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Syros (/ˈsrɒs, -rs/; Greek: Σύρος), or Siros or Syra is a Greek island in the Cyclades, in the Aegean Sea. It is located 78 nautical miles (144 km) south-east of Athens. The area of the island is 83.6 km2 (32 sq mi) and it has 21,507 inhabitants (2011 census).[1]

The largest towns are Ermoupoli, Ano Syros, and Vari [el]. Ermoupoli is the capital of the island, the Cyclades, and the South Aegean. It has always been a significant port town, and during the 19th century it was even more significant than Piraeus. Other villages are Galissas, Foinikas, Pagos, Manna, Kini and Poseidonia.

Ermoupoli

The port of Ermoupoli

Ermoupoli (Greek: Ερμούπολη) stands on a naturally amphitheatrical site, with neo-classical buildings, old mansions, and white houses cascading down to the harbour. It was built during the Greek War of Independence in the 1820s.

The city hall is in the center of the town, in Miaoulis Square, ringed with cafés, seating areas, and palm trees. Dubbed the "City of Hermes", Syros has numerous churches, such as Metamorphosis, Koimisis, St. Demetrius, Three Hierarchs, Anastasis, Evangelistria, and St. Nicolas. There is an archaeological museum and a municipal library.

The quarter of Vaporia is where sea captains traditionally lived. There are numerous neo-classical mansions along the quarter's narrow streets.

Ano Syros

View from Ano Syros

Ano Syros is the second town of Syros and was built by the Venetians at the beginning of the 13th century on the hill of San Giorgio, north-west of Ermoupoli. Ano Syros maintains a medieval atmosphere. Innumerable steps between narrow streets and houses with coloured doors lead to the top of the town. The medieval settlement of Ano Syros is accessible by car; the town is served mostly by marble steps. The distance from the harbour up to the main entry point of the town is approximately 1000 metres. The Catholic cathedral of Saint George dominates Ano Syros. The cathedral church was constructed during the 13th century. From the cathedral visitors have a panoramic view of the neighbouring islands of Tinos, Delos, Mykonos, Paros, Andros and Naxos.

History

Kastri culture

The history of settlement on Syros goes back at least 5,000 years, to the Early Bronze Age of the Cycladic civilization. This is when the hill-top settlement of Kastri [el; la] began. Archaeologists describe Early Cycladic III (ECIII) culture as Kastri culture.

Kastri, dated by archaeologists to 2800-2300 BC, was one of the earliest settlements in Greece that were protected by stone walls with rounded bastions. Also the cemetery of Chalandriani is associated with Kastri. Inside the fortification, the houses shared party walls and were packed close together. It is estimated that the fortified town was home to up to 300 people.

The site was first discovered and excavated in 1898 by Christos Tsountas, the "father of Cycladic research". Kastri had some of the earliest metalwork in the region, and also some of the earliest use of potter's wheel.

Antiquity

View from Ano Syros

Ano Syros is the second town of Syros and was built by the Venetians at the beginning of the 13th century on the hill of San Giorgio, north-west of Ermoupoli. Ano Syros maintains a medieval atmosphere. Innumerable steps between narrow streets and houses with coloured doors lead to the top of the town. The medieval settlement of Ano Syros is accessible by car; the town is served mostly by marble steps. The distance from the harbour up to the main entry point of the town is approximately 1000 metres. The Catholic cathedral of Saint George dominates Ano Syros. The cathedral church was constructed during the 13th century. From the cathedral visitors have a panoramic view of the neighbouring islands of Tinos, Delos, Mykonos, Paros, Andros and Naxos.

History