Herodotus (485-421/415 B.C.): ?I have dwelt the longer on the affairs of the Samians, because three of the greatest works in all Greece were made by them. On the hills of a mountain, approximately 150 fathoms in height, they dug a passage open at both ends. The length of the passage is 7 stadia and the height and breadth each 8 feet. A second passage has been dug throughout the first one, 20 cubits in depth and 3 feet in breadth through which the water, from an abundant spring, is conducted and comes to the city by pipes. The engineer was Eupalinos, the son of Naustrophos from the city of Megara?.
The great spring Herodotus mentions is in the area of Ayiades. There, the water was collected in a covered with stone slabs reservoir. Nowadays, above the reservoir the small church of Ay-Yiannis is situated. From there, the water was conducted to the northern entrance of the tunnel through an underground clay pipe, 890 m long and the water was transferred from the reservoir, which supplied 400 m3 per day.
The central section of the aqueduct, the tunnel is 1036 m. long and its average dimensions are 1,80 x 1,80 m. The depth from the summit of the mountain is 180 m. and it is situated 55 m. above sea level. It consists of a corridor and a trench alongside (its depth varies from 3,80 m. in the northern end to 8,90 m. in the southern end). It also has a 0,6% deviation so as to facilitate the natural flow of the water. Along the modern road, the ancient pipeline that led to the fountains of the town has been found.
The amazing achievement about the tunnel?s construction is that it was dug by two crews of stonemasons, working simultaneously, one in the North and one in the South. They eventually met in the middle of the mountain with only a small deviation from the straight line. It took about 8-10 years to complete the tunnel as the workers only used chisels and hammers. For light they used oil lamps which made the conditions even worse. Eupalinos designed and achieved the construction of the tunnel using simple devices for measurements and the well known principles of geometry. Apart from the names of the workers, in the walls there are words, letters and simple marks as proof of these measurements.
Based on the archaeological findings, we can say, first, that the construction began at about 550 B.C. and, second, that the aqueduct was in use for about 1.100 years. Gradually and despite all the cleaning efforts, the clay pipes were downed due to the large amount of calcium in the water and the aqueduct was abandoned.
A new aqueduct was constructed during the Roman Era bringing to the town water from the spring of Zastano, north of the modern village Miloi. In the 7th century the aqueduct was used as a refuge site for the people of the island in order to protect themselves from the Persians (627 A.D.) and the Arabs (666 A.D.).
The aqueduct was rediscovered in 1853 and in 1882 the cleaning process began. Since then many researchers and archaeologists study this aqueduct as one of the most important engineering projects of ancient Greece. Along with the city of Ancient Samos, Eupalineion has been designated as a monument of the World Cultural Heritage and it is protected by UNESCO (1992). Recently it was also declared as an ?International Tunneling Landmark? by the International Tunneling Association.
Visiting the Tunnel of Eupalinos
Undoubtedly the Eupalinos Tunnel, the central part of the ancient aqueduct, is an admirable achievement of engineering worth seeing, however visitors should bear in mind that:
The tunnel is 1036 m. long. The average dimensions are 1,80 m high and 1,80 m wide, but in some parts the height is as low as 1,50 m. and the width is as narrow as 0,42 m.
The rocky, uneven floor is wet and slippery in some areas and from the ceiling is dripping water in some parts. The temperature is 16,5 ? 16,7°C (degrees Celsius) and the humidity is 85 ? 97%.
Therefore overweight people, visitors suffering from claustrophobia, panic attacks, lumbago, cardiac or respiratory problems, spinal diseases, musculoskeletal disorders causing moving difficulties are strongly advised not to enter.
Visitors who, after the above, decide to visit the Tunnel, they will do so on their own responsibility. In case of an accident the Greek State will bear no responsibility.
Visitors must not carry big bags; they should leave them at the entrance of the tunnel. Visitors doing the Itinerary 3 cannot carry any bags at all.
All visitors must wear protective helmets (provided) and closed flat, non slippery shoes. They should be in the entrance 00:10´ earlier to wear their protective helmet.
For the present children less than 14 years old are not allowed inside the Tunnel. Young people between 14-18 years of age should be accompanied by a responsible adult.
Guides must talk about the history of the Aqueduct outside the Tunnel. Inside the Tunnel they can only point out areas of interest.
Photography with a hand-held, non professional camera is allowed free of charge but the use of flash is forbidden. Professional photography or video are not allowed without a special permission issued by the Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Sports.
Ôhe South Entrance to the Tunnel is about 2 klm from Pythagoreion and is accessible by car, or on foot. The North Entrance to the Tunnel is in the rural area of Agiades, it is not accessible by car and visitors will have to walk on a dirt road for about 00:20?. Make sure you get directions in advance. For information tel. +0030 22730 62 813
there are 3 ways to visit the Tunnel:
Itinerary 1. Length 185 m., maximum number of visitors 20, duration 00:20´ including return. In this part one can see all the construction details. Difficulties: a narrow stairway with steep, tall steps and a low and very narrow corridor 17 m. long, 1,55 m. high, 0,55 m. wide. Fairly easy after the corridor.
Visiting hours: 08:40´, 09:00´, 09:40´, 10:00´, 10:40, 11:00´, 11:40´, 12:00´, 12:40´, 13:00´, 13:40´, 14:00´, 14:40´
Itinerary 2. Length 424 m., maximum number of visitors 15, duration 00:40´ including return. Visitors should book in advance date and time by phone: +0030 22730 62813. One can see a cistern of byzantine period and the meeting point of the two working groups.
Difficulties: All the above mentioned and rocky, uneven floor, wet and slippery in some areas, and water dripping from the ceiling in some parts.
Visiting hours: 08:30´, 09:20´, 10:20´, 11:20´, 12:20´, 13:20´, 14:20´
Itinerary 3. Length 1036 m., maximum number of visitors 10, duration one hour, one way. Visitors should book in advance date and time by phone: +0030 22730 62813. One can see the whole tunnel and visit the spring and the cistern in Agiades.
Difficulties: All the above and fatigue. Especially difficult is the passage through the north low, narrow corridor 197 meters long, 0,42 ? 0,60 m. wide. There are neither facilities, nor public transport from the north exit to the city. One has either to have prearranged for a car to wait for him, or to walk for about 00:45´ minutes through a dirt path in order to reach the city of Pythagoreion.
Visiting hours: At 08:30´ from the South Entrance, 09:20´ from the North Entrance, 10:20´ from the South Entrance, 11:20´ from the North Entrance, 12:20´ from the South Entrance, 13:20´ from the North Entrance.