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Ermoupolis, Syros Island

Hermoupolis is the town that was born in the fire and turbulence of the Greek Revolution of 1821. Refugees from the collapsed settlements of the Aegean islands and the coast of Asia Minor, persecuted by the Ottomans found here a shelter and a safe place to settle. Not very rich in resources, but endowed with broad knowledge and experience in commerce, in transports and in industry, these thousands of people stimulated the dynamic growth of this area which became their new home and led it to prosperity and to the flourishing of culture and social life.

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Soon enough the town was dedicated to Hermes, the ancient god of commerce after whom it was named (“Hermoupolis” means “the town of Hermes”) and by mid-19th century it had already become the most important economic commercial, maritime and cultural center of the Greeks. It is here that in first time on independent Greek territory was formed a distinct class of bourgeois which showed its dynamism not only in economic activities but also in culture and intellectual life. It is in this period that the town was decorated with a lot of important public buildings, churches, squares, theaters, workshops, industries and with excellent private mansions. In this way, it became famous in Europe and attracted a lot of visitors who came from their home countries to see this small but so prosperous and elegant town. This fame and the tourist interest do last until nowadays and many people pass from the island to see Hermoupolis, this living Museum of a magnificent recent past.

Today Hermoupolis is a small modern town, the capital and seat of the Prefecture of Cyclades and of the Regional Administration of South Cyclades; it is again the economic and transport center for the entire Aegean.

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Once in Hermoupolis, the visitor has a lot to see and more to learn. The town is amphitheatrically arranged, starting from the port and climbing on the two hills up to Ano Syros. The pride of this noble town, recalling a prosperous town of Italy in the 18th and 19th centuries, is the Miaoulis Square. Here you will see the terrace of Marble serving for music events, designed by the Greek sculptor Vitalis, and the Town Hall designed by the famous architect Ernest Ziller. On the hilltop, the Church of Anastassi with its blue dome, dedicated to the Resurrection of Christ, crowns the town.

Apart from this nice central square, where it is also situated the Cultural Center of the town, the visitor should visit the excellent restored theater “Apollon”. Of course, during the long strolling about the town, the visitor should not miss to visit the numerous magnificent churches, both Catholic and Orthodox. The imposing church of Aghios Nicolaos Plousios (“St. Nicolas the Rich”) made of marble, has been constructed in the 19th century thanks to the donation of wealthy people of the island; the church of Koimissi, dedicated to the Assumption of Virgin Mary, has an excellent icon, work of El Greco; the cemetery and its church, dedicated to Aghios Georgios (St. George) have impressive burial monuments, the church of Metamorphosis, dedicated to the Transfiguration of Jesus Christ, is the cathedral of the town. And, apart from those there are numerous other churches worth seeing.

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At the waterfront it is worth seeing the statue of Nike (Victory), in honor of the Greek Resistance of the period 1941-1944 and in front of the church of Aghios Nicolaos the Monument in honor of the Unburied Fighter, a sculpture made by the well known Greek sculptor Vitalis in 1889. And, of course, you should not miss to go for a walk in the quarter of Vaporia (meaning “ships” in Greek), at the northern part of the town. It is the quarter of the noble and wealthy people of Hermoupolis, with narrow streets and full of neoclassic style buildings and wonderful mansions, many of them facing the open sea and reminding to the visitors of today the prosperity and the power that these people used to have in the past.

Don’t miss to visit the very interesting Archaeological Museum of the town, the Museum of Cycladic Art, housed in the Cultural Center and the unique Industrial Museum, where there have been collected all the remains and of the industrial growth of the 19th century. The list of the worth seeing buildings is endless; let’s state only a few more as the buildings of the Prefecture and of the Regional Administration of Southern Aegean, the National Bank of Greece, the building of the Cultural Association “Lykeio ton Ellinidon” (the Lyceum of Greek Women), the Art Gallery of Cyclades, the Customs’ House, the building of the School of Commercial Navy and a lot more which you will discover strolling about this wonderful town.

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Finally, the visitor should not miss to visit the semi –ruined Lazaretta, the old pest house, situated off the town at the southern end of the bay.

In short distance from the town, at the nearby inland settlement of Episkopio, some 4 kilometers southwester to Hermoupolis, don’t miss to visit “Kokkinospito” (“the red house in Greek), an almost ruined house, haunted according to the local tradition, which inspired the well known Greek author M. Karagatsis in one of his romances.

The 12.000 permanent residents of the actual town should be – and really are – very proud of their town and keep trying in making it better known. Every summer the Municipality of Hermoupolis organizes a series of cultural activities, the “Hermopoulia” which attract many people with the variety of events which cover almost all arts. The actual city has also a Casino, housed in an excellent building of neoclassic style.

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The numerous visitors will have a lot of alternatives for accommodation of any level and will enjoy gorgeous food, both of the local and international cooking in many traditional taverns and modern restaurants. Several bars and clubs promise interesting amusement and hot nightlife, especially in summer.

In case of emergence all kind of services are available in Hermoupolis which, among others, has also a modern General Hospital.

Access to the town is possible by ship from Piraeus and from the neighboring islands and by airplane from Athens and in summer from other towns of Greece, as well as from various European cities by charter flights.
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