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Syros: the most Catholic island in Greece

The island of Syros (102 sq km, 20,000 inhabitants) is located in the Aegean Sea, in the archipelago of the Cyclades islands, between Mykonos in the east and Kythnos in the west. Syros is largely mountainous, the highest peak, Mount Pirgos, reaches 442 meters. The island mainly cultivates vines and olive trees. Syros is the most populated of the Cyclades and is the administrative center of the archipelago.

The island has the particularity that half of its inhabitants are of Roman Catholic religion, this is a legacy of the period of Venetian domination (1207-1537). It is one of the few places in Greece, together with nearby Tinos, where there is a strong core of Catholics. Even until the nineteenth century the island was practically inhabited only by Catholics, only in the nineteenth century, during the Turkish persecutions in the rest of Greece numerous Greek immigrants of orthodox faith took refuge in Syros.

ERMOUPOLIS: NEOCLASSICAL BUILDINGS AND CAPITAL OF THE CYCLADES

The island is full of beautiful cities in addition to the capital Ermoupolis, full of neoclassical buildings, the nearby medieval Venetian town of Ano Syros is very interesting. On the island of Syros there are also some interesting archaeological areas, in the northern part of the island the excavations of Kastri and those of Chalandriani are to be visited, where there is a large prehistoric necropolis.

The main city is Ermoupolis, located along the east coast of the island. In addition to being the most important city of Syros and the port where ferries dock, it is also the administrative center and the capital of the Cyclades archipelago. The town of Ermoupolis is among the most beautiful in the Cyclades dotted with neoclassical buildings such as that of the town hall. There are several museums such as the Archaeological Museum and the Industrial Museum. The latter museum traces the industrial and commercial history of the island, which until the 19th century was the main port of Greece and one of the most important commercial centers in the country where glass, ceramics, silk and clothes were produced.

ANO SYROS: A MEDIEVAL VILLAGE OF VENETIAN FOOTPRINT

A short distance from Ermoupolis is the village of Ano Syros. This is a medieval Venetian-style town where Catholics live and where the beautiful church of Agios Georgios is located, the cathedral built in the 13th century. Ano Syros was the old capital of the island during Venetian rule. The village of Vrodado was formed on the hill next to Ano Syros since the 19th century, where the Greek Orthodox reside. South of Ermoupolis is the island’s small airport which is connected by flights with Athens.

The most beautiful beaches on the island are located along the southern and western coasts. Along the west coast the most popular beaches are located around the center of Finikas. These include the beaches of Posidonia, Finikas, Kokkini and Angathopes. Further north is the bay of Galissas with the beaches of Armeos and Galissas. Then continuing towards the north of the island is a succession of coves and cliffs where are the beaches of Kini, Delfini, Aetos, Lia and Grammata. Along the southern coast are the beaches of Mega Gialos and Vari.

HOW TO GET TO SYROS

FLIGHTS: The island’s small airport is located a few kilometers south of Ermoupolis. Syros is connected by flights with Athens airport.

FERRIES: The port of Syros, Ermoupolis, is located in the center of the east coast and is connected by ferries and fast ships with Piraeus and many Greek islands. Fast ships connect Syros with Piraeus (2.5 hours), Rafina (3 hours) and Mykonos (40 minutes). Also the other islands such as Amorgos, Andros, Ios, Milos, Naxos, Paros etc. are connected by ferries. There are also connections to more distant islands such as Rhodes, Kos, Anafi and Astypalea.

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