Syros is one of the islands of the Cyclades. Its
capital is Ermoupolis, which is also the capital of the region’s southern
The island gained its rapid development after
1826, with the settlement of refugees arriving here from Asia Minor, as well as
from Greek islands of Psara, Chios and Crete, becoming one of the marine,
industrial and cultural centres of the new Greek state.
The toponym of the island dates back to his
first settlers – the Phoenicians. Today, there are two versions of its name:
one related to the word “Ushiro”, which means from the Phoenician language
“happy”, and another related with “sir” (“rock”).
It is noteworthy that in the “Odyssey” of Homer the
island is called “Syrii”, marked as being in the vicinity of Delos, while in
the 17th century Syros island is often referred to as the island of the Pope:
“L'isola del Papa” – in connection with the Catholic doctrine, which was
followed by its inhabitants.
Syros is located in the central part of the
Cyclades, at a distance of 83 nautical miles from Piraeus and 62 miles from
The island is bordered by several islands of the
Cyclades. Andros is located to the north; Tinos is in the north-east; Mykonos and
small islands of Delos and Rinia (Renia) are in the east; Kay and Giaros are in
north west; Kythnos (Kythnos) is in the west; Serifos on south west; and
Antiparos, Paros and Naxos in the south.
The northern part of Syros is called Apano
Merja. It represents a sparsely populated mountainous terrain and attracts
particular interest to its morphology: it is the only place of the island,
covered with limestone, unlike the rest of it, dominated by volcanic rocks.
There are a lot of rocks, bridges, caves and trails leading to the northern
beaches of Syros (Grammata, Liah, Aetos, Varvarusa), located away from the
hustle and bustle, which are ideal for a relaxing and quiet holiday.
The southern part of the island is a lowland
area, which has most of the settlements as a developed tourist infrastructure
and road network, as well as the most famous beaches of Syros: Ermoupolis city
beaches (Asteria, Taliro, Kimata) and cosmopolitan beaches Angafopes, Delfini,
and Azolimnos, Komita , Kini, Lotus, and Galissas Kokkina, especially suitable
for family holidays.
According to archaeological discoveries in
Halandriani and Castries, the island had been inhabited since prehistoric times
(3,000 BC). Thus, in Halandriani archaeologists found more than 600 graves with
funerary objects. Also, in Castries they found a fortified settlement with
intense activity and urban community development of trade relations (in
particular, with the coastal part of Asia Minor).
In the 2nd millennium BC, Syros was under the
control of the Phoenicians, Minoan Crete, Mycenae and the Ionians (at the
beginning of the 1st millennium BC).
On the hill of Agia Paku (Hypakoi) in Galissas,
as well as in the west of Ermoupolis archaeologists found traces of settlements
of the 7th century BC.
In the 6th century BC, island was captured by
residents of Samos. At that period of time, there was born a famous poet,
philosopher, scientist of antiquity and teacher of Pythagoras – Pherecydes, who
had later moved to the island of Samos.
Pherecydes is considered the inventor of heliotrope,
which was the first sun clock. Two caves in Syros, Rihopu and Alifini, are
given his name.
In the classical period, Syros was a member of
the Athens Symmachus (Delian League). It was an autonomous state with
Parliament and municipality. Although it had its own minted silver coin, it
paid tribute to the Athenians. After the Battle of Chaeronea (338 BC), Cyclades
were conquered by the Macedonians.
In the Hellenistic period, the island was
flourishing as it is evidenced by the architectural remains of temples’ kabiris
in Alifini and Galissas, while the other discoveries were made in the north of
Syros (Grammata), indicate the existence of the sanctuary of Asclepius.
During the period of the Roman rule (184 BC-324
AD), the capital of Syros was on the site of modern Ermoupolis.
During the Byzantine times, due to the threat of
devastating pirate raids, Syros, alongside with other small vulnerable islands,
was virtually completely deserted, despite the fact that the internal parts of
the island still had a few settlements.
During this period, at that time already a
Christian island of Samos, along with the other islands of the Cyclades in the
Aegean, had been a part of Tema (military-administrative district of the
Byzantine era) controlled by the Governor General (stratigos), and later by a duke
In 1204, with the strengthening of the Venetians
in the Aegean, the first large settlement called Ano Syros was created. Its
inhabitants followed the Catholic faith whilst preserving the Greek language.
In addition, an orthodox parish of Agios Nikolaos the Ftohu (St. Nicholas the Poor)
was also saved.
In 1579, the island was conquered for the Great
Ports by Hayreddin Barbarossa and later Capuchin monks (1635) came here, being
followed by Jesuits (1744).
During the Greek Revolution of 1821, Syros took
a neutral position, and therefore, in 1822, after the destruction of Chios and
expulsion of Greeks from the islands of Samos, Rhodes, Psara and Kasos as well
as Smyrna (Izmir) and Kidonies (Aivali), which caused a massive wave of immigration,
refugees in Syros found relative safety, thanks to the privileges granted to
the island at that time by the sultan Ports, and also because of its large
natural and windless harbour.
During that period, some wealthy residents of Syros
built their first houses, where Ermoupolis is based today, whilst refugees
received a built Transfiguration Church (1824) as well as houses of stone
erected up across the hill, with the creation of areas of Vrontado, Psaryana
Very quickly, a city was created at the foot of
Ano Syros, which was full of life and magnificent buildings.
The development of Ermoupolis had contributed,
respectively, to the development of the port, with transportation of cargo and
wheat. By 1828, the urban population of the city was 14,000. Ermoupolis became
a major urban centre, and soon the largest industrial and commercial centre
freed by that time from the Turks in Greece.
Along with the trade and industry, the rapid
development had happened in shipping, construction and leather industry, while
plantar leather from Syros was delivered to the Balkans and Turkey.
It is worth noting also that the shipyards of
Syros played an important role in the restoration of the merchant fleet, which
was destroyed during the military events of the time.
In early May 1941, Italian troops landed in
Syros, and in September 1943 the island passed into the hands of the German
Syros realised its new prosperity only after 90
years of the last century, when it became one of the popular destinations of
Greek tourists. Ermoupolis gained a reputation as "a living museum",
thanks to hundreds of impressive private houses and public buildings, as well
as to its beautiful squares. At the same time, the island's coastal settlements
(such as Gallisas, Finikas, Posidonia, Vari, Kini, Angafopes and others)
underwent rapid development.
It is noteworthy that modern Ermoupolis is
crowded and busy throughout the year, from winter to summer.
The island is characterized by harmonious
coexistence of Christians who profess the Catholic and the Orthodox faith, with
a large number of mixed marriages. It should be noted that the Catholic and
Orthodox churches celebrate Easter together – according to the Orthodox
The island has the Archdiocese of Syros, which
includes many of the nearby islands – Tinos, Andros, Kea, Milos, Mykonos,
Delos, and others.
There are many Orthodox churches, including the
Church of Transfiguration of the Saviour (Metropolis of Syros), the Church of
Assumption of the Virgin, which keeps canvases of Dominic Theotokopoulos (El
Greco), the Church of Resurrection, the Church of St. Nicholas – patron saint
of Hermoupolis and so forth.
Syros also has many Catholic churches and
chapels located in all parts of the island.
What to see
· Town Hall Hermoupolis
building, designed by German architect Ernest Chiller at the end of the 19th
century, is located in the Myauli the square.
Library of Hermoupolis, consisting of 45,000 books; located on the first floor
of the Cultural Centre (Pneumatiko Kentro). The official date of establishment
is 1926. There are rare books stored here, such as “Argonautica” of Apollonius
of Rhodes, “Onomastics of Pollux” of Rakin, “Justinian” of Dimitri Rodokanakisa
and many others.
· The Apollo Theatre
is one of the famous Greek theatres, which was built in 1862 by architect
Pietro Sambi. It represents a miniature of Milan’s La Scala. The official
opening of the theatre building took place on 20 April 1864, in the presence of
Michalis Salvagu, who was the initiator of the project.
Archaeological Museum of Syros
Initially, the museum
was housed in the building of the school. Its exposition was based on the
archaeological collection consisting mainly of the inscriptions collected by Ioannis
Kokkonisom in 1834. From 1899 to 1901, the museum was transferred to the
building of the City Hall. Today, there are a large number of artefacts from
Halandriani, as well as some interesting sculptures of the Hellenistic and
Museum – Centre for Technical Culture
It was founded in 1985;
consists of four buildings located in the heart of the industrial area of
Ermoupolis: dyeing factory of Katsimanti, shot foundry of Anerussi, tannery of
Kornilaki and textile factory of Velissaropulu.
opening of the museum took place on 12 May 2002 in the presence of the
President of Greece Konstantinos Stephanopoulos.
Archive of Syros
It is located in the
Ladopulos building, which stands on the Myauli square. The archive stores
important documents related to the history of the city and, in general, to the
· Museum of
Cycladic Art copies
It began operating from
1993, with funding supplied by the family of Yannis and Eleni Vathi. It is located
in the halls of the Cultural Centre of Hermoupolis.
Museum of Syros
It is located in the area
of Vapor, in the vicinity of the church of St. Nicholas.
· Museum of
The museum is located in
Ano Syros, in a traditional house, which is typical of the island and which was
built in 1995. The museum exposition consists of photographs, art works as well
as personal belongings of the composer.
There are three
exhibition halls on the island: Ermoupoli, Pinacoteca of Cyclades and Emmanuel
Rhoides. This place hosts major art exhibitions.
· Historical shipyards:
- Neorio is
the oldest mechanical workshop of Greece (1861);
- Tarsanas is
the place where traditional art of wooden shipbuilding was carefully preserved
during the last 200 years;
- Carnago is one of the
first and largest shipyards (Carnago) of Syros in past years.
Apart from that, Syros has its own philharmonic,
the creation of which dates back to 1872, with its first music teacher Delfino
Spinelli. There is also a modern cinema “Pallas” (adapted for both winter and
summer), several yacht clubs, indoor and outdoor stadiums, two local TV
channels and six radio stations. It produces a daily newspaper “Koini Gnomi”
(general opinion) and weekly newspaper “Logos ton Kikladon” (The Word of the
Cyclades); there is a monthly published magazine “Serious”, plus some electronic
With regard to education, Syros has many public and
private kindergartens and primary schools as well as high schools, colleges and
vocational training establishments. There are also institutions of higher
education: the faculty of mechanical engineering products and systems of Aegean
University and Merchant Marine Academy.
Syros has one of the best harbours in Greece,
which, thanks to its unique location, are protected from strong Cycladic winds.
There are daily flights to Piraeus and to the
islands of the Cyclades. In addition, travel routes are carried out in the direction
of the Dodecanese and north-eastern islands of the Aegean Sea.
The state airport of Syros “Dimitrios Vikelas”,
which is located three kilometres from the centre of Hermoupolis, was
established in 1992.
The airport is named after prominent Greek poet,
writer and author Vikelas Dimitrios who was born in Syros. In addition,
Dimitrios Vikelas was one of the organizers of the modern Olympic Games, being
the first president of the International Olympic Committee (1894-1896).
There are daily Athens-Syros-Athens (Olympic
Air) flights conducted from Athens airport “Eleftherios Venizelos”.
Bus station (KTEL Siru)
The bus station in Syros came into existence in
1946 and moved to a new location in 1990.
The bus fleet consists of constantly updated
machines in order to better serve its passengers. At the same time, the route
network is expanding covering an increasing number of settlements and resorts
on the island. In summer time, buses operate around the clock.
Mini buses are widely used as public transport from
2003. They pass through the main points of the city centre in order to avoid overloading
local resort, with free transportation around the city.
The island also has taxis, which can be used for
movement within the settlements as well as for long-distance intercity communications.
In addition, here you can rent a car or moped. In recent times much attention
is given to creation of bicycle lanes.
There are tourist train (on wheels) and chaise
for the use of visitors of Syros.
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