The Heraion Temple area was built as a sanctuary for a goddess, Hera. It can be found close to the sea in a marsh-filled, boggy area about three miles from the ancient city in today’s Pythagorion area. Here you will see an Ionic temple standing like an obelisk and standing alone since its construction 2,800 years ago.
Archaeologists have studied the ruins and determined that many construction methods were employed in the process. The goddess Hera – whom the temple was built for – was born under a lygos tree, and during Roman times the coinage system used to feature the same lygos tree on the back of many coins in Samos.
The completed temple only stood for about 10 years before it was destroyed, possibly by an earthquake. Today, the site of the temple and the surrounding area is a designated World Heritage Site monitored and protected by UNESCO. The latter stage of the temple’s construction took place around 560 B.C.
The larger part of this temple was built right opposite the altar of Hera, which would have been walled in and protected by a gate. A tour of the area is a very relaxing one and you will be situated close to the sea. There is just one single column standing but the rest of the site is very impressive and there is plenty of ancient history to see.
There are still remains of goddess Hera’s statue, a plinth with a pair of feet mounted on them, an ancient alcove and some stunning views of the hills above river basin area where the Heraion Temple area is situated.
According to the Greek mythology, the Heraion Temple area is where Zeus and Hera spent their honeymoon together, and these ruins can today be found about four miles from the city of Pythagorion (formerly called Samos during the times of ancient Greece). The location is close to the sea and near the River Imbrasos.
Archaeologists have long wondered why the temple was built on a marshy area close to a river, but legend has it that Hera was born under the lygos tree which features heavily around this region. Placing the temple’s foundations on a soggy marsh area is very difficult even for modern builders, so it must have been an extreme challenge for the original builders of this temple.
Despite the popularity of the site, we know rather little about the goddess Hera; we know that legend tells us of her devotion to monogamy, even though her husband and brother Zeus would often court the mere mortals and maids to satisfy his own lust.
I was absolutely stunned by the sheer size of the temple, although one lonely column can only be admired. This must have been an awesome sight from far far away! Quite extraordinary that on a small island they could built a temple so much bigger that what was erected in Acropolis of Athens! That must tell its own language about the importance and wealth of ancient Samos.