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Syros

/Syros
Syros 2017-09-05T19:03:40+00:00

1. Welcome to Syros island

Syros villages Cyclades Greece

Syros villages Cyclades Greece

Syra – or otherwise known as Syros – is the biggest in population among the Cyclades (19,870 inhabitants – 2011 census). It is the eleventh Cycladic island in size, being about 24 square kilometers in size and having maximum length of 22,5 kilometers. Its position is central among the Cyclades. It is a hilly island with small valleys and its highest peak (Pirgos) is 442 m.

The soil is mostly rocky and infertile and there are steep slopes and narrow gullies in the north; still, the surface is less uneven in the south and there are more cultivated areas there as well as inland patches with enough vegetation. The coastline is jagged with enough leeward and safe bays, the worth-mentioning ones being those of Finikas in the southwest and of Hermoupolis in the east. Smaller ones are those of Vari, Galissas, Kini, Delfini, Grammata.

Apart from the solid mass of buildings of Hermoupolis and Ano Syra on the eastern coastline, the island is scattered with inland and seaside settlements in the south as well as a great number of farmhouses – theatrically built on hillsides – in the north.

Hermoupolis, the capital of the island and of the Cycladic complex, is the only urban area in the island complex with well-organized Social and Financial services and numbers 13,030 inhabitants.

Syros view Cyclades Greece

Syros view Cyclades Greece

Ano Syra, the second municipality on the island, is situated on the conic hill rising behind Hermoupolis and numbers 1,022 inhabitants. The whole municipal area (which includes the northern part of the island – with the settlements of Episkopio, Alithini, Malia and Kini as well as the nowadays uninhabited Yiaros Island with an area of 17 sq. km) numbers 1,652 inhabitants. The rest of the population lives in the villages in the south.

The climate on the island, mild and temperate, is dry Mediterranean with periods of low or high humidity depending on the particular geo-morphological conditions of each territory.

Geologically, according to the prevailing scientific version, the island was part of the bottom of the sea millions of years ago. Rocks on the island come mainly from sea sediments and, in a smaller percentage, are products of volcanic action.

Over the long period of time that these rocks were part of the sea bottom they were subjected to powerful earth crust movements that resulted in the lifting of the rock layers and the formation of depressions on the ground. The kinds of rocks found on the island – mainly marble and schist – were formed through a long series of transformations that took place in two periods, 45 and 25 millions years ago respectively.

Later, vertical tectonic movements – common in the whole Aegean Sea area – caused part of the land to submerge, so forming the island as we see it nowadays.

Some minerals were found in various parts of Syros (Ayios Dimitrios, Azolimnos, Abela, Komito e.t.c.) containing iron oxides and sulfur and were extracted in the first decades of this century.

Until last century (before water pumps were established) there were lots of springs on the island, most of them having run dry nowadays due to underground water level drop. Nevertheless, in many areas water is drawn nowadays from 200 m under the sea level! Remarkable though it may seem this water resource was formed some thousands of years ago in the Ice Age when the sea level was hundreds of meters lower than today.

Syros travel Cyclades Greece

Syros travel Cyclades Greece

Syros, despite its limited vegetation and the excessive “development” of the countryside, still has areas with a great variety of rare Mediterranean plants and herbs. Here are two of the most important:

– Alonida (Alhagi Maurorum), mentioned by the traveler and botanist Tournefort in 1700, contains a laxative. Its juice reminds of honey and, when dried, forms a kind of manna. The above mentioned traveler first saw this plant “along the seashore, near the harbor” (which was empty then).

– Three species of Crocuses (Zafora) can be found on the island. One of them (Crocus Tournefortii) is indigenous of Syros, found nowhere else. Samples of this plant, found in Ai Thanassis close to the Ano Syra Fountain, near Ai Dimitrios (northern town limits) and in Megas Yialos, are exhibited in Goulandris Natural History Museum.

2. Activities on Syros

Syros taverns Cyclades Greece

Syros taverns Cyclades Greece

Syros island offers a great variety of activities to its visitors.

For those who want to rest and relax, there are many organized beaches for swimming and sun bathing.

Sea excursions to the north beaches of the island are organized at Kini, while bicycling is a very common activity during the past years.

The food choices are in numerous. There are many traditional fish restaurants on the beach as well as several restaurants of international cuisine at the pedestrian streets of Ermoupolis and Ano Syros. Nightlife is particularly intense, especially at the bars, the casino and the night clubs of Ermoupolis that remain open until the early morning hours.

Syros is the capital of Cyclades and consequently it has an intense cultural activity (concerts, theatrical performances, art exhibitions, anti-racist festivals), while many traditional festivals are organized during the summer at the villages of the island

Syros is also ideal for those who love hiking and wondering around the unspoiled Cycladic landscape. The north side of the island, which actually adjoins Kini and Apollo Hotel, is full of paths and places of archaeological interest from the Cycladic civilization (3 millennium BC).

On the left side of the magnificent beach Dolphin, at the beach of Armeou and at the isolated beaches of the northern part of Syros, one can practice nudism or even occasional camping near the sea.

3. Best beaches on Syros

beaches on Syros Greece

beaches on Syros Greece

Galissas beach is located about 5 km from the main town of Ermoupolis towards the south area of Syros. It is considered to be one of the most popular beach resorts on the island. Galissas beach is in a small bay with crystal clear shallow, safe water that is ideal for families with young children. It is a long sandy beach and trees have been planted along the beach so as to provide shade to those that want to avoid the Greek sun shine. This beach has been awarded by the EU blue flag organization which assures the cleanliness of the waters. Many water sports take place on Galassias beach and accommodation and taverns can be found at a very close distance. For those that prefer a quieter beach to relax on there is another beach very close to Galassias beach that is called Armeos, this beach can be reached if you follow the narrow path after you pass the church of Ayia Pakou.

Megas Gialos beach is located 12 km away from the main town of Ermoupolis towards the south of Syros Island. You can reach this beach by taking the bus from Ermoupolis. The beach gets very crowded in the summer season as it is a very popular sea side resort. Its sandy shores with tall trees planted along it gives its guests a beautiful time in a clean and safe Greek island atmosphere, its crystal shallow waters are very suitable for families with young children. There are many options for accommodation, restaurants and facilities that will make your sea side trip one of the best.

Syros sunset Cyclades Greece

Syros sunset Cyclades Greece

Poseidonia beach is located 13 km towards the south west side of Ermoupolis, you can reach this beach by taking the bus from the main town of Ermoupolis. It is a well organized beach with a beautiful view of the Aegean Sea and the small islets of Stroggylo and Schinonissi, which are located exactly opposite Poeidonia beach.  Another sandy beach with crystal clear waters, tall trees and many tourist facilities, accommodation, restaurants etc.

Finikas beach is located 11 km away from the main town of Ermoupolis towards the south east coast of the island of Syros. You can hop on the bus from Ermoupolis in order to reach Finikas beach.  The word finikas in the Greek language means palm tree and the area was named after the many palm trees that can be found around there.  Finikas is classed to be the second largest harbor on the island after the main port in Ermoupolis. Many yachts and fishing boats dock in the small bay as it is to their interest because the bay is sheltered away from the northern summer winds (meltemi) that are very popular in the Cyclades islands. There is a large choice of fish restaurants and accommodation in the area that offer their services at very reasonable prices. A sandy beach with a wonderful atmosphere and view is how one would describe Finikas beach.

Agathopes beach is located 13 km away from the main town of Ermoupolis towards the south-west of Syros close to the area of Possidonia. This beautiful beach is protected by the Greek ministry of Enviroment as in the Spring time the Mediterranean seals (monachus – monachus ) come to this safe and hospitable beach to breed and give birth to their babies. The beach is well protected from the northern summer winds and the sea is usually calm and safe. This beach becomes even more beautiful in summer time as the sand lilies are in blossom everywhere on the beach and on its surroundings. The small islets Schinonissi and Strongylo are at a very close distance from Agathopes beach.

Vari beach is located 8 km away from Ermoupolis towards the south east coast of the island of Syros. It is a sheltered bay that offers sun chairs, umbrellas, sea sports and a large choice of accommodation and restaurants. Vari is a walking distance away from Azolimnos beach.

Kini beach on Syros:  Kini beach and village are located 8 km to the west side of Ermoupolis in Syros. They  actually consist of two beaches (with some trees on ), which are separated by a short and narrow  road. There are a couple of taverns, terraces where you can have a drink, one supermarket and some accommodations that offer rooms for rent. Kini is one of the most beautiful beaches of the island of Syros and just like Galissas Beach it is well known for its picturesque sunsets.

Katergaki Beach is situated in a small bay in the south west of Syros island, at 10 kilometer distance of the capital Ermoupolis. Like a lot of the beaches on Syros it’s a small beach without many facilities: just a couple of parasols. Katergaki Beach is not far away from another small beach, the beach of Fabrikos, where you will find a hotel and there is a place where you cab have something to eat and to drink.

Here on this beach (Fabrikos) there are some parasols and beach beds for rent. Between the two beaches there is a path along a rocky shore line where sometimes people lay in the sun on the rocks and where you can find the occasional naturist, but a real naturist beach is not to be found here.

Ahladi beach is located very near to Vari beach on Syros. It is a small but popular beach resort with smooth sand and calm blue waters, it is popular for swimming. Taverns by the beach serve fresh local fish cooked traditionally. The bay is also popular for yachting and water sports.

Ampela beach is one of the smallest beaches on Syros, located near Megas Gialos beach. A small cove that offers many tourist facilities, it is considered to be a quiet beach on Syros.

Azolimnos village and beach is located 4 kilometers to the south of the main town of Ermoupolis. The beautiful beach and village attracts many tourists and locals that are looking for a peaceful relaxing swim or sun bathe.

You should take the walk along the sea to the small relaxing picturesque village of Mana. You will find many hotels, restaurants and tourist facilities in the small beach village of Azolimnos.

Fabrika beach is located 9 kilometers towards the south of Ermoupolis. It is a very quiet and isolated beach and does not attract many tourists as it is a rocky beach but if you are looking for a relaxing, quiet area then Fabrika offers clean waters and a quiet romantic atmosphere.

Komito beach is another unspoiled beach, surrounded by trees and located very close to the very popular Agathopes beach on Syros.

4. Sightseeing on Syros

Syros sites Cyclades Greece

Syros sites Cyclades Greece

There are many interesting things to see on the island of Syros, just a walk thorough the city and looking at the architecture is interesting but we have also listed the most impressive sites on Syros below.

Miaouli square in Ermoupolis

The town hall in Ermoupolis

The municipal theater ‘Apollo’ in Ermoupolis

The Cultural Center, next to City Hall,

The Statue of National Resistance at the beach

The gallery Cyclades in a neoclassical building with arches

Syros sightseeing Cyclades Greece

Syros sightseeing Cyclades Greece

The monument of «unburied Fighter» in front of the church of St. Nicholas «rich»

The district «Vaporia», a true classic piece of Syros with magnificent mansions and narrow streets

The Tarsanas next to Neoreio

The square of Ano Syros with the bust of Marcos Vamvakaris

The Historical Archives of the Municipality of Ano Syros and the Center for Historical Studies of the Catholic Diocese of Syros and the Cultural Center

The Caves of Ferekydi in Alithini and Platy Vouni

The Chalandriani, necropolis with important findings of Cycladic civilization

The remains of the fortifications of the prehistoric citadel, north of Chalandriani

The position «Grammata» in the northwestern part of the island, with inscriptions of Roman and Byzantine periods preserved in the rocks

The source Syrigga, Ano Meria, with magnificent views of the sea

The remains of the small fortress in Galissas

The image of the Virgin Mary, the work of El Greco, El Greco, who kept the homonyms Church or otherwise Notre Psara

Also take a look at the museums in Syros

5. Villages and settlements on Syros

Syros island Greece

Syros island Greece

ERMOUPOLIS: Ermoupolis, is classed as the “Queen of the Cyclades,” and is also the capital of the island of Syros, located in the center of the Aegean Sea and a city of unique history and architecture. The city stands on a naturally amphitheatrical site over one of the biggest and safest ports of Aegean, with neoclassical buildings, old mansions, marble and stone-paved streets, squares, churches, mausoleums, and white-washed houses on the surrounding hills, cascading down to the harbor. A monumental Town Square and the historic Apollo Theater are the main features at the center of town, with numerous other important buildings surrounding them. The City Hall, where Miaoulis Square lies ringed with cafes and with seating areas under palm trees, has a grandeur all of its own. The “City of Hermes” has numerous magnificent churches, the most interesting of which are Metamorphosis, Koimisis, St. Demetrius, Three Hierarchs, Anastasis, Evangelistria and St. Nicolas. The Archaeological Museum has a collection of notable finds and the Municipal Library contains numerous interesting and rare editions. The quarter of the town known as Vaporia, where the sea captains lived, is of special interest. Along its narrow streets stand numerous neo-classical mansions.

Ermoupolis enjoys a unique history as well. The city was built from scratch from 1821 to 1825 when thousands of refugees fled the eastern islands of the Aegean and Asia Minor, as a result of the Greek War of Independence. Very soon the city was the most important of the new free state, with a thriving commercial, industrial and shipping sector and a population of over 25,000 people, by far the biggest city of Greece of the time. The name of the city was decided in a early referendum to honor Ermis (Hermes), ancient Greek god of commerce. By the end of 19th century the importance of Athens and Piraeus started to rise and accordingly, the importance of Ermoupolis to decline. Some decades of population decline and excessive poverty passed before Ermoupolis enjoyed a new rise, especially since 1980. Today Ermoupolis is again a city of cultural and touristic importance, steadily gaining the favor of visitors wishing to enjoy the unique architectural landscape and the numerous important cultural events taking place all year round, but especially during summer.

Syros beauty Cyclades Greece

Syros beauty Cyclades Greece

FOINIKAS: Finikas is a coastal village and is found in the south-western department of Syros. It includes the settlement of Vissa with 733 residents.

His population deals main with rural activities particularly blooming (agriculture, horticulture, livestock-farming, culture horticultural).

The last years was developed considerably the tourism, because the marvelous natural place and the satisfactory services that offer the tourist enterprises of village.

Remarkable it is that Finikas allocates the unique natural harbor of Syros, after that of Ermoupolis, protected from the Northern winds. This graphic harbour is shelter, station of supply and hospitality for small ships of recreation, with all the required benefits (catering of water, fuels, information, telephone communication, Greek and foreigner type).

The beautiful, open and full of trees beach of Finikas, with the golden sandy beach, the comfortable space of quartering, the marine games and sport, offers separate moments of relaxation and enjoyable walks in her graphic beach. Athletic installations, ground basket and children’s charms occupy pleasant small tourists in sure and happy spaces.

The visitor has comfortable choice of stay, spring and summertime, at that Finikas allocates modern Hotel units, rented rooms and apartments, unique cleanness and service. The food, been careful and most excellent quality, is offered in big variety in the many ouzos selling restaurant, restaurants, cafes and cafeterias of beach.

For your daily shopping’s exist two Super Market. The telephone communication (urban and long distance) is ensured. Exist also Postal service, station of humid fuels, service stations of type Greek and foreigner, shops of tourist types.

In the westerners exists organised Marina that at all the duration of time serves the yachtsmen.

Finally in Finikas tourists will find the ideal conditions for pleasant quiet and unforgettable interruptions, in his clean sandy beaches, far from stress of daily life. Easter and summertime Finikas waits for you with hospitable disposal in order to offer to you unforgettable interruptions.

ANO SYROS: Ano Syros is a town and a former municipality on the island of Syros, in the Cyclades, Greece. Since the 2011 local government reform it is part of the municipality Syros- Ermoupoli, of which it is a municipal unit. The municipal unit includes the uninhabited islands Gyaros (lying to the northwest of Syros) and Varvaroúsa. Population 3,376 (2001 census); land area 67.014 km². The municipal unit shares the island of Sýros with the municipal units of Ermoupoli and Poseidonia.

6. The history and mythology of Syros

Miouli Syros, Cyclades Greece

Miouli Syros, Cyclades Greece

Antiquity:  During Roman times the capital of Syros was situated in the area of contemporary Ermoupoli. At the end of ancient times, the barbarian raids and piracy, which had surged the Aegean for many centuries, led Syros to decline.

In the Byzantine years Syros constituted part of the Aegean Dominion, along with the rest of the Cycladic islands. After the overthrow of the Byzantium by the Venetians and Franks in 1204, Syros came under Venetian rule and was included in the Ducat of the Aegean. Meanwhile, Ano Syros was founded. During the Latin period, the majority of the local community were Roman Catholics, but maintained the Greek language. During the reign of almost three and a half centuries of the Ducat of the Aegean, Syros had a singular feudal regime.

Ottoman Era:  View of Ermoupoli from the beach.In the mid-16th century, the Ottoman fleet occupied the island and the Ducat fell apart. However, negotiations of the local authorities with the Ottomans gave the Cycladic islands substantial privileges, such as the reduction of taxes and religious freedom. It was known as “Sire” during Ottoman rule.

At the same time, following an agreement between France and the Vatican with the Ottoman authorities, the Catholics of the island came under the protection of France and Rome, a privilege maintained for centuries. After the second half of the 17th century, a period of economic recovery of the Aegean began, climaxing during the transition from the 18th to the 19th century. The special regime of the islands allowed the development of local self-government. The decline of piracy since the beginning of the 19th century led to the gradual liberation of the sea routes of the Eastern Mediterranean.

Due to its crucial geographical position, Syros became known as a maritime way-point. Moreover, the special social, religious and institutional conditions prevailing on the island led Syriots to neutrality at the beginning of the Greek Revolution in 1821. As a result, Syros became a secure shelter during the Revolution, attracting many Greek refugees from Asia Minor, Chios, Spetses, Psara, Aivali, Smyrna, Kydonia, Kassos and other places. Newcomers, mainly mariners and tradesmen, gave the island a new dynamic, which along with its demographic and economic development, turned it into an administrative and cultural center.

Between 1822 and 1865, Ermoupoli was rebuilt in a Neoclassical style, merging Greek Classicism with elements of the Renaissance. Many landmarks such as the City Hall (designed by the famous German architect Ernst Ziller), the theater Apollon by the Italian architect Campo (a miniature version of La Scala di Milano), the main Library, the General Hospital of Syros (Vardakeio-Proio), Miaoulis square and other buildings were built during that period of time.

Most public buildings, churches, schools, stadiums and many mansions were built in the same elegant and neoclassical style, making Ermoupoli at the time a very modern city with a unique character. As a result, Syros changed almost overnight from a rather quiet island into a vigorous center of crafts, industry and production. Also, due to its large port of Ermoupoli, it turned into a major center for ship building and refitting. Neorion was the first shipyard of Greece. To this very day, it remains a place where many ships are serviced and refitted.

Syros also has a British cemetery where various people are buried, including many seamen and servicemen who died in the Cyclades region, particularly during the Second World War. Many embassies and consulates of countries such as France, Britain, Italy, the Netherlands and Scandinavian countries connect Syros with other European capitals.

Because of the Venetian domination from the Middle Ages and onwards, the islanders were exclusively Roman Catholic. However, due to immigration from other islands, Catholics now constitute some 47% of the population. The majority of the population are Greek Orthodox. They live peacefully side by side. Intermarriage between Churches is very common in Syros.

The Pope’s Island: View of the Cathedral.The diocese of Syra (Syrensis, “The Pope’s Island”) was a Latin diocese, suffragan of Naxos, comprising the Island of Syros in the Aegean Sea. The island has an area of about 31 square miles (80 square kilometers) and 32,000 inhabitants today. It was first called Syra, then Syros or Siros, and appears in ancient times to have been inhabited by the Phoenicians.

In the Odyssey (See Greek mythology), Syros was the country of the swineherd Eumaeus who described it at length (Odyssey, XV, 403 sq.). The island was also the home of the philosopher Pherecydes, the teacher of Pythagoras. It possessed two leading cities, Syros (now the modern Ermoupoli) and another city on the western coast where stands to-day Maria della Grazia.

The largest villages of Syros are Galissas, Finikas, Vari, Mana, Kini and Posidonia. The island did not play an important role during antiquity nor and the early Christian years[citation needed], it was not even a diocese at a time when even the smallest island possessed its bishop. Devastated several times during the Middle Ages along with the other Cyclades by the Sicilians, Arabs, Turks, and Venetians, it was definitively conquered by the Venetians in 1204 under the leadership of Marco Sanudo. It remained under Venetian rule until 1522 when the corsair Barbarossa took possession of the island.

During the Ottoman Empire Syros came under the protection of France and the Vatican[citation needed]. After 1829 it was annexed to the Hellenic kingdom.

The Venetians established there a Latin bishopric which was subject to the Archbishopric of Athens until 1525. The list of titulars may be found in Le Quien (Oriens christianus, III, 865-868) and in Eubel (Hierarchia catholica medii aevi, I, 492; II, 267; III, 324). The most celebrated among them is the Venerable John Andrew Carga, who was strangled by the Turks in 1617 because he refused to convert to Islam and because he was helping the Greek revolutionaries hiding on the island (Pétridès in “Revue de l’Orient chrétien”, V, 407-422).

From the time of the island’s occupation by the Turks in the 16th century, the Greeks established a metropolitan on Syros: Joseph (Le Quien, op. cit., II, 233) is the earliest known, along with Symeon who died in 1594 (Ampelas, Histoire de Syros, 411) and Ignatius in 1596 (Miklosich and Mueller, “Acta patriarchatus constantinopolitani”, V, 461). The island became for the most part Catholic (Ricaut, “Histoire de l’estat présent de l”Eglise grecque”, 361; Hilaire de Barenton, “La France Catholique en Orient”, 171-173).

Greek Fight for Independence: Syros did not take part in the Greek revolt of 1821. However, it was inundated with refugees from Chios, Spetses, Psara, Aivali, Smyrna, Kydonia, Kassos, Asia Minor and other parts of Greece. They flocked to the island and founded the town of Ermoupoli, which rapidly became the leading port of Greece. Ermoupoli was designed by well-known European architects such as Ernst Ziller and Campo. Since 1870, the ports of Piraeus and Patras have reduced its commercial importance.

The diocese numbers 9000 Catholics, 21 secular priests and 8 regulars, 7 parishes, 7 churches with a resident priest, 3 without a priest, and 56 chapels. The Capuchins and Jesuits each have an establishment; the Sisters of Charity, 2 houses, one of which is a hospital; the Sisters of St Joseph of the Apparition have a boarding school and St George, a De La Salle Public School.

With the foundation of the Greek state, the Catholic population of the island was hellenized and changed their Latin family names to Greek ones, (e.g. the family name Vuccino to Voutsinos, Russo to Roussos, Vacondio to Vakondios, Daleggio to Dalezios, Salsa to Salsapoulos, Freri to Freris just to mention a few). However, there was no problem of integration between the old residents of Syros, mostly Roman Catholics and the newly arrived refugees, mostly Greek Orthodox.

The island returned to peace and tranquility, Syros became known as a cross-road in the Aegean and as an international commercial center linking Western Europe and the Mediterranean sea to the East. The construction of the first buildings began in 1822, and in 1824 the first Orthodox Church Metamorphosis and the largest Greek sanatorium was constructed.

Posidonia Syros Cyclades Greece

Posidonia Syros Cyclades Greece

Economy:  Since 1830 the commerce of fabrics, silk, ship building, leather and iron developed on Syros and at the same time a powerful banking system was created. During 1831 Syros played a prominent role in the elaboration of the new Greek Constitution. Under Ioannis Kapodistrias (Giovanni Capo D’Istria), the first Governor of the new state, the population of Ermoupolis had reached 13,805 residents and the city had evolved into a seat of government. It had a Commercial Court of Law, a post office (one of the first in Greece), insurance brokerages, the first public school, a branch of the National Bank of Greece, art gallery, museum, library, a social club for the elite society etc.

However, in 1854 cholera and a series of other epidemics unfortunately plunged Syros into mourning. A number of charitable institutions for public health and social services were established during this period: orphanages, poorhouses and a mental hospital. The tremendous growth and development of Ermoupolis continued and until 1860 Syros was the most important commercial harbor in Greece. Together with commerce and ship building, construction and public works were also developed. The renowned[peacock term] Greek Steamship Company was founded in 1856.

The European architects (mainly Germans and Italians) and also Greeks who participated in the design and planning of Ermoupolis respected the classical and ancient Greek architecture and harmonized it with the romanticism of the West. Ermoupoli enjoys the greatest[peacock term] density in the neoclassical history of architecture. The prosperity of Syros was connected with an important[peacock term] development of social and cultural life. The evolutionary cycle was completed with the creation of the first industrial units during the decade of 1860–70. A period of decline then followed, as sailing gave way to steam, the importance of the geographical situation of the island was reduced and Piraeus harbor finally took the predominant position in Greece.

Beginning at the end of the 19th century and for several decades, a temporary economic recovery took place, due to the development of the textile industry (“Foustanos-Karellas-Velissaropoulos & Co”). The Second World War reduced Syros’ economic development, as was the case for every economic center in Greece. However, already since the 1980s, along with the generalized economic recovery and the rise of the living standards in Greece, elements of improvement appeared with tourism as its central axis.

At the same time, the re-opening of the Neorion shipyards, as well as a number of other activities, indicate that Syros is on an upward trend. Ermoupoli today has 7 elementary schools, 2 junior high schools, 2 high schools, 2 technical schools and the Aegean University with a department of Fine Arts and system design, with a proposed future addition in Applied Arts and Visual Arts. The Syros Island National Airport, the Aegean casino, the frequent passenger boat transportation system and all other modern amenities help to attract many domestic and foreign tourists to the island all year round.

Religion

As in the rest of Greece, Syros has Eastern Orthodox churches. Metamorphosis is the most important Orthodox church on the island, Kimisis tis Theotokou is also significant and noted for the fact that it hosts a masterpiece by painter El Greco. There is also an equal number of Roman Catholic churches on the island and some entirely Catholic villages; thus, it is one of the most significant places for Roman Catholicism in Greece.

SYROS IN GREEK MYTHOLOGY

All Greek islands are mentioned at some point in Greek mythology, Syros was said to be the birth place of the God Hermes, that is why the main town of Syros was called Hermoupoli (Hermes + polis, which means town in the Greek language). Many poets and authors have rewritten the myths so some others say that Hermes was born in Arkadia.

HERMES

Hermes is the great messenger of the gods in Greek mythology and additionally a guide to the Underworld. An Olympian god, he is also the patron of boundaries and of the travelers who cross them, of shepherds and cowherds, of the cunning of thieves, of orators and wit, of literature and poets, of athletics and sports, of weights and measures, of invention, and of commerce in general. His symbols include the tortoise, the rooster, the winged sandals, the winged hat, and the caduceus.

In the Roman adaptation of the Greek religion, Hermes was identified with the Roman god Mercury, who, though inherited from the Etruscans, developed many similar characteristics, such as being the patron of commerce.

The Homeric hymn to Hermes invokes him as the one “of many shifts (polytropos), blandly cunning, a robber, a cattle driver, a bringer of dreams, a watcher by night, a thief at the gates, one who was soon to show forth wonderful deeds among the deathless gods.”

He protects and takes care of all the travelers, miscreants, harlots, old crones and thieves that pray to him or cross his path. He is athletic and is always looking out for runners, or any athletes with injuries who need his help.

Hermes is a messenger from the gods to humans, sharing this role with Iris. An interpreter who bridges the boundaries with strangers is a hermeneus. Hermes gives us our word “hermeneutics”, the study and theory of interpretation. In Greek a lucky find was a hermaion. Hermes delivered messages from Olympus to the mortal world. He wears shoes with wings on them and uses them to fly freely between the mortal and immortal world. Hermes was the second youngest of the Olympian gods, being born before Dionysus.

Hermes, as an inventor of fire, is a parallel of the Titan, Prometheus. In addition to the lyre, Hermes was believed to have invented many types of racing and the sports of wrestling and boxing, and therefore was a patron of athletes.

According to prominent folklorist Yeleazar Meletinsky, Hermes is a deified trickster. Hermes also served as a psychopomp, or an escort for the dead to help them find their way to the afterlife (the Underworld in the Greek myths). In many Greek myths, Hermes was depicted as the only god besides Hades, Persephone, Hecate, and Thanatos who could enter and leave the Underworld without hindrance.

Hermes often helped travelers have a safe and easy journey. Many Greeks would sacrifice to Hermes before any trip.

In the fully-developed Olympian pantheon, Hermes was the son of Zeus and the Pleiade Maia, a daughter of the Titan Atlas. Hermes’ symbols were the rooster and the tortoise, and he can be recognized by his purse or pouch, winged sandals, winged cap, and the herald’s staff, the kerykeion. The night he was born he slipped away from Maia and stole his elder brother Apollo’s cattle.

7. Rent a car on Syros

We cooperate with a couple of rent car agencies on the island of Syros.

Cars can be delivered to the port or to your hotel and be picked up again there, too.

Insurance is usually third party but full car insurance is also available upon request. The vehicles are rented out for a minimum time of 24 hours and prices are negotiable.

It is best to pre-book a car as it’s not easy to find what you are looking for in the high season on Syros.

We also have three types of automatic cars, these are:

  • Hyundai accent
  • Jeep terios
  • Grand Cherokee

Here is a list of companies that rent cars and motorbikes on Syros

COMPANY NAME TYPE OF BUSINESS LOCATION TELEPHONE NUMBER
Syros Rent a car / motorbike Ermoupoli +30 22810 83777
Gaviotis Rent a car / motorbike Ermoupoli +30 22810 86610
Smart Rent a car / motorbike Kini +30 22810 71171
Road runner Rent a car / motorbike Vari +30 22810 61313
Galissas Rent a car / motorbike Galissas +30 22810 42942

8. Useful information about Syros island

map of Syros Greece

map of Syros Greece

Syra – or other wise known as Syros – is the biggest in population among the Cyclades (19,870 inhabitants – 2011 census). It is the eleventh biggest Cycladic island, being about 24 square kms in size and having maximum length of 22,5 kms. Its position is central among the Cyclades. It is a hilly island with small valleys and its highest peak (Pirgos) is 442 m.

The soil is mostly rocky and infertile and there are steep slopes and narrow gullies in the north; still, the surface is less uneven in the south and there are more cultivated areas there as well as inland patches with enough vegetation. The coastline is jagged with enough leeward and safe bays, the worth-mentioning ones being those of Finikas in the southwest and of Hermoupolis in the east. Smaller ones are those of Vari, Galissas, Kini, Delfini, Grammata.

Apart from the solid mass of buildings of Hermoupolis and Ano Syra on the eastern coastline, the island is scattered with inland and seaside settlements in the south as well as a great number of farmhouses – amphitheatrically built on hillsides – in the north.

Hermoupolis, the capital of the island and of the Cycladic complex, is the only urban area in the islandic complex with well-organised Social and Financial services and numbers 13,030 inhabitants.

Ano Syra, the second municipality on the island, is situated on the conic hill rising behind Hermoupolis and numbers 1,022 inhabitants. The whole municipal area (which includes the northern part of the island – with the settlements of Episkopio, Alithini, Malia and Kini as well as the nowadays uninhabited Yiaros island with an area of 17 sq. km) numbers 1,652 inhabitants. The rest of the population lives in the villages in the south.

The climate on the island, mild and temperate, is dry Mediterranean with periods of low or high humidity depending on the particular geo-morphological conditions of each territory.

Geologically, according to the prevailing scientific version, the island was part of the bottom of the sea millions of years ago. Rocks on the island come mainly from sea sediments and, in a smaller percentage, are products of volcanic action.

Over the long period of time that these rocks were part of the sea bottom they were subjected to powerful earth crust movements that resulted in the lifting of the rock layers and the formation of depressions on the ground. The kinds of rocks found on the island – mainly marble and schist – were formed through a long series of transformations that took place in two periods, 45 and 25 millions years ago respectively.

Later, vertical tectonic movements – common in the whole Aegean Sea area – caused part of the land to submerge, so forming the island as we see it nowadays.

Some minerals were found in various parts of Syros (Agios Dimitrios, Azolimnos, Abela, Komito e.t.c.) containing iron oxides and sulphur and were extracted in the first decades of this century.

Until last century (before water pumps were established) there were lots of springs on the island, most of them having run dry nowadays due to underground water level drop. Nevertheless, in many areas water is drawn nowadays from 200 m under the sea level! Remarkable though it may seem this water resource was formed some thousands of years ago in the Ice Age when the sea level was hundreds of meters lower than today.

Syros, despite its limited vegetation and the excessive “development” of the countryside, still has areas with a great variety of rare Mediterranean plants and herbs. Here are two of the most important:

– Alonida (Alhagi Maurorum), mentioned by the traveler and botanist Tournefort in 1700, contains a laxative. Its juice reminds of honey and, when dried, forms a kind of manna. The above mentioned traveler first saw this plant “along the seashore, near the harbor” (which was empty then).

– Three species of Crocuses (Zafora) can be found on the island. One of them (Crocus Tournefortii) is indigenous of Syros, found nowhere else. Samples of this plant, found in Ai Thanassis close to the Ano Syra Fountain, near Ai Dimitrios (northern town limits) and in Megas Yialos, are exhibited in Goulandris Natural History Museum.

FERRY INFORMATION FOR SYROS ISLAND

Syros ferries Cyclades Greece

Syros ferries Cyclades Greece

Syros has a small airport but travelling by ferry is more popular, cheaper, easier and pleasant.  You can get to all the near-by Aegean islands by getting a ferry from the main port of Syros.
You will be surprised at the amount of ferries arriving and departing from Syros per day.

As well as the normal ferries there are hydrofoils (so-called “Seajets”; no transportation of cars, motorbikes possible) and high-speed catamarans (“Highspeed”) that take you to your destination in half the time but the ticket costs double the price of a usual ferry (i.e. Blue Star Ferries). The ferries are now quite reliable and with their comfortable and modern lounges and decks you should have a very pleasant journey to your destination.

 

RENT A CAR OR MOTORBIKE ON SYROS ISLAND

COMPANY NAME TYPE OF BUSINESS LOCATION TELEPHONE NUMBER
Syros Rent a car / motorbike Ermoupoli +30 22810 83777
Gaviotis Rent a car / motorbike Ermoupoli +30 22810 86610
Smart Rent a car / motorbike Kini +30 22810 71171
Road runner Rent a car / motorbike Vari +30 22810 61313
Galissas Rent a car / motorbike Galissas +30 22810 42942

 

USEFUL TELEPHONE NUMBERS ON SYROS

Main police station on Syros +30 22810 82620 / +30 22810
Port Police on Syros +30 22810 88888
Hospital / Health center on Syros +30 22810 86666 / +30 22810 82440
Fire department on Syros +30 22810 87383
Tourist information office on Syros +30 22810
Tourist police on Syros +30 22810
Travel agency on Syros +30 22810
Taxi station on Syros +30 22810 84222/ +30 22810 86222
Bus station on Syros +30 22810 82575
Airplane information on Syros / Airport +30 22810 87025 / +30 22810 81900
Lawyer on Syros +30 22810
Municipality on Syros +30 22810
Taxation office on Syros +30 22810
Post office on Syros +30 22810 82590
Water company (faults) +30 22810
Electricity company (faults) +30 22810
Telephone company (faults) +30 22810
Dentist on Syros +30 22810
Private doctor on Syros +30 22810
Children’s doctor on Syros +30 22810