The City of Hermes

The Island of Syros is a relatively small Cycladic Island  in the Aegean Sea which is only 78 nautical miles far away from Athens. After the fall of the Western Roman Empire, it became part of the Byzantine Empire till 1204 when it was conquered by the Venetian Republic. It was included into the Ottoman Republic in the 16th century. The island entered the newly liberated country after the War of Independence of 1821. Since then it’s been part of Hellas.

Nowadays the island is one of the numerous Hellenic examples of places where modern life is very well “makes friends” with Ancient Greek history. On the other hand, beautiful nature goes hand in hand with culture. It is also a very pretty choice for all those who just want to escape the chaos of big and famous island and the crowds of hectic tourists. And why? Because Syros isn’t so popular as Santorini, Rhodes, the Ionic Islands, etc., for instance. At the same time it offers its guests and local alike tiny, traditional villages surrounded by historic sites where visitors can dive deep into history.

One of these small and intriguing settlements is the capital city of Syros, i.e. the town of Ermopoli. In the 19th century it played a very significant role since it was a very important commercial and nautical hub. Nowadays il capoluogo (the main town) combines various styles – modern and neoclassical, and it makes it different from the traditional towns of Cycladic islands. And do you know why?

A village square is usually the most vivid place on Hellenic Islands and the main square of Ermopoli (Plateia Miaouli) is not an exception at all. Moreover, it’s said to be the finest urban space in the Cyclades Islands. The square is dominated by the remarkable Town Hall constructed by Ernst Ziller (a very renowned architect from Saxony). The rear of the municipality houses Ermopoli’s Archeological Museum as well as some very elegant old-world cafés. Speaking about cafés and restaurants, we shouldn’t omit to say that the whole square outside the Town Hall is filled with various locals and shops which are situated on the sides flanked by palm trees.

There is no doubt that the prettiest part of Ermopoli is the District of Vaporia. It’s situated to the east and to the north of the town’s main harbour. It’s name comes from the fact that the distict is dotted by beautiful captains’ houses perched on high rocks and overlooking the sea. Most of them were built by refugees from other islands, including Crete, who came here after the devastation of their homelands in the period of the Revolution. They constructed the houses in a way so that they were like ships over waves, i.e. Vaporia.

These buildings on ships are with high ceilings with nice frescos, awesome marble balconies and carved wooden doors. The area has always been dedicated to the richest people of the island such as industrialists and shipbuilders. Here they find peace and small virgin beaches suitable for swimming. As a prestigious neighbourhood, the District of Vaporia is also full of traditional tavernas  and restaurants, small cafés and numerous shops.

As a rich district, it is also home to the imposing Greek Orthodox Church “Agios Nicolaos” which is often nicknamed as St Nicholas of the Rich. The Christian Holy Building is one of the most recognizable ones in Ermopoli. It is the landmark of the island’s capital and the most distinguished place because of its distinct blue dome and twin spires.

Last but not least, visitors to Ermopoli could visit the Apollo Theatre which is not an ancient Greek theatre. Nope. It was built in the 1800s and since then it’s been widely used for various performances.

And if you have liked the City of Hermes (the Olympian Goda protecting herds and flocks, travellers and traders) so much, you might choose to decorate your bedroom with a wallpaper that will give you the impression that you’re on the Island of Syros. Thus you may wake up in this Greek Paradise every morning ….. and you may have sweet Greek dreams. 😉

 

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