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Find out why the famous mathematician and philosopher Pythagoras was forced to hold classes in mountain caves in Samos.

More than 2,000 years ago a mathematician worked out a theorem that is still in use today. You may have learned Pythagoras’s theorem about right-angled triangles when you were at school. But this isn’t a maths lesson, so here’s another kind of question:

How do you get to the caves where the philosopher Pythagoras taught geometry and other things when he was on the run in Samos?

The answer is you walk up part of Mount Kerkis on a lovely path from Votsalakia (or drive part of the way from Marathocampos if you have a 4x4 vehicle).  There’s a taverna before the start of the really stiff bit of the walk – lots of steps and some narrow cliff-edge paths.

Pythagoras Cave

There are two small chapels and two caves to explore, one much higher up the mountain than the other. In one there is a spring which it is claimed Pythagoras used as his water supply in about 550BC. Climbing all the way may not be for the unhealthy or faint-hearted, but the panoramic views make the effort worthwhile.

It is believed that Pythagoras went into exile in the caves because his teachings were upsetting the man who ruled the island, a tyrant called Polycrates. The philosopher ended up leaving the island.

Mount Kerkis, the second highest mountain in the Aegean, has some lovely trekking trails which take hikers to rivers, forests and gorges as well as caves. But it can take several hours to reach the summit, 4,700ft above sea level.  

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