Are you interested in visiting the island of Syros? If yes, don’t miss the opportunity to witness some traditional Cycladic architecture in Ano Syros. Just a ten-minute taxi or bus ride from the capital and the port of the island, Hermoupolis, it is the perfect location for a walk with beautiful views to the Aegean Sea.
Get ready to get lost in its little cobblestone alleys with the whitewashed walls, the colourful window shutters, numerous little churches and the blooming bougainvilleas!
Ano Syros is the island’s Medieval settlement, and it looks like a fortified citadel. It was built in 1200 by the Venetians, away from the port of Syros, to protect its residents from pirates roaming the Aegean Sea and other attacks. The town grew gradually, amphitheatrically on the rocks and has been inhabited consistently through the passage of time. Ano Syros remained the administrative centre of Syros until the founding of Hermoupolis in the 1820s.
Ano Syros was home to the Greek Catholics of the island, who are also called “fragkoi” (Φράγκοι). The reason for it is the long period of Frankokratia in Syros that started immediately after the fourth crusade. Due to the existence of Catholics in Ano Syros, the island was under the protection of the French empire and thus escaped the Ottoman rule, to which the majority of Greece was subjected at that time.
Here is still a vibrant Catholic community in Syros, which is estimated at about 40% of the local population. Syros is one of the very few (if not the only) locations in Greece, where the two churches co-exist harmoniously with shared Easter celebrations. They also allow for marriages between Catholic and Orthodox locals.
What to do in Ano Syros
Besides being a popular destination for a stroll, there are quite a few interesting places to visit such as the Catholic Church of Saint George, which stands at the top of the hill of Ano Syros. This church was originally built 1208 but has been destroyed and rebuilt three times. The current building dates to 1834. If the sky is clear, you can see the nearby islands of Tinos, Delos, Paros, and Naxos from this location!
Then there is the Jesuit monastery, which was founded in 1744 and stands out for its beautiful architecture, as well as the Vamvakaris museum, which is dedicated to the great Greek musician and songwriter, Markos Vamvakaris. He was born in Ano Syros in 1905 and he is considered the father of rebetiko music. It’s worth noting that one of his most famous songs, “I Frangosyriani” (Η Φραγκοσυριανή), is a love song about a young Catholic woman from Ano Syros.
Close to the museum you’ll find several small bars and taverns where Markos Vamvakaris used to play music when he returned to Ano Syros for a year in 1954.
And if you get tired from walking around…
Look for the Don Ioanni Stefanou Street, also known as piatsa (from the Italian word piazza which means square), where you will find most of the cafes, taverns, and little artsy shops. It’s the perfect place to take a break from your walk, have a bite or a coffee, and enjoy the view of Hermopoulis from above!
Learning Greek in Syros
If you are interested to explore Ano Syros and the rest of the island, while learning Greek, then you are also welcome at Omilo, for a 1- or 2-week Greek Language and Culture course, between June and September.
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If you are interested to explore Ano Syros for some more days and feel as a local, while staying in a beautiful room, with an amazing view of Hermoupolis and its harbour, then write an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will give you some more info.
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