Town altitude 26 m
Town land area 2 km2
Region averege altitude 43 m, lowland
Region land area 21 km2
Population 2011: 6.798, 2001: 5.895, 1928: 8.636 inhabitants.
Area per person 167 m² per person.
Economy relies mainly on trade, agriculture (viticulture), tourism and services
Karlovasi town (Greek: Καρλόβασι) is located at the northwestern part of the island, built at the homonymous plain. It is the second-largest in population city of the island and the commercial center of western Samos. It has a major port, serving the western part of the island. Karlovasi is the largest in size and most sparsely populated area of Samos. The distances are: from Samos town 32 km, from Pythagorio village 36 Km and from Marathokampos village 13 Km. Administratively it’s the center of “Karlovasi unity community”.top
It was first inhabited in the beginning of the 17th century with its first inhabitants being Samians that had migrated to Chios island to avoid pirate raids and then returned back. Afterwards Peloponnesians, Cretans, Icarians, Naxians and others followed.
First was built Paleo (=old) Karlovasi, well hidden in woody area and then followed the other villages, Meseo (medium) Neo (New), Ormos (bay) or Riva and last was Limani (harbor) where building began at 8th of September 1871. All were build on hills and far from the sea out of fear for the pirates.top
Economic history & tanning
Karlovassi, from the first years of its creation, developed its economy, based on agriculture, mainly viticulture, exploiting the great plain around the city, which exceeds 6 km2. It soon expanded considerably into trade, which made Karlovasi the richest city of the island, as reported in his book by the traveler author Joseph Georgeirinis 1678.
With the emergence of phylloxera, at 1892 in Samos and the destruction of vines, the economy turned to tanning and to the cultivation, processing and marketing of tobacco. There were 20 steam powered factories operating, employing about 800 workers. Back then there were many tanneries operating in Karlovasi. These were diminished during the Second World War and the following civil war. Their ruins along the coast show their size and the wealth that they have brought to the city. This industry was flourishing in Karlovasi not because there were plenty of hides but because there were plenty of pine barks as well as oaks that were used for the production of tannic acid, used for the processing of the hides. After the discovery of chemical ways for the production of tannic acid the industry has destroyed.
Tanneries, and the tobacco industry, boosted the economic but also the cultural level of the city, at the middle 19th till middl 20th century. Irrefutable evidence of this economic growth, is the amazing neoclassical houses (mainly at ormos Karlovasou), the imposing churches, the construction of the Port (they were third in Greece at ship traffic) and the bridge that joining “Neo” and “Meseo Karlovasi”, the Municipal Pharmacy, τhe construction of the sewerage system, creation of the horse-drawn tram at 1905, the first typography of the island at 1828, the municipal park, “Porfyriada” school, “Chatzigiannio” Girls School, Trade School, university of economics and more …
One opinion for the origin of the name is that it derives from the Turkish words Karli-Ovasi that means “snowy valley” but since it almost never snows in Karlovasi this opinion does not have many supporters. Author Zafeiriou (in his book Samian Chronicles) supports the idea that it was initially named “Kariova” meaning “Ikarian Colony” and this later evolved to Karlovasi and Nikos Dimitriou in his book Samian Folklore supports the idea that it derives from the surname “Karlovas” which is probably the correct interpretation.
During old days it was mentioned as Karlovasia (plural of Karlovasi) because it was comprised out of three communities, “Neo Karlovasi” (=New Karlovasi), “Meseo Karlovasi” (=Middle Karlovasi) and Paleo Karlovasi (= old Karlovasi). They were all independent villages and built on the hills that are surrounding the valley. During the 1950’s they were united along and thus comprised the Municipality of Karlovasi. In nowadays all three villages have expanded so much so they are united to one. It’s the largest in size and most sparsely populated area of Samos.top
Three settlements belong to Karlovasi town, Potami settlement at the seaside, 5 Km west from Karlovasi with 19 inhabitants, Sakouleika settlement, 6 Km south fromKarlovasis with 16 inhabitants, and Sourides settlement, 5 Km west from Karlovasi with 23 inhabitants.top
- Operating since 1895 at Karlovassi is the Philharmonic Society of Karlovasi, called “Cleanthes of Samos”, which brighten with its music all the religious or national celebrations, etc.
- Karlovasi is the headquarters of the Mathematical school of the Aegean University.
- Karlovassi was the birthplace of the pioneer and leader of the Samian revolution (against the Othomans) at 1821 Lykourgos Logothetis, the bard poet of freedom and Samian anthem Georgios Cleanthes, the great composer Manolis Kalomiris and other prominent men.
- Walk through the picturesque streets with beautiful houses.
- Visit the museums of the city
- Visit the great churches of the city.
- Visit the area “tampakika” with the old tanneries and tanning museum