Every Summer, since 2005, Omilo organizes Greek Language and Culture Courses on the Cycladic island of Syros. After all those years, the island feels like a second home to the Omilo team, as well as to many returning students.
The island has 20,000 inhabitants and during the summer, the population grows to 35,000.
It is possible to fly to Syros, from Athens airport, but most locals and visitors arrive by boat to the port of Hermoupolis.
In this article we will only write about Hermoupolis, but if you want to discover what else you can do or visit on the island of Syros, then click here for more information.
Hermoupolis / Ermoupoli
Hermoupolis is not only the capital of Syros island but also the capital of all the Cycladic islands, the South Aegean region.
The city was founded during the Greek Revolution in the 1820s, as an extension to the existing Ano Syros township, by refugees from other Greek islands because of the war with Turkey. More people moved to the island and founded the town of Ermoupoli, which rapidly became the leading port of Greece. Between 1822 and 1865, Ermoupoli was rebuilt in a Neoclassical style, merging Greek Classicism with elements of the Renaissance.
For Greek island standards, Hermoupolis is rather big. If you want to explore it on foot, you will need time. Whenever you visit Syros, we suggest you start with visiting the following places:
With the imposing statue of Andreas Miaoulis standing at its entrance and its towering palm trees, the square is a sight of exceptional beauty. It is one of the most remarkable 19th-century squares of Greece. Today, it’s location is in the heart of the city, so the perfect place for an evening stroll, drink or meeting point.
The square was initially named “Othonos Square” as a tribute to Otto, first King of Greece. In 1889, the square was given its present-day name of “Miaouli Square” during the official unveiling of the statue of Andreas Miaoulis standing in the square. (Andreas Miaoulis, (1769 – 1835), was an admiral and politician who commanded Greek naval forces during the Greek War of Independence (1821–1829)
The City Hall on the square is one of the largest city halls in Greece. It was founded in 1876 and designed by German architect Ernst Ziller. Apart from the municipal administration services, the City Hall also houses the Courts of Law, the Land Registry Office, the Archaeological Museum (early Cycladic and Byzantine exhibits) and the Historical Archive of the Cyclades
The square is used very often for events, concerts and dance performances. Around the square, you will find many bars, cafes and restaurants, as well as the beautiful outdoor summer cinema Pallas. It is a large courtyard surrounded by a wall and with lots of plants against the backdrop of neoclassical buildings.Every year, Cinema Pallas also takes part in the Syros International Film Festival, during the month of July.
The street along the square’s right side will take us to the Apollon Theater.
The Apollo Theatre
The Apollo Theater (also known as “La Piccola Scala”) is an important landmark and a symbol of Syros’ financial and cultural prosperity since the mid-19th century. Constructed between 1862-1864, it is the oldest opera house in Greece and the 11th oldest in Europe. It is widely believed that the Apollo Theater was modeled after the famous La Scala di Milano Opera House in Milan and the Teatro di San Carlo of Naples. The Apollo Theater played host to numerous Greek and Italian theatrical and operatic troupes, performing the most famous and popular plays, operas and operettas of their time.
Some history: The foundation of the theatre started in 1862 by the famous Italian architect P. Sampo, who worked then as a municipal architect in Hermoupolis. In October 1864 the opening of «Apollo» theatre was celebrated. It was considered the nicest of all Middle East theatres of the era (including Athens, Smyrni, Istanbul and Alexandria). Since 2005, The Apollo Theatre hosts the Festival of the Aegean, during the month of July.
If you walk along the Apollo Theatre towards the sea, you will reach the magnificent church of Aghios Nikolaos and you will find yourself in the area of Vaporia, known as “the ship owners’ district”.
During the Revolution, refugees from the North Aegean and Crete settled on the island of Syros. There they built unique high-rise mansions with impressive frescoes, wood-carved doors, marble balconies, wooden floors and incomparable details by the sea, thus creating their own “shipyards” on the rocks.
Nowadays, Vaporia with its imposing mansions and old stately homes of the wealthy is the island’s most expensive and perhaps most picturesque area. Do not forget to walk down to Asteria Beach, from where you will enjoy a beautiful view of Vaporia and discover that this fabulous neighborhood appears as if built literally on the water.
Are you in the mood to visit Syros, while learning Greek and exploring Hermoupolis together with Omilo?
Take a look at our courses during the months of July, August, September and October: