The Eupalinian Aqueduct is sometimes referred to as the Tunnel of Eupalinos, after all, it is a very long tunnel and is today a popular tourist attraction. The Eupalinian Aqueduct is ancient, and it is the history which makes this tunnel so appealing to today’s tourists. Built sometime in the 6th century B.C. by the tyrannical then-leader Polycrates, the tunnel measures an astonishing 3,400 feet in length.
It has been widely compared to the greatest wonders of the world and would undoubtedly deserve a place among them. During the time of its construction the aqueduct was tunnelled from both ends and met in the middle. Surveying and mapping process would have been limited at the time, making this an incredible feat of engineering. There are only two tunnels in the world which were built with two “mouths”, this aqueduct was one of them.
The tunnel was dug through Mount Kastro so that the people of Pythagorion could receive a constant supply of fresh water. The city was once inhabited by the leaders of Samos and served as the island’s capital. Archaeologists have since discovered the tunnel was used for about 1,000 years before lying dormant until its rediscovery in the late 19th century.
The aqueduct is difficult to find as its original engineering plan was to make it hard for enemies of Samos to locate it and cut off the water supply to its inhabitants during times of conflict. The tunnel is one of ancient Greece’s greatest engineering triumphs, even though the two-mouthed bore originally failed to meet in the middle as was planned.
The work on the tunnel took 10 years to complete and chief engineer Eupalinos used prisoners from the island of Lesbos to construct the massive feat. Tickets cost 6 Euros and can be purchased from the museum at Ephorate of Antiquities of Samos, Plateia Dimarhiou, Samos, 83100. Reduced prices for seniors and concessions cost 3 Euros and there are several days in the year when admission is free.
The last weekend of September, known throughout Greece as the European Heritage Days, the museum and tunnel is free to get in. It is also free on the International Monuments Day (April 18) and International Museum Day (May 18). It is also free to enter on all national holidays in Greece.
The tunnel is currently undergoing construction repair and restorations and during this time the tourist attraction will remain closed.
I was in the Eupalinian Aqueduct some years ago, and must say it made my heart jump to get into that shady and cool tunnel and imagine the workers mining their way through the hard mountain. Still feel the awe in the engineering skills visible, it must have been a real challenge getting the two tunnels meet in the middle! What a piece of luck, it was rediscovered and we can enjoy it today.