Discovering Syros, an Overlooked Greek Island
It’s true, I’m in love. In love with Syros, an island that is somewhat hidden, yet is an important centre of the Cyclades. Syros is located in the Aegean Sea, 78 nautical miles south-east of Athens. I arrived by boat in Ermoupoli, the island’s capital. Ermoupoli was founded in 1822 and has grown into a bustling town. It has an affluent past – there are many impressive neoclassical buildings and mansions adorning its streets. A commercial centre, Ermoupoli got its name from Hermes, the god of trade. It continues to be an important town and serves as the capital of the Cycladic islands. Beachgoers are sure to be pleased by Galissas and Kini beaches, on the other side of Syros.
As the boat approached the port, the first thing I noticed about Ermoupoli was the way the buildings rise up along the hillside. From the port at sea level, the buildings steadily rise upwards. Staircases lead up from the port area into the streets above. In amongst the colourful buildings, the Ermoupolis City Hall is visible, imposing as it dominates Miaouli Square. It’s a beautiful neoclassical building with eye-catching architecture. Nearby, Saint Nicholas church is a sight to see, dominating the cityscape, its bright blue dome standing out. A short uphill walk will get you there to admire the sprawling Byzantine church. Completed in 1870, it is an extravagant sight. There are two stories, marble belltowers, a marble staircase and opulent decorations.
I soon saw what I was looking for; the ocean was visible down a street to the right. I headed in that direction, finding a perfect vantage point to welcome the first rays of sunlight, which were already visible on the horizon.
I wanted to see Ermoupoli in the early light, catching the first rays of the rising sun. I got up early and made my way through the silent streets. My hotel was just a few streets away from the harbour, very conveniently placed and in amongst the delightful shopping streets and narrow alleyways. A few shops were opening their doors and workers were setting up, preparing for their first breakfast diners. I smelled the delicious scent of freshly baked bread as I passed a bakery and made my way down to the harbour.
I soon saw what I was looking for; the ocean was visible down a street to the right. I headed in that direction, finding a perfect vantage point to welcome the first rays of sunlight, which were already visible on the horizon. Here, the sea was wild, spraying up against the rocks and wall. I stayed close to enjoy the power of the waves as I watched the sun rise. Too close as I discovered; the spray came up over the wall next to where I stood and gave me a salty sea shower!
Syros is somewhat overshadowed by the popularity of islands such as Mykonos, Santorini and Naxos, but important in its own right as the capital of the Cycladic island region.
The colours against the sky were breathtaking: pink and purple with a light orange close to the glowing orb of the sun. Making the experience complete was the sound of the waves as they broke against the rocks. Where I stood, there was no-one around. I stood still, taking in the majestic sunrise. A lone fishing boat was on the water, illuminated by the sun rising on the horizon. As the sun rose steadily, the buildings were bathed in a yellow glow.
From the harbour, side streets lead into delightful alleys, stairs lead higher into the city of Ermoupoli, as it is built up onto the hills. It’s a maze of streets ready to be discovered. Colourful, historic buildings make up this cityscape. Every 30 minutes, church bells chime to indicate the hour. It’s a small but bustling town, with plenty of shops, places to eat and museums.
I look forward to my next visit to see more of what this beautiful island has to offer. I have yet to discover all of Syros’ beauty, but what I have seen has me craving more. Syros is somewhat overshadowed by the popularity of islands such as Mykonos, Santorini and Naxos, but important in its own right as the capital of the Cycladic island region. An island filled with fantastic views, lively towns and some of the best beaches in the region.