"Sifnos" Top 5 Page for this destination Nisos Sifnos by mindcrime

Nisos Sifnos Travel Guide: 84 reviews and 319 photos

Sifnos is an island of Cyclades complex located in between Serifos, Milos and Paros. It has about 2700 inhabitants most of them at Apollonia and Artemonas. Hopefully there’s no airport so you cant see masses of tourists arriving from Europe with charter flights. We used the ferry from Piraeus (5h with slow one, 2,5h with the fast one) and although the island is not impressive it’s no surprise many people love it and come here again and again because Sifnos gets inside you slowly (there’s no cheap impressions here).

Many people find the island boring because they don’t know what to do after 2 days but if you ask me 2-3 days can be more than pleasant here. Don’t forget to try local specialities, Sifnos is famous for good food, chef Nikolaos Tselementes (1878–1958) was born here, he wrote a classic cookery book still used in Greece today.

The first 2 days we stayed at Kamares which is the port of the island, actually our room was at Agia Marina, 10’ walk from Kamares on a more quiet area. The next 3 days we moved to the center of the island, at Apollonia which is the capital village and much more busy with lots of restaurants and some nice cozy pubs (but again don’t expect extreme nightlife, people have good mood here but they didn’t come to posh or getting completely drunk, there are many other islands to feel this…). There’s also a folk art museum at Apollonia, 2 exhibition halls and many interesting churches.

From Apollonia we walked to attached villages like Artemonas (beautiful architecture with old mansions, many bakeries and pastry stores), Ano Petali, Kato Petali and Exambela (for Vrysiani monastery).

The most beautiful village is Kastro (3km from Apollonia), the picturesque old capital of Sifnos (from medieval era until 1836). It is located on the top of a rocky hill going down to the sea, we loved walking along the tiny cobblestone alleys, visiting churches and also the small archaeological museum.

There are many beaches that we visited as half day trips, some of them are good spots for renting a room if you just want to be near the water with no worries about sightseeing etc Even from there you can just take the local bus and visit Apollonia, Kamares etc Choose between Faros, Vathi, Platis Yialos, Cherronisos and many smaller ones.

History of Sifnos (from Wikipedia):

Sifnos was inhabited by human beings from at least 4000 BCE. Archeological evidence indicates the island was within the mainstream of Late Neolithic and Early Bronze Age Cycladic civilization. The island was very wealthy in ancient times, thanks to its gold, silver, and lead, which were being mined there as early as the 3rd millennium BCE. Proof of this is the treasury which the Siphnians built at Delphi in the 6th century BCE to house their offerings. According to Pausanias, these mines were obliterated by floods in ancient times, a disaster which some attributed to the people of the island suspending their tribute out of greed. Modern scholars suggest that some of the mines flooded because they had eventually been dug to a depth below sea level, while the majority of them, situated far from the sea, were probably exhausted. Remains of ancient mines, some dating back to prehistoric times, are still to be seen on the island, most notably at Ay. Sostis, and remains of ancient fortifications, dating from the third millennium to the sixth century BCE, have been found at Ay. Andreas, Ay. Nikitas, and Kastro. Another indication of Sifnos's wealth is the fact that it was one of the first places in Greece to mint coins, beginning around 600 BCE, although the number minted does not seem to have been great, and the island of Aegina, which used Siphnian silver, seems to have developed a much greater export capacity in this form of the metal.
During the extensive Greek migrations which occurred beginning perhaps as early as the 12th century BCE, Sifnos was mostly populated by Ionian Greeks from Athens. The island appears only rarely in the subsequent ancient history of Greece. In the sixth century BCE it was invaded by pirates from Samos. In the fifth century BCE, Sifnos was an official member of the Greek defensive alliance formed to fight the Persian Wars. In the next century the island was briefly taken over by the Persians but liberated by a fleet sent by Alexander the Great. The verb "to play the Siphnian" appears in a fragment of Aristophanes, and is explained in the Suda alongside "to Lesbianize" as a reference to transgression.

Little is known of Sifnos during the Roman and Byzantine eras, though three Roman sarcophagi remaining in the streets of Kastro and a collection of 80 Byzantine coins in the Museum there testify to substantial continued population during those times. In the early 14th century Sifnos came under the power of the Italian or Spanish Hospitaller Januli da Corogna, who proclaimed the island independent from the Sanudi dynasty which then ruled most of the Cyclades area. The Corognas ruled Sifnos for over a hundred years; around 1440 as a result of a dynastic marriage power over the island passed to a Bolognese family, the Gozzadini, who ruled until 1617. Though both these dynasties became thoroughly Hellenized, they retained their Roman Catholic form of religion.
Little is also known of Sifnos during the Ottoman rule of the Cyclades from 1537 on. It seems likely that, as in most of the Cyclades, Ottoman rule on Sifnos was fairly loose, consisting mainly of the collection of taxes, with the islanders largely administering their own affairs. By the early 17th century Sifnos was a significant commercial center, and from 1821 the island played an important role in the Greek national revolution.

The island's rich clay veins, sunny weather and temperature have made Sifnos a capital of pottery in the Aegean, with unique jars and pots that are a "trademark" of the island. They are typical of the Sifnian everyday life, such as ashtrays, cooking and food vessels, "masteles", "foufoudes" (kind of chimneys) etc. Locally, 'Sifnios' was a variant word for potter. The oldest potteries were found in central regions such as Artemon and Ano Petali to avoid pirate attacks.

  • Last visit to Nisos Sifnos: May 2013
  • Intro Written Jun 18, 2013
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Reviews (19)

Comments (3)

  • Nemorino's Profile Photo
    Jul 17, 2013 at 2:58 PM

    What a great idea to spend the Easter week on this island!
    Excellent photos and texts, with lots of interesting details that really make this place come to life. Just to mention one example, I was interested to learn that many Greeks now refer to any cook book as Tselemende – just as Americans call any dictionary a Webster’s and Germans call any etiquette book a Knigge.

    • mindcrime's Profile Photo
      Jul 17, 2013 at 11:53 PM

      I knew about webster but not about knigge that (I see now) dates back to 1788!

  • balhannah's Profile Photo
    Jun 22, 2013 at 2:57 AM

    Excellent, comprehensive page! Easter sounds like a lovely time to be there and see the traditions. I love your photo's, especially of the white washed homes and the gorgeous blue sea.

  • nickandchris's Profile Photo
    Jun 19, 2013 at 2:36 PM

    Fantastic, looks truly beautiful and sounds a wonderful holiday!

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