There are at least 3 beaches nearby, only 1 of which is accessible by walking. The other 2 require a dinghy for access so we probably won't be visiting those. Our dinghy is stored upside down on the mizzen deck and that is probably where it will remain during our stay. There is a small supermarket, a nice bakery, a meat market and a produce market all within walking distance. And more than a half-dozen restaurants nearby. Everything one might want except a chandlery, and we have no need of anything boat related at the moment. Plus, there is a chandlery or 2 just a short bus ride away should a need arise.
|Blue domed church on hill|
|Drinks on the quay|
|Blue domed church on hill|
|Ermoupoulis town quay|
|Cousins horsing around|
Each of us enjoyed our little day visit to town. I had really wanted to see Ano Syros but we did not see a way to get up there. While waiting for our return bus we saw a small bus offering Island Tours but by then it was too late to go to Ano Syros. Guess this is just one of those things I will have to miss. Can't see everything.
Ano Syros is a centuries old Catholic settlement, rather than the usual Greek Orthodox. According to the tourist brochures, during the 6th century A.D., when piracy devastated commerce on Syros, the old coastal city fell into decline. A settlement which came to be known as Ano Syros was founded up on the hill of Mesovouni. Entrance to the settlement was through 7 Portares (large doors). The 7 Portares were closed each night for protection of the residents, making it like a walled city. Some of these doors are still in place. Supposedly there are beautiful views overlooking Ermoupoulis and the sea. Ano Syros was little influenced by the Ottoman Rule. The Catholic Diocese of San Georgios is on the highest point of the hill, including the Bishop's residence and offices and historical study center and archives. The Diocese's archives are on micro-film for those who wish to research. Next to San Yiorgis (St. George's) is the Santa Claras' Monastery, formerly the Jesuit Monastery 1743-2000. Throughout Ano Syros are picturesque small alleys, far too narrow for motorized vehicles. I regret we were unable to visit this place. But, hey, as I said earlier, we can't see it all.
Geography and history
Syros means "a rock cast into the sea." It is located nearly in the center of the Cyclades. From the hillsides on Syros one can see many of the surrounding Cyclades islands. Homer sang of Syros and praised the island's beauty and agricultural bounty. The hills we see around us appear rocky and barren, but the small valleys between the hills are filled with growing vegetables and fruit trees. The name Syros was first recorded in 6th century B.C.
The tourist brochure claims that the first inhabitants occupied this island around 2800 B.C. However, other literature claims that recently excavated human remains and artifacts date back to at least 4000 B.C. The current excavations have shed much light on the prehistoric period. The northeastern region being excavated includes many graves with their burial goods, ceramic vessels, stone compasses, statuettes, intact skeletons and ancient ruins, including the remains of a former Acropolis (fortified hilltop site) and watch tower.
During the 8th century B.C. the Phonecians arrived on the island. Then the island followed the typical history of the region: Persian Wars; 4th century B.C. ruled by Macedonia; 1st century B.C. ruled by Romans. The acme of civilization on Syros occurred during the Roman rule; then a severe decline followed. The island was always overshadowed by its eastern neighbor, Sacred Delos (where we hope to visit soon). Syros became almost unknown during the Christian and Byzatine periods. The traditional Greek mythological gods and demi-gods relinquished their places to Christ and His Church. During 7th and 8th century A.D. Syros was raided by Arab pirates, resulting in castrophe and the great plague.
Then the Venetians arrived; followed by the Ottomans (Turks). The island declined into extreme poverty. Thousands starved to death. Finally, in 1821 there was a revolution (under French protection); and the island became a refuge for persecuted Greeks fleeing from every corner of their struggling land. During this wave of immigrants the harbor town Hermoupolis was created, the commercial capital of Greece during the 19th century. Hermoupolis was named in homor of Hermes, considered by some to be the old Greek god of commerce. In 1861 the Greek Steamship Company opened its steam-powered foundry and dry dock. Syros succeeded in becoming the central marketplace of Greece, supplying merchandise throughout Greece as well as to Egypt, Syria and Turkey for more than 50 years. Then Athens replaced Syros for this title, and Syros again began to decline economically.
Today has seen a resugence of economy. More than half the population of all the Cyclades islands reside on the island of Syros. This has become a very popular place to own property. The shipyard and dry dock still operate. And resorts are blossoming all around the island. Tourism is very much alive and well in Syros.
BTW, just down the quay from us is a boat owned by a couple from Corpus Christi. They noticed our Texas flag flying beneath the port spreader. They are also flying a Texas flag. Again we notice that Texans fly their state flag on their yachts; whereas, very few people from other states bother to fly their state flags. These fellow Texans have very definitely taken the road less traveled. They purchased their Bavaria yacht new and had it delivered to Slovenia. (Wonder if that is outside the EU and therefore a way to avoid the ridiculously high VAT?) They picked it up in Slovenia and sailed down through the Suez Canal and into the Gulf of Aqaba. They lived in Jordan for several years and kept the boat there. They said the Gulf of Aqaba is very limiting in areas to sail. Basically, they could only sail 23 kilometers and turn around. One cannot sail into Israeli waters in the Gulf of Aqaba nor into Saudi Arabian waters. That leaves only 23 kilometers of Jordanian coast where they could sail. They have now left Jordan and are sailing the Greek isles, with plans to participate in the ARC this year. So they will be in the Caribbean in December. These are the only people we have ever met who have sailed in the Gulf of Aqaba.
|Shopping Queen is also DS Queen|
|Conquerer of the World|
As usual, click on any photo for a larger image.