Syros island, the Lady of the Aegean

The island complex of Cyclades, to which Syros belongs, is located at the southern Aegean sea.

With such islands like

  • Melos, where the famous statue of Venus (the one adorning today the Louvre Museum) was discovered;
  • Santorini, a favorite destination for loving couples from all over the world;
  • Mykonos, adopted by the international jet-set and by the LGBT community,

as well as many more breath-taking small and bigger ones, images from the Cyclades circulate all over the ‘net and the glossy magazines, raising the imagination and the desires of all age and income groups.

.
Location – Transport

Syros is at the centre of the Cyclades island complex. It is regularly served:

  • by ferry boats, all year long, from Piraeus, and also from Rafina, another well-known ferry port near Athens;
  • by plane, with Syros’ airport being at no more than3 km(~2 miles) from the island’s capital, Hermoupolis;
  • by bus lines covering most of the island and allowing easy transport between the villages and beaches of Syros (during summer time, some of these lines operate on a 24-hour basis);
  • by ferry boat lines connecting Syros with several Cyclades islands.

The Quarantine House (Lazareta)


Syros History

Excavations at the areas of Halandriani and Castri have proved that Syros was inhabited since pre-historic times (3rd millennium B.C.)

Prehistoric settlements:
The settlements belong to the Proto-Cycladic civilization (2,700-2,200 BC) and are among the most well-preserved sites of this historic era, with a cemetery with more than 600 tombs containing offerings, as well as remnants of houses, metallurgy workshops, fortifications, etc. Some of the findings are housed at the Archaeological Museum of Syros island.

The island was continually inhabited throughout the passing centuries, under the consecutive control of Phoenicians, Minoans, Mycenaeans, and others. Archaeologists have discovered vestiges of settlements of the Greek classical and pre-classical eras at various spots of the island. The great philosopher Pherecydes, master of Pythagoras of Samos, was born at Syros.

The island flourished up to the beginning of the Christian era. Later, pirates plagued Syros; then, the island came under Venetian rule; in the early 17th century, the Turks destroyed Syros. All these adventures caused the quasi-devastation of the island, which remained with no more than 2,500-3,000 inhabitants (16th-18th centuries).

Syros began to flourish in the mid-19th century, when it became the main port of the newly-founded Hellenic (Greek) state, until the mid-20th century, when Piraeus took over the reigns as the major port city in Greece.

 

Main Towns

Hermoupolis
Hermoupolis’ architecture reflects the unique history of this Greek island. Massively populated in the 19th century and quickly becoming the main commercial port of the newly-founded state, the town displays rich and impressive buildings of the period, mansions, churches, museums, and numerous places of historical interest.  Its name actually means, The Town of Hermes (Greek god of commerce).

The Town Hall of Hermoupolis. Designed by Εrnst Ziller and built in 1876-1891, this neoclassical building is one of the many architectural jewels of Hermoupolis.

 

Vaporia (=Ships) was the quarter of rich ship owners and captains of Syros (19th century). Today it is one of the most picturesque spots of the island with wonderful, elegant mansions, many of which have been recently renovated.

Syros, Hermoupolis, St Nicholas Greek-Orthodox church

Beginning from the port, the town climbs up two distinct hills: one used to be the quarter of the Orthodox inhabitants (Hermoupolis), the other used to be the quarter of the Catholics of the islands (Ano Syros).

.
Ano Syros
In sheer contrast with the urban, neoclassical architecture of Ermoupolis, Ano Syros is a medieval walled settlement with cobblestone-paved alleys, roofed passageways and traditional two-storeyed houses. Built  by the Venetians on a twin hill opposite to what later became the town of Ermoupolis, Ano Syros is a historical heritage site.

Ano Syros, San Giorgio, Cathedral & Cappuccin Monastery, first built in the 13th century


Syros
Beaches and Villages

Galissas
One of the most popular resorts onSyrosisland, a long sandy beach on a quiet little bay, with several hotels and rooms to let. Water sports, good food and varied nightlife options make Galissas a perfect choice for either families or younger visitors.

Syros, Galissas beach

 

Varvaroussa
Besides popular and crowded beaches,Syros has got several less frequented spots, with no umbrellas, taverns or other modern facilities to spoil their natural beauty. Varvaroussa is a rock island that can be reached by boat (regular transportation from Kini beach) or on foot from the nearby Apano Meria.

Kini
A picturesque fishing village turned into a family resort, with little hotels and rooms bordering the sandy beach, fish taverns offering fresh and tasty sea food, places of cultural interest, as well as a couple of religious festivals with charming local customs.

Syros, Kini village & beach

 

——————-

Image sources:

Quarantine HouseChurch of St Nicholas, Ano Syros 1Ano Syros 2, Galissas, Kini
Vaporia & the Town Hall: wikipedia article on Hermoupolis

This entry was posted in Travel and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>