine Museum
Want to learn about the Byzantine art and history? Then it’s time to visit the Byzantine Museum in Samos. It’s one of those rare museums in the world that have kept the Byzantine history alive. It’s situated on the eastern side of the island, in Samos town and consists of two halls. This museum includes late-Byzantine icons, ossuaries, chalices, vestments, Patriarchal holy vessels, lead seals, and many other old and impressive artifacts.
The museum is naturally packed with hundreds of interesting things regarding Byzantine era, but a few things always manage to capture the most attention. Among those are, for example, The Holy Mantle of Constantinople’s Patriarch Gregory V, The Holy Icon by the artist Theodoros Poulakou from the second half of the 16th century, uniquely crafted Holy Grails, and Writings of the 11th century AD.
3 – Paleontological Museum
If you’re in Samos, you have the opportunity to see its Paleontological Museum, which offers miracles of fascination natural history. It’s situated in the village of Mitilinioi (12 km from Samos town), and was first established in 1965. Since then, it has been expanded with the financial support of Zimalis institution and the European program ‘Leader’. Believe it or not, the Paleontological Museum of Samos attracts 30,000 visitors per year, which serves as a proof of its true value being recognized. Most of the fossils in this museum tell the tale and history of animals that lived on this island 8-10 million years ago in the era of Miocene.
Most of the fossils in this museum were found in 1912. Unfortunately, some fossils have been smuggled abroad and are currently exhibited at many museums in Europe and the United States. Before you visit this museum, it’s imperative to mention that it has four other sections as well, which are Zoological Section, Rocks and Minerals Department, Marine Life Department, and Botanological Department, which also manage to shed light on the extraordinary history of Samos. Unlike other museums of Samos, this museum has its own opening days and hours. The Paleontological Museum is open from May 15th to October 15th, Tuesdays to Sundays, 09:00-14:00. On Mondays, it is closed, and during the rest of the year, it’s open only for groups by special arrangements for research and study purposes.
4 – Pythagorion Museum
Perhaps, no museum in the Samos has the quality and size which this museum in Pythagorion possesses. Without a doubt, it boasts with its superior noteworthy collections. According to a recent survey, it has more than 3,000 collections, which include marble items, coins, parts of buildings and temples, ceramic vases, jewelry, and other items that reveal the cultural development of Samos. Besides that, it also contains many items from different eras. For example, you can find the rooms of 6th century BC and Roman collections too, which are immensely popular.
If you have interest in history, you can’t ignore Pythagorion Museum. Although it’s a tad smaller than other museums of the island, the quality of it is supreme and transcends the expectations. In the past, this museum was located in the Town Hall of Pythagorion, but a new building was inaugurated in May 2010. It’s in the city centre of Pythagorion, next to the site of the ancient town. One of the best things about this museum is that there are numerous hotels, restaurants, and places of accommodation around it, making the your visit more special and pleasant. One can well state, that the Pythagorion Museum is perfectly positioned in the middle of the culture of Samos.
Luckily, you don’t have to challenge your pockets before visiting the exceptional museums of Samos, since the tickets are quite economical and even students get a special price for entry. Besides, the opening hours of all museums are from 10 AM to 2 PM. If you’re visiting Samos only for exploring its fascinating history whilst doing study and research, it’s better to contact the authorities of these museums, as they can do special arrangement for you, or at least inform you regarding their months of research and timings… So, visit these Samos museums at your first possibility; they’ll thrill your history-loving soul.
I was surprised with how many museums this small island actually has. I did expect to find one, concentrated to the findings from the excavations in today’s Pythagorion and the ancient Heraion site, but also the Byzantine Museum provided plenty to see. In Samos one can easily combine learning with sunbathing, as distances are small and lovely beaches plentiful, scattered around the island. The local history is definitely worth exploring in terms of artifacts, not just the ruins.