It is located 32 Km west of Samos Town. In the old days it was mentioned as Karlovasia (plural of Karlovasi) because it was comprised out of three communities, New Karlovasi, Middle Karlovasi and Old Karlovasi where the port was. They were all independent villages and built on the hills that are surrounding the valley. During the 1950’s they were united along with a Karlovasi settlement named Sakouleika and thus comprised the Municipality of Karlovasi.
In the center is New Karlovasi, Middle Karlovasi is one km to the west and separated from the New by the Karlovasi torrent. One km further to the west is the Old Karlovasi, hidden behind the hill of Agia Triada (Holy Trinity) and to the North of it is the harbor. In nowadays all three villages have expanded so much so they are united to one. The result is that Karlovasi is the largest in size and most sparsely populated area of Samos as well as Greece.
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.
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. Old Karlovasi was built first, well hidden in woody area and then the other villages followed build on hills and far from the sea out of fear for the pirates. Last was the harbor where building began in the 8th of September 1871 and last was Ormos settlement.
Karlovasi is the headquarters of the Mathematical school of the Aegean University and is a major commercial center. Many inhabitants are also occupied in viniculture and the olive oil business.
Since its early days in Karlovasi there were many tanneries operating that were destroyed 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 for the processing of the hides. After the discovery of chemical ways for the production of tannic acid the industry has diminished.
Three km southeast of Karlovasi, next to the road that leads to Konteika is the monastery of Profitis Elias (Prophet Elias) on an altitude of 200 meters. Its construction began in 1739 by the monks Neophilos and Gregorios.
West of Karlovasi is also the beach of Potami. There is a hot spring emerging and the chapel of “Metamorphosi” (transfiguration) that dates back to the 11th century and is considered to be the oldest one surviving on the island. Potami is a waterfront settlement that is developing because of tourism. A little further to the west there are two beaches of great natural beauty. The Small and Big Seitani beaches, both are protected areas since they are the habitat of the Monachus-Monachus seal.
Settlements belonging to the Municipality of Karlovasi are: Prophitis Elias with 91 residents, Potami with 12 Sakouleika with 25 and Sourides with 27 residents. The last two ones are quite old and are mentioned in the 1928 census, Potami is a quite new settlement.
Karlovasi’s highest ever-recorded population was recorded in the 1928 census, 7574 people.
source : http://www.samosin.gr