It's hard to fully grasp the former magnificence of this ancient sanctuary of the goddess Hera, 4km west of Pythagorio, from these scattered ruins. The ‘Sacred Way’, once flanked by thousands of marble statues, led from the city to this World Heritage–listed site, built at Hera's legendary birthplace. However, enough survives to provide a glimpse of a sanctuary that was four times larger than the Parthenon.

Built in the 6th century BC, the Heraion was constructed over an earlier Mycenaean temple. Plundering and earthquakes have left only one column standing, though extensive foundations remain. Other remains include a stoa (long colonnaded building), a 5th-century Christian basilica, and the headless, and unsettling, statues of a family, the Geneleos Group. Archaeologists continue to unearth treasures.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Samos attractions

1. Pythagorio Town Beach

2.81 MILES

A short (less than 1km) walk west of Pythagorio brings you to this pristine beach with umbrellas and toilets. There’s decent swimming, but pack your own…

2. Evpalinos Tunnel

2.84 MILES

In a word: extraordinary. In 524 BC, when Pythagorio (then called Samos) was the island’s capital and a bustling metropolis of 80,000, securing sources…

3. Castle of Lykourgos Logothetis

3.11 MILES

Samians took the lead locally in the 1821 War of Independence, and this castle, built in 1824 by resistance leader Logothetis, is the major relic of that…

4. Moni Panagias Spilianis

3.19 MILES

About 1.5km northwest of Pythagorio, the road forks right, past traces of an ancient theatre, before reaching this grotto monastery. The walk meanders up…

5. Archaeological Museum of Pythagorio

3.21 MILES

One of the best museums on the islands. The exhibits in this smart space include beautifully displayed finds from Pythagorio, plus striking pottery pieces…

6. Museum of Samos Wines

6.87 MILES

Look for this handsome stone building opposite the new ferry quay to find one of Samos' best vintners. Winery tours usually take place when you show up,…

7. Church of Agios Spyridonas

7.55 MILES

Built in 1909, this ornate church features icons, impressive pillars hewn of marble from İzmir and, unusually, a silver candelabra from India. Decorative…

8. Archaeological Museum

7.56 MILES

Housed in two adjacent buildings, this handsome complex displays the contents of the Heraion (Sanctuary of Hera) near Pythagorio (from Polycrates' rule in…