The finesse of the island comes from its rich history that is lost in the mists of time. The capital of the Cyclades is different from the rest. Here tradition coexists with the cosmopolitan atmosphere, the medieval Cycladic charm with the neoclassical architecture, the Greek Orthodox legacy with the Roman Catholic spirit, glamorous beaches alternate with picturesque coves.
1822 was a milestone in the long history of the island. Hermoupolis was created during the Greek Revolution against the Ottoman occupation, when Syros became the perfect shelter for the Greeks who were persecuted. The newcomers rapidly established their town as a mighty crossroads for international commerce linking West and East. Hermoupolis became the first and most powerful shipping and international trade center of the newly founded state of Greece with active economic and cultural life. The affluent and cultivated citizens of Hermoupolis assigned to the greatest architects of Europe to build a town in glorification of artistic and neoclassical architectural beauty. The outcome is a miracle of romantic neoclassicism in the heart of the Aegean. Magnificent buildings with marble fittings, stunning mansions with imposing pediments, stately houses with ornate corbels, splendid public buildings and an excellent urban design. At the same time they provided their town with cultural magnificence that was unprecedented for its time.
It is crystal clear that the people of Syros preserved their capital town. Hermoupolis is a museum of architecture with the largest concentration of neoclassical buildings in Greece. Unaffected by external interventions, they carry their romantic neoclassical character; the Municipal Theater of Apollo, inspired by 4 Italian models including the La Scala of Milan, the Cultural Center next to the Town Hall, once the house of Club Hellas of the mighty. Or the magnificent neoclassical mansions in Vaporia that rise above the sea as if preparing to set sail and they are built of marble with marble decorations dominating the facades, exquisite interiors with ornamented ceilings, marble stairways and patios.
On the opposite hill, the dazzling minimalistic beauty of Ano Syros tells a different story. The high-perched Cycladic citadel of the late Byzantine era is a labyrinth of small houses built close together, narrow cobbled streets and covered passageways that lead to the top where the Catholic Cathedral of Saint George is located.
The southern part of Syros with the seaside resorts and organized beaches showcases all the reasons why the Cyclades are the favorite destination of millions of visitors from all over the world. Cosmopolitan beaches such as Agathopes and Galissas with modern cafes, restaurants and tavernas will satisfy your desire to relax on a sun lounger and sip your coffee or cocktail. Megas Gialos, Vari, Azolimnos and Kini are more for families, while Finikas is ideal for water sports or to moor your boat in the marina there. Low-key, yet popular, beaches are Komito, Ambela, Achladi, Delfini, Lotos and Kokkina. All are favorites of the locals with a beach bar or cafe-restaurant each. Craving for a change of scenery? Board one of the boats sailing from Kini to the secluded beaches of Aetos, Lia, Varvaroussa, Marmari, Gria Spilia and Grammata.
A tour to charming villages, such as the Episkopeio village with magnificent 19th century manors, Poseidonia where mansions of another era are adorned with impressive towers and Chroussa with beautiful villas from the past, luscious gardens and picturesque chapels will reveal another layer of Syros.
A car ride to the northernmost point of the island will take you to the prehistoric settlements of Chalandriani and Kastri. Built on this steep slope overlooking the sea, Kastri, the prehistoric settlement from the later years of the Early Cycladic period, stood high up there to protect the inhabitants from invaders. At a distance of about 45 minutes you’ll find Chalandriani, one of the most important archaeological sites within the Cyclades as a prehistoric acropolis dating back to the 3rd millennium BC. Both sites are of major value to archaeologists as the excavations brought to light important findings of the Early Cycladic culture and art.
How do you really get to know a place? The people, the traditions, the lifestyle? The expedition starts from the gastronomy and the cuisine of Syros is a delicious journey of flavors. From the famous Syros Loukoumi and Chalvadopita, to the celebrated caper and local fennel-spiced sausage, the chefs’ “must have” San Michalis cheese, the fennel pie, sun-dried tomatoes and the amazing thyme honey, all exude the energy of this Cycladic island bite-by-bite. Discover what Syros tastes like through a journey on the paths of local gastronomy!