Capital of the Aegean Sea
the "Queen of the Cyclades," is the capital of the
island of Syros, 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.
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.
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
Syros is the second town of the Island and was built by
the Venetians at the beginning of the 13th century on the
hill of San Giorgio, north-west of Ermoupolis. Ano Syros
maintains its enchanting medieval atmosphere. Innumerable
steps between narrow streets and houses with coloured doors
lead you to the top of the town, which makes for some
medieval settlement of Ano Syros is not accessible by car,
the town is serviced mostly by marble steps. The distance
from the harbour up to the main entry point of the town is
approximately 3500 metres. The Catholic basilica of San
Giorgio dominates Ano Syros. The church was constructed
during the 13th century. From here the visitor enjoys a
panoramic view of the neighbouring islands of Tinos,
Delos, Mykonos, Paros and Naxos.
Roman times the capital of Syros was situated in the area
of contemporary Ermoupolis. At the end of ancient times,
the barbaric raids and the plague of piracy, which had
scourged the Aegean for many centuries, led Syros to decline.
In the Byzantine years Syros constituted together with the
rest of the Cycladic islands, part of the Aegean Dominion.
After the overthrow of the Byzantium by the Venetian/Francs
in 1204, Syros came under Venetian domination and was included
in the Ducat of the Aegean.
mid-16th century, the Ottoman fleet occupied the island and
the Duchy fell apart. However, negotiations of the local
authorities with the Ottomans gave the Cycladic islands
substantial privileges, such as the reduction of taxation
and religious freedom.
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. Due to its crucial
geographical position, Syros became known as a maritime
In 1822-1865 Ermoupolis 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 Apollo Theater 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 more are from that era.
Because of the Venetian domination from the Middle Ages
onwards, the islanders were once exclusively Roman Catholic.
However, due to immigration from other islands, Catholics
now constitute some 40% of the population. The great majority
of the population are Greek Orthodox. They live side by side
very peacefully. Intermarriage between denominations is very
common in Syros.
Greek Fight for Independence
took no part in the Greek revolt of 1821, but was inundated
with refugees from other parts of Greece. With the return to
peace and tranquility, Syros became known as a cross-roads in
the Aegean and as an international commercial center linking
Western Europe and the Mediterranean Sea to the East. In 1822
began the construction of the first buildings and in 1824 the
first Orthodox Church Metamorphosis and the largest Greek
Sanatorium was constructed.
Excerpted and adapted from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Syros.