"Syros... The Queen of the Cyclades" Top 5 Page for this destination Syros Island by Joseph69
Syros Island Travel Guide: 139 reviews and 341 photos
Ermoupolis, "City of Hermes", lies basically on 2 hills, covered with beautiful neo-classical buildings, old mansions and other white houses cascading down to the harbour. It has a huge City Hall, where Miaoulis Square lies surrounded with cafes, the main OTE phone's headquarters for the region, numerous shops and with plenty of seating areas around the many palm trees. It has a grandeur all of its own.
There is also a suburb called Ano Syros which was built by the Venetians at the beginning of the 13th century on the hill of San Giorgio, north-west of Hermoupolis. Great views of the neighbouring islands of Tinos, Mykonos, Delos, and if you're lucky, Paros and Naxos.
Syros has quite a long history, dating back to Ancient times. Most notibaly, in the Byzantine years Syros constituted together with the rest of the Cycladic islands, part of the Aegean Dominion. When the Francs/Venetians entered the island in 1204, the Byzantium fell apart and the island came under Venetian domination.
During the Latin period, the majority of the local community were Roman Catholics, but maintained the Greek language, which lasted three and a half centuries!
In the middle of the 16th century, the Ottoman fleet occupied the island, but, the negotiations of the local authorities with the Ottoman Empire led to the offer of substantial privileges to the Cycladic islands such as the reduction of taxation and religious freedom. Quite lucky I think.
An agreement between France and the Vatican with the Ottoman authorities, the Catholics of the island came under the protection of France and Rome. That privilege that was maintained for centuries.
Today, you will notice a church on each of the two hills as seen in the photo. The one of the left is a Roman Catholic church and the one on the right is a Greek Orthadox church. Although the island was exclusively Roman Catholic for centuries, today, I'd say it's an even 50-50 split of Roman Catholics and Greek Orthadox.
Even many of the surnames of the citizens have been "Greekenized" from Italian names. Examples are Russo to Roussos, Vuccino to Voutsinos, Daleggio to Dalezios, etc.
*** Check out the many TIPS and PHOTOS of this wonderful island at the bottom of this page - of course, more will follow in the future! ***
Syros is in a terrific geographical position thus became a popular maritime port. Special social, religious, and institutional conditions prevailing on the island led the Syriots to neutrality at the beginning of the Greek Revolution in 1821. Syros at that time was a secure shelter during the Revolution and attracted many Greek refugees from other Greek islands such as Spetses, Chios, Aivali, Smyrna, Kydonia, Kassos, Asia Minor and other areas.
The newcomers, who were mainly mariners, tradesmen, etc, gave a new dynamic to the island which with both its demographic and economic development, was transformed into a key administrative and cultural centre.
Ermoupoli was rebuilt in a Neoclassical style in the years between 1822-1865 , merging together Greek Classism with elements of the Renaissance. Many landmarks such as the City Hall, designed by a German architect named Ernst Ziller, the Apollon theatre designed by the Italian architect Campo (which is a miniature version of La Scala di Milano in Milan), the General Hospital of Syros (Vardakeio-Proio), the main square, the main Library, and many more.
At the time, it was a very unique island with a lot of potential. It drew many wealthy people too hence the many mansions all over the island and to a certain extent within Ermoupolis also.
Syros has a British Cemetery at Ermoupoli where people are buried including many seaman and servicemen who died in the Cyclades region, especially during WWII. There are also a few Embassies and Consulates of other countries, for example England, France, Italy, the Scandinavian Countries and even The Netherlands!
The island is very easy to get to as many ships/ferries stop there and it also has an airport. It's 4 hours by standard ferry from Pireaus, or 2.5 hours by the Highspeed or a 30 minute flight from Athens International Airport.
- Pros:Beautiful unique town centre, plenty of shopping, nice beaches
- Cons:Can get busy in the peak season
- In a nutshell:Syros does not only rely on tourism, making it a pleasure to visit
Here is a photo of Syros Airport soon after its completion in the early 1990s. Notice the sheer drop in elevation on... more travel advice
Syros is very well serviced by ferries. The majority come from Pireaus, Tinos, Mykonos, Paros, Naxos , Ios, Santorini,... more travel advice
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