Welcome to Syros, the ''sovereign'' island of the Aegean, situated at the very centre of the country, within the Cycladic complex of islands. With a unique architecture, the buildings of Syros leave no one indifferent, to reflect its deep history and past wealth. With museums, historic theatres, astonishing churches, wonderful sandy beaches and traditional villages, several hiking tours and caves, Syros is an unforgettable island.
Visit the capital city Ermoupolis and walk around the stone paved streets to admire striking buildings, traditional mansions, museums and churches, as well as Ano Syros with its medieval settlement, churches monasteries and museums. Being the homeland of Vamvakaris, a leading composer to set the foundations of the Greek music, the island is a vibrant place to host several cultural events. Having a large variety of luxury hotels, spa hotels and conference facilities, the island of Syros is a top congresses and conventions destination to combine business and pleasure on a wonderful way.
Relaxed and fun holidays across the wonderful sandy beaches of the island fully equipped with sports facilities and a diving centre, numerous hiking routes and caves for the nature lovers to explore as well as a number of churches and monasteries for religious tourists, along with a casino, Syros has a lot to offer, satisfying every visitor.
Syros can be accessed by sea or air. The airport of Syros links with Athens with regular flights. The port of Syros links with the mainland of Greece through the ports of Piraeus, Lavrio and Rafina, also following boat routes to connect the island with other Cycladic and Dodecanese island such as Andros, Tinos, Mykonoss, Naxos, Paros, Serifos, Kythnos, Kea, Astypalea, Patmos and Rhodes. Local bus services offer a good transportation network to ease the exploration of the island.
The town of Ermoupolis and the capital of the Cyclades is a magnificent site itself and one of the most architecturally fascinating ports in the Mediterranean, an open air museum with some of the most beautiful and historical buildings across the country, a well preserved classic city. It is one of the most cosmopolitan towns in the Greek islands, heavy in culture, charmed with countless neo-classical mansions where the Christian and Catholic traditions infuse in a unique way. The heart of the whole island beats at the 19th century Miaouli Square, with the background of the City Hall, one of the biggest town halls in the country designed by the renowned architect Ernst Tsiller, with grand façade and a marvellous interior with decorative details of either marble or clay. Velissaropoulos Mansion vividly highlights the past sophistication of the upper class of Ermoupolis, featuring intricate ceiling drawings and wall murals as well as an elaborately decorated façade. The Mausoleum of Ermoupolis is an open-air museum with heyday and showcases highlights of the modern Greek sculpture, to indicate the high financial status of the eminent members of the local society. The rich cultural heritage of the island is highlighted at the Apollon Municipal Theater, to also signify the years of prosperity. Although the architectural style of the building is rather austere, the interior and especially its domed roof ornately decorated with images of great European composers and theatre writers, inevitably creates the feeling of being in a miniature of the Teatro alla Scala in Milan. From its foundation to date, the theatre host Greek and international operas as well as modern Greek theatre. The Customs House on the harbout, the oldest post-revolution High School in Greece to currently house the University of the Aegean, the Cyclades Painting Gallery, and old warehouse to host art collections, artistic events, exhibitions and performances. Additionally, the Municipal Library is housed in a marvellous building where valuable old books are places, while the Ermoupolis Historical Archive offers a vast collection of documents to illustrate the country's modern history dating back to 170 years. Religious tourists will also be astonished in this magical island to have the chance to visit grand churches of exceptional beauty and importance. The cruciform Basilica of Saint Nicolas and its imposing size with the light blue cupola is one of the first things to notice while approaching the island. Ionic pillars are situated on the entrance while a marble iconostasis impresses the ones getting in the interior. The Church of Metamorphosis and the Cathedral of the town is the oldest one in the island also to include a magnificent marble-carved iconostasis, an impressive dome and marble pillars. Finally the Church of Koimissi tis Theotokou, although being constructed only by stone and wood, it houses an amazing icon of Mother May by Domenicos Theotokopoulos (El Greco), one of its early works before inhabiting in Europe.
On the other hand, Ano Syros is a beautiful Venetian settlement is the catholic district of the island. Amphitheatrically built, with a fortification system consisting of houses built one on the top of the other, with stone walls, narrow streets, wooden balconies and many arches and arcades. Ano Syros offers amazing view of the Aegean. Here Cycladic architecture blends with the medieval influences of the island in charming way while wandering around the little car-free streets with whitewashed steps, charms every visitor. At the highest point of the city is situated the Catholic Cathedral of Saint George, founded in 1200. The church houses several 18th century statues of the saint by Italian artists, along with his icons and the mausoleum of the bishops. Near by is the Capuchins Monastery with the first monks to settle in Syros during the 17th century, as well as the Jesuits' Monastery to house a priceless library with thousands of books, parchments and historical documents and Saint John's church. Right behind Ano Syros is the orthodox church of Saint Athanassios situated in a verdant landscape with plane trees to offer shady spots. The unique characteristic of this church is the springs supplying the quarter with drinking water. Finally in Ano Syros, one can find Archives of the Catholic Diocese with the 16th century manuscript collection , along with Ano Syros Municipality Archive to provide lots of interesting information on the island's history.
SIGHTSEEING & MONUMENTS
The Archaeological Museum of Syros is one of the oldest museums in Greece founded in 1835, housed at the Ermoupoli's City Hall. The museum exhibits pre historic and classic era finds and collections from excavations at the walled Kastri settlement and the Chalandriani cemetery as well as other Cycladic islands, to include marble art, pottery and metal artefacts. Furthermore, sculptures, inscriptions and sepulchral stones from the Hellenistic and Roman era are exhibited along with a 22nd Dynasty Egyptian statuette. Close to Miaouli square, the archaeology lovers can find the Cycladic Museum of the city to present a vigorous collection Cycladic art initially found locally or inother islands in the Cyclades.
Although the industrial revolution never actually occured in Greece, Syros due to its conquerors had an intense industrial and commercial activity brightly reflecting on the Industrial Museum in Ermoupolis. Among the neoclassic mansions of the city, industrial chimneys, shipyard scaffolding, cranes and trailers appear along with three buildings, the former pallet factory, the tannery, the dyeworks and a Weaving Mill to house the museum. Exhibiting not only industrial equipment, raw material, final products and machinery related to textile, tannery, glassworks, wood factories, food processing and ship building, the museum also highlights with high tech means the successful commercial past of the island.
In Ano Syros, the admirers of Greek syrtaki will find a museum honouring the local troubadour Markos Vamvakaris. Being one of the leading Greek composers of traditional ''rebetika songs'' and a bouzouki master, he wrote one of the most popular musical landmarks of Greece, ''Fragosyriani'' The museum housed in an old traditional house, Vamvakaris Museum exhibits his personal belongings, along with lyrics, manuscripts, photos and instruments, conferred by his family.
THINGS TO DO
Despite the small size of the island, a range of activities are available for the visitors who enjoy sea related sports of whish to follow eco touristic routes. The beach of Galisss offers water sports and beach soccer while in Posidonia there is a fully organized diving center. Other excellent sandy beaches on the west coast of the island with tourist amenities are Kini, Finikas, while Arneos is a wonderful remote bay. The southwest side of the Syros is the popular beach of Azolymnos, and close by the fine sand beaches of Mega Gialos, and Vari. It is worth mentioning that the beauty of the island's beaches does not reflect to their reputation, only because they have been poorly advertised abroad. Nature lovers can follow one of the 16 mapped hiking tours to enjoy the wonderful landscapes of the island. Caving is also available in the island at Ferekydi Caves located in Alithini and further north to Plati Vouni. Named after the philosopher who according to tradition he was settled here on the 6th century B.C., worth the visit for the sport's enthusiasts. Finally the local casino housed in two neoclassical buildings linked with an underground tunnel, offers entertainment to gamblers
Influenced by the various populations to settle in the island through the years, along with the locally produced delicacies and the touristic development of the island, Syros is a gastronomic destination to satisfy all appetites. The local breeding of cows results exceptional dishes while the milk is used for the production of ''San Michalis'' gruyere cheese, a supreme Greek delicacy. Produced by the local Cooperative and after going through much successive fermentation, the final hard yellow matured cheese can be even compared to parmesan. Traditional Greek cooking and plenty of seafood, along with locally produced wine are widely available to local taverns or high class restaurants, while the two distinctive sweets characterizing Syros confectionery are available in shops and street peddlers. Syros loukoumi (Turkish Delight), in various flavours, brought to the island by the Minor Asia refugees is of exceptional taste here due to the local well water used. Chalvadopita on the other hand is a lot harder to be found around Greece, consisting of two thin wafers filled with a mix of meringue, sugar, honey, and fresh almonds, definitely worth a try.
USEFUL TELEPHONE NUMBERS
Airport of Siros: +30 22810 81900
Port Authority of Siros: +30 22810 88888
Siros Bus Services: +30 22810 82575
Siros Police: +30 22810 96100
Siros Tourist Police: +30 22810 22610
Siros Hospital: +30 28210 81811
Industrial Museum of Syros: +30 22810 81243 / 84762