As the boat approaches the island of Syros, travelers on deck can’t feel but awed while gazing at the two hills that seem to be talking to each other over the city, eloquent symbols of the coexistence of cultures and people on that wondrous place of all: Syros. If we were to journey back in time, we would listen for the sound of human footsteps in the first settlements on the island as early as 3000 BC; we would trace the flourishing course of human activity during ancient and Hellenistic times to then follow the course of relations forged between Syros and the rest of the Cyclades and beyond, with other Greek islands, and even the mighty city-state of Athens. We would definitely have to jump forward to Byzantine times and pause at the pivotal period of Latin rule that followed. We would then silently follow the somber years of Ottoman rule.
We would make a well-deserved stop at the harrowing times of the 1821 Greek War of Independence only to pick our journey up again so as to note the immense contribution of the refugees who arrived on Syros in the wake of the Greek Revolution. The history of the island is inextricably linked with those refugees, who arrived to its shores from Asia Minor, from Chios, from Kasos, from Psara, and from Creta, all greatly contributing to the establishment of Hermoupolis and its rise to prominence. We would feel nothing but admiration at the island’s rapid industrial, commercial, and cultural growth, and at the ensuing creation of a powerful middle class and its culture, both of which left their mark on the city’s architecture.
We would become silent observers of the difficult times too: the pirate raids, the successive courses of foreign rule, the WWII Occupation, and the recent recession are but some of the plights the island sustained and lived through, plights which have contributed to the rich tapestry of images it radiates today. Our mental journey may be over but you have finally arrived. You are now on Syros: relive history in its urban architecture, magnificent buildings, and scenic alleys; visit the port and the shipyard, which bear testament to the island’s erstwhile flourishing commercial and industrial activity; lose yourself in its natural beauty, where sandy beaches meet mountain terrain; delight yourself in its cultural and visitor offerings; and become one with its activities, events, infrastructure, and ever-present hospitality. Right in the heart of the Cyclades cluster, easily accessible by both sea and air, the Lady of the Cyclades welcomes you and invites you to explore its history, meet its people, and savor its flavors and fragrances.