In the Southeastern part of Samos, at the community periphery of Paleokastro village, is a small (150 acres), but special environmental importance, wetland of Alyki (= saltworks, Αλυκή in Greek), with rich and rare biodiversity, unusual for the Aegean islands.
From antiquity (probably) and until 1965, the wetland basin was used as a saltworks area for salt production. After saltworks abandonment, nature immediate showed signs of regeneration, and was turn saltworks area into a rich wetland.
During winter months (~November ~April), the clay soil of the basin substrate, retains the water and creating a shallow lake, with surface 150 acres and maximum depth about 70 cm. During this period it hosts a large population of migratory birds, and other endemic animals, thus enriching the biodiversity of the wider habitat.
During summer months (~May ~October), the water evaporates, the lake dries up, and the biodiversity of the habitat is degraded, eagerly awaiting its new life cycle.
The large population and the variety of migratory birds, owe significantly to the geographical location of Alyki, which located between two important wetlands on the coasts of Asia Minor. Southeast the estuary of Meander river, at distance 23 km and north the estuary of Cayster River, at a distance of 35 km.
At Alyki wetland, more than 150 species of protected birds find safe haven, such as greater flamingo, common kingfisher, black-winged stilt, northern shoveler, mallard, Eurasian wigeon, Eurasian sparrowhawk, long-legged buzzard, short-toed snake eagle, common shelduck, western marsh harrier, Alpine swift, western yellow wagtail, Eurasian bittern, black-tailed godwit, etc.There are also rare flora, such as Iris orientalis, bumblebee orchid, sea daffodil, thymus samius etc. and rare fauna such as golden jackal, Mediterranean chameleon, martens, Stellagama, Platyceps najadum, Greek tortoise, Montivipera xanthina, European Cat Snake, grass snake, Leopard Snake etc.
Included at the network of NATURA 2000 protected areas, with code GR4120001 since 1995 and with code GR4120007 since 2001 . Addition, it has been recognized as a habitat at the list of the Hellenic Center for Habitats & Wetlands (EKBY), with code AB5080119, while by Presidential Decree included in a zone of housing control and building restriction.top
History of Alyki (Saltworks)
The use of Alyki for salt production, dates back to at least, 16th AD. century, may have been used in antiquity. However, production stopped, probably at the end of the 18th AD. century.
In 1859 at General Assembly of the Hegemonic Samian Parliament, a proposal submitted for reuse of the “ancient Alyki (=saltworks)”, in order to cover the salt needs of the island, and addition to be an income for the general fund of Samos. The proposal was accepted unanimously and in 1863 a six-year contract was signed between the Samian Parliament and M. Kapsalis, who rented Alyki.
The production and sale of the product was strictly controlled. The sale of salt was allowed, only in the island. For sales of large quantities, permission was required from the Samian Parliament and for the smaller oeders, permission of the relevant mayor.
Despite the strict control, there was a large smuggling of salt to Asia Minor, and so in 1895 the Samian Parliament, in order to control it, signed a five-year renewed contract for Alyki lease to the “Directorate of Public Ottoman Debt” (at Ottoman government) with 150,000 groschen per year (salary of a teacher annual approximately 2,000 groschen). There was a contract condition that obliged the company to hire employees and workers from Samos island, while technicians and inspectors could be also from other places.
During the transitional period of Samos union with Greece (1912), the provisional Government of the island, in 1913, occupied Alyki and froze the production of salt, because of due rents delay, by “Directorate of Public Ottoman Debt”.
In the following years, with the union completion, of Samos with Greece, Alyki became a part of the public property of the Greek state and its status was regulated according to its laws.
On March 7, 1915, by royal decree, it’s stipulated that the transport, management and sale of Alyki’s salt in Samos, can be assigned to contractors, while at the same time decree included Aliky saltworks in the Greek salt monopoly, as all the other saltworks of Greece. The receipts of the salt monopoly, together with the athers Greek monopolies of petrol, gambling, cigarette paper and Naxos emery, were intended for the repayment of the so-called “monopoly loan” that the Greek State had concluded with “Comptoir d’Escompte de Paris” in 1887 for 75 years. The loan agreement allowed the lenders to set up a public limited company which was in charge of managing the monopolies that had been granted as collateral for the loan.
In 1916, an auction was announced, which was won by Dimitrios Hatzivassiliou, who bid with 19 drachmas per thousand oka (= 1,283 kg) of salt, according to an article of AEGEAN newspaper No 319 / 21-3-1916.
The average annual salt production of Alyki, during the years 1919 – 1931, was 1,900 tons, 2.6% of produced salt in Greece, with the lower in 1919, with 1,003 tons, and higher in 1929, with 2,042 tons produced salt.
The operation of Alyki stopped in 1965, after conclusion that the salt production was economically unprofitable, and in 1982 it closed permanently, with the abolition of the last job of the guard. Since then, nature has undertaken the regeneration of Alyki, offering us a rich wetland, rare for the Aegean islands.top
Magazine: “Apoplous”, issue 10-11,1993
N. Lambropoulou & Ch. Kourteli “The saltworks of Greece as units of salt production” 1995
Patuna Dionysia “The evolution of public borrowing in Greece” 2011
Ioannis E. Kiloukiotistop
- Wander around the wetland and enjoy the birds and the sounds of nature.
- The best time to visit the wetland is during the winter months (~ November λιο April), with the wetland basin full of water and the arrival of migratory birds.
- In front of the wetland, extends the beach of Mykali and at a distance of 1 km the beach of Psili Ammos.
When observing the habitat, be discreet, calm and in small groups of people. Do not make noises because the animals are worried.
Respect the natural environment, do not throw trash.
- From Samos town, 10 Κm root
- From Karlovasi town 37 Κm root
- From Pythagoreion 9 Km root
- From Kampos Marathokampou 45 Km root
- No fires
- Camping is prohibited
- Pick up your trash when you leave