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If unspoilt beaches, picturesque fishing villages and an absence of tourism is your idea of a perfect Greek island, then come and visit Syros. This small island covering around 84 sq km is the capital of the Cyclades, a group of islands in the Aegean Sea southeast of Athens.
The island’s vibrant capital, the largest city in the Cyclades, is the 19th-century Ermoupoli. Named after Hermes, the god of commerce, it was once the busiest port city in Greece and one of the country’s most important commercial centres.
Today, you can see evidence of the city’s former shipping wealth in its magnificent neoclassical mansions and grand 19th-century town hall in the main square, the palm-shaded Miaouli. Lined with cafés, the square is also a great people-watching spot, as is the lively waterfront. Another major landmark, the historic Apollo theatre, also dates from the 19th century and is famous for its interior, modelled on Milan’s Teatro alla Scala.Read more
Ermoupoli’s twin hills, distinctively topped by two churches: the Catholic St Georgio and the blue-domed Greek Orthodox Anastasis , reflecting a history dominated by these religions. The capital was strongly Catholic before Greek Orthodox refugees fled here during Greece’s war of independence and now the population is almost equally divided between the two religions.
Perched on St Georgio’s hill above Ermoupoli is the charming medieval town on Ano-Syros, built by the Venetians and crowned with the Catholic church of St Georgio. Hundreds of steps lead up through impossibly narrow alleyways twisting past whitewashed houses, labyrinthine thoroughfares that are so slim, there’s no space for cars. At the top with superb views over the cerulean Aegean of the neighbouring islands of Tino, Delos, Paros and Naxos. Vorondadho, the Greek Orthodox quarter, is dominated by church of Anastasis.
Around the coastline are many attractive coves with secluded sandy beaches lapped by crystalline waters. Although it’s the main resort on Syros, Galissas is distinctly low key compared to its counterparts on other Greek islands. Just 5 km south of Ermoupoli, it has a seafront backed by traditional tavernas and bars. The small cove of Megas Gialos is 12 km from the capital and has a beach partly shaded by tamarisk trees. Just southwest of here is the quiet beach of Ampela, one of the smallest on Syros. The north of island is sparsely populated and wilder than the south. Around its coastline are remote beaches, accessible only by boat or footpath, such as Varvarousa and Marmari.