On the southeast side of Kerkis mount, in the wild ravine of Kiourka, at an altitude of 350 m above sea level, is the cave of (Panagia=Virgin Mary) Sarantaskaliotissa (=forty steps) or cave of Pythagoras, with an impressive view to the southeast, which reaches the sea.
At the front of the cave is a chapel, dedicated to the Birthday of Virgin Mary, which in addition to name Panagia (=virgin Mary) Sarantaskaliotissa is also known as Panagia Faneromeni (=reveal) and celebrates at September 8 every year.
Inside the cave there is a small tank that is filled with water from the stalactites and then begins a dangerous abyss with a great depth.
ATTENTION: It’s forbidden to enter inside the cave, after the railing, due to danger. The entry requires permission from the Ministry of Culture tel. 0030 23520 43888
The name “Sarantaskaliotissa” (= forty steps), came from the forty steps that are carved in the steep rock, before the entrance of the cave.
These steps were probably created at the beginning of 10th century, by order of that time lord of Samos Theophanes, when Saint Paul of Latros, who ascetic at the area, asked him to go up to the cave of Pythagoras. Later, Saint Paul the Latrinos, together with his followers monks, built the church of Panagia Sarantaskaliotissa.
The nickname “Cave of Pythagoras” came from the Samian philosopher and mathematician Pythagoras (580-495 BC), who, according to tradition, either used the cave as a seminary, or hid in chased of his enemies, which had been revolted by the Milesian philosopher Anaximander (611-547 BC), or he isolated at the cave, unable to reconcile with the regime of the Tyrant Polycrates.
Is Sarantaskaliotissa the cave of Pythagoras?
There is the claim by some and the recording on some maps, which define another as cave of Pythagoras, and is located further north and close to the cave of Sarantaskaliotissa. But if Pythagoras really used one of these two caves, it is undoubtedly Sarantaskaliotissa cave, as evidenced by the the bibliography and folk tradition.
Giannis Giagas, in 1959 in his book “Pythagoras the Samian and Saint Paul the Younger“, after a series of arguments concludes that the cave used by Pythagoras is that of Sarantaskaliotissa, since it basically had water, it was hidden in dense bush of that time, inaccessible due to its steep location, secured and spacious. For whatever reason Pythagoras used the cave (to hide, for contemplation, or as a seminary) Sarantaskaliotissa has a comparative advantage since it served every occasion.
Also, the Archbishop of Samos, Joseph Georgirinis, in the middle of the 17th century, in his book “Description of the current situation of Samos, Ikaria, Patmos and Mount Athos”, records that Pythagoras used as a seminary area, a cave with a chapel called Panagia Faneromeni. It follows that from that time the inhabitants of the area, from whom the Archbishop had the information, believed that the cave that used by Pythagoras it’s Sarantaskaliotissa.
This view is reinforced by a relevant reference in the book “The Church of Samos” by the Metropolitan of Sidirokastro Ioannis. According that, when Saint Paul of Latros was ascetic (about 9th century) in the area of Sarantaskaliotissa, he had an unexpected meeting with the Lord of Samos island Theophanes, who was impressed by Saint Paul, and asked him how he could thank him, and he asked Theophanes to help him climb to Pythagoras cave crossing the steep rock, and so τηε lord Theophanes gave the order and made the forty steps that are carved on the steep rockand. Later, Saint Paul and his followers ascetics monks, built the church of Panagia Faneromeni, or Sarantaskaliotissa as mentioned in the same book.
Why Pythagoras used the cave
The reason that Pythagoras used this cave is not clear.
Epamineondas Stamatiadis in his book “Samiaka” mentions that he took refuge because are persecuted by his enemies, who had been revolted by the Milesian philosopher Anaximander. He also states that he probably left Samos (=the ancient city, today’s Pythagoreion town) voluntarily because he could not reconcile with the regime of Polycrates.
Metropolitan of Sidirokastro Ioannis describes approximately the same in his book “The Church of Samos“.
Archbishop of Samos, Iosif Georgirinis, in his book “Description of the current situation of Samos, Ikaria, Patmos and Athos”, states that he used it as a seminary.
Edward Bren in his book “Pythagoras” wrote that “Immediately after his return, they say, he began to teach again. He teach on a natural plateau, while he and some of his select students lived in caves.” They seem to have used the caves according to their needs, purpose and occasion.
Therefore, it is most likely that the cave of Sarantaskaliotissa was used by Pythagoras as a seminary, as a residence and a place for meditation and not as a hiding place. This is reinforced by the publicity that the event received from ancient times. Because if it had been used only as a hiding place it would have been for a short time and few would have known, the very trustworthy. On the contrary, if it was used as a seminary (school), it would be known to many more, and as a result, it would be remain at the people as a tradition.
From all above it becomes clear that, the tradition for the use of this cave by Pythagoras comes from the depths of the centuries and tends to prove that it is a real historical event. After all, most of the references to the life and work of this great philosopher of Samos are based on tradition.
Edward Bren writes. “We have not received any stories about Pythagoras from eyewitnesses. He did not leave his own writings “. But also the professor of the University of Athens G. Sakelariou, in his book Pythagoras the Teacher of the centuries, writes that “for 100 years after the death of Pythagoras nothing was written about him”.top
The small church (chapel) that exists inside the cave of Sarantaskaliotissa, is dedicated to the Birthday of Virgin Mary, and celebrates on September 8.
It has the nickname “Panagia Sarantaskaliotissa“, from where the cave took its name, but it is also known as “Panagia Faneromeni (=disclosed)”, since according to tradition the Virgin Mary appeared in a miraculous way.
It was probably built at the beginning of the 10th AD. century by Saint Paul of Latros and his following ascetics monks, who practiced in the area at that time.
The interior of the temple is decorated with frescoes, which, however, have been destroyed by time and can not be clearly identified the representations that they depict.top
Giannis Giagas, “Pythagoras the Samian and Saint Paul the Younger”
Joseph Georgirinis “Description of the current situation of Samos, Ikaria, Patmos and Athos”
Metropolitan of Sidirokastro Ioannis “The Church of Samos”
Epamineondas Stamatiadis “Samiaka”
G. Sakelariou, “Pythagoras the Teacher of the centuries”
Edward Brin “Pythagoras”
Evangelos G. Kiloukiotis “The Cave of Sarantaskaliotissa or the cave of Pythagoras”
Ioannis E. Kiloukiotistop
- In the middle of the path to the cave, you will find the church of Agios Ioannis the Theologian.
- Continuing the dirt road southwest for 1.8 km and at the junction west (right) for another 2.7 km, you will meet the path that starts for the monastery of Vangelistra, Profitis Ilias chapel and Vigla (top of Mount Kerkis). Click here for a route.
- If you reach the cave from Marathokampos village (suggest), after visiting the cave continue the dirt road southwest for 1.8 Km, at the junction south (left) for another 1.6 Km, and you will end up at Kampos Marathokampou, for swimming or eating. Click for route.
- If you reach the cave from Kampos Marathokampou, after visiting the cave continue the asphalt road southwest for 5.1 km, and you will end up in Marathokampos village. It is a very beautiful route, while you will have the opportunity to wander in the picturesque village. Click here for a route
ATTENTION : It’s forbidden to enter inside the cave, after the railing, due to danger. The entry requires permission from the Ministry of Culture tel. 0030 23520 43888
Respect the natural environment, do not throw trash.
- From the village of Marathokampos, at the junction (near Pharmacy), follow the uphill concrete road to the Police Station of the village, then follow the sign to “Pythagoras Cave”. After 5.1 km of asphalt road, through a very beautiful route you reach the Parking of the cave of Pythagoras, click here for a route map. From the Parking follow the uphill path for about 400 m., with an altitude difference about 90 m.
- From Kampos Marathokampou (or Votsalakia) at the western side of the area, follow the sign to the Cave of Pythagora. After 3.6 km you reach the Parking of Pythagoras cave. The first 1.6 km is asphalt and then a dirt road. Click here for a route map. From the Parking follow the uphill path for about 400 m., with an altitude difference about 90 m.
- No fires
- Camping is prohibited
- Pick up your trash when you leave