Extraordinary history, an island of arts and architecture, fascinating diversity, and internationally acclaimed festivals
Syros is a Greek island in the Cyclades, in the Aegean Sea. It was first inhabited in the prehistoric times (4000 BC) and later in the Cycladic period (3000 BC). The first settlers in the history of Syros were the Phoenicians who moved around the Cyclades and traces of ancient settlements from the 7th century BC were found in the hill of Agia Pakous, in Galissas and west of Ermoupolis. During the 6th century, Syros was inhabited by the Samians, one of whom was the great philosopher Ferekidis, who later became the teacher of Pythagoras. Ancient Ermoupolis was built by the Ionians and was later settled by the Persians, Romans, Franks, and Turks, who left their cultural traces.
During the Roman years the present Ermoupolis witnessed a great economic development, however, the Venetians played a major role in the cultural development of the island making Syros an important trade center of the Eastern Mediterranean. The constant pirate invasions though forced the inhabitants of Syros to move the capital on top of the hill, where today lies the medieval settlement of Ano Syros, with the church of Saint Georgio.
When the French conquered the island, in the 17th century, Syros was inhabited by a great number of Catholics, the known capuchins who founded a small monastery that remains active to this day. The island flourished greatly following the Greek revolution in 1821, when a massive wave of emigrants from Psara, Chios, Crete, and Minor Asia settled in Syros using the island as the center of their trading and maritime activities. This was a huge economic boost for Syros and at the same time, the wealthy families of Syros took the initiative to build numerous buildings, like schools and theatres. The prosperous period lasted until the early 20th century with the arrival of the German troops to Syros.
Ermoupoli is the capital of the island with elementary schools, junior and high schools, technical schools and the Aegean University (Πανεπιστήμιο Αιγαίου). The Syros Island National Airport, the Aegean casino, the frequent passenger ferry schedule and the hospital make this an all year round island for visitors.
The capital of Syros as well as of the insular complex of the Cyclades exudes an aura of neoclassical romance harmoniously combining elements from ancient Greece and Western Europe. Visitors are welcome to follow the narrow streets through the picturesque neighborhoods, discover images and experiences of a bygone era and encounter monuments along with neoclassical buildings from the imperious history. From the impressive Town Hall in Miaouli square, inspired by Ernest Ziller and the palaces of Troy, the Apollon Theater which is a miniature of Scala di Milano, the mansions in the charming area of Vaporia, the municipal library and the remarkable museums of the island to the Temple of the resurrection and other beautiful Orthodox and Catholic churches, the town of Hermoupolis constitutes much more than a beautiful island capital, it constitutes an open-air museum worth exploring from side to side.It is a cosmopolitan capital with its own special character, a vibrant city buzzing with life throughout the year. The Syros Culture festival constitutes one of the island’s main cultural institutions and a benchmark for its guests. It is a festival held each year during the summer giving an even more impressive cultural extension to the island.
Galissas is the most popular tourist resort of Syros, located in a protected bay on the west coast of the island. It includes an area of 7700 acres together with Danakos, a small and quiet farming settlement, the two villages together numbering 500 inhabitants. The people of Galissas engage in farming, agriculture, commerce and tourism. The beach of Galissas is one of the nicest and largest beaches of Syros with sunbeds, umbrellas and trees. Water is shalow and very clean. Beautiful tavernas where you can have wonderful traditional Greek food but more restaurants to choose from, a couple of mini markets and there are several acccommodations on and around the beach. The distance to the capital Ermoupolis is about 7 kilometers. The sandy beach of Galissas is situated in an "enclosed" bay with clear and calm waters and it is shallow, so safe for small children. Galissas Beach is also a good place to watch the sunsets.