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Samos with Ikaria & Fourni: 3 (McGilchrist's Greek Islands)

Hera - powerful and often difficult Queen of the Heavens - was born on Samos and that fact meant that from earliest times the island was a particularly important centre of cult, with visitors and suppliants coming to it from all points of the compass. In the 6th century BC, under the firm and ambitious grip of the autocrat Polycrates, the island dominated Aegean waters and boasted a capital city which was unsurpassed by any other Greek city for its size and sophistication. The remains of this golden age are one of the prime reasons for visiting the island and the collection of archaic sculpture in the museum has no equals outside Athens. Samos is rich in its greenness and variety of landscape and its flora are impressive, with many unique and endemic species to be seen in its mountain massifs and over 60 different types of wild orchid recorded. Ikaria presents a forbidding wall of high mountains, bearing the force of the winds from both north and south, but the island, particularly the west, has a landscape that is equally rewarding for the naturalist, the rambler, the anthropologist and the photographer. Fourni has a heavily indented coastline and waters that are remarkably rich in fish and the island is a pleasant and quiet retreat with a delightful chora.

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