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Ano Syros, Syros Island

Ano (“upper”) Syros appears to the visitors small and wonderful, a town with long history and a lot of sightseeing. In fact it is a medieval town surviving up to now, laying on the hillside and crowned by the church of Aghios Georgios (St. George), situated at the top of the hill. It is the cathedral of the Catholic people of the island, who are numerous even today and who, following the local idiom that recalls the influence of the Italian language, use to call it “San Giorgi”.

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The town was established in the first years of the domination of the Francs on the island, when Marco Sanudo founded the Duchy of Paronaxia and took possession of Syros on behalf of the doge of Venice. In the 16th century when the island was occupied to the Ottomans, these latter had allowed the catholic population of the settlement to continue developing without disturbing them; the catholic residents were only charged with an annual tax for the Sultan. Today the settlement counts some 1100 permanent residents, the majority of them still following the catholic rite, and it offers a lot of sightseeing to the visitor.

Several accommodation facilities are available in the scenic settlement, where you will have many chances to taste gorgeous local dishes in the nice traditional taverns which also offer live music; the best and most famous example is the tavern where the famous popular composer and singer Marcos Vamvakaris, originated from this very place, used to play music and sing.

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Strolling around the narrow streets of the settlement is an experience full of excitement for the historic, architectural and folk interest the settlement presents. Perched on the hill, almost one onto the other, whitewashed and full of flowers and connected with long staircases, the houses present an excellent spectacle to the visitor.

Once at Ano Syros don’t miss to visit the numerous churches, most of them of the catholic rite. The most grandiose among them is of course Aghios Georgios or San Giorgi, the catholic cathedral situated on the top of the hill. The church was constructed in the medieval times and was restored in the 19th century. The most interesting feature is certainly the icon of Aghios Georgios who is presented to have killed the dragon, but not on horseback, as he is usually depicted in the tradition of Greek hagiography; the saint is accompanied by Ste. Anthousa. It is also worth visiting the churches of Aghia Varvara (Ste Barbara), Aghios Demetrios, Aghios Nicolaos ton Ptoxon (St. Nicolas of the Poor), dated in the 17th century, Aghia Triada (Holy Trinity), constructed in the early 18th century, Aghios Athanasios, situated within a steep gully and, finally, the small country church dedicated to Nativity.

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There are also several buildings of actual interest as the Center of Historic Studies of the Catholic Diocese, the Catholic monasteries of the Jesuits and of the Capuchins, the Town Hall, the Archives of Ano Syros, the Cultural Center and the Exhibition of Traditional Professions. You should also see the bust of Marcos Vamvacaris, situated in a small square, very close to the Museum dedicated to this important popular musician, composer and singer whose influence on modern Greek music has been more than considerable.

In the area around the town it is worth visiting the traditional village of Alithini (“the true one” in Greek) and the church of Aghia Paraskevi, situated a bit higher. In both places you will enjoy a breathtaking view of Ano Syros and of Hermoupolis below. Also, don’t miss to visit the cave of Ferekydes which, according to tradition, was the lodging of this important philosopher of the 6th century b.C.

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A series of cultural activities attracting many visitors are organized in summer by the Municipality of Ano Syros.

In case of any problem you should address to the corresponding services of Hermoupolis.

Access to the settlement by car is possible via a ring road, but the most popular way of going there is walking (and a bit of hiking), as the numerous staircases make access of cars impossible to the major part of the town. You will enter the settlement from three entrances, which still survive out of the seven entrances that the town used to have during the medieval times. Ano Syros is situated at a distance of some 3,5 kilometers far from the port.
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