SEEKING TRACES OF ANCIENT CIVILIZATIONS IN SYROS
Syros is undoubtedly a blessed place, a place that, from your very first moments on the island, you feel how much it has been loved by locals and its newcomers. You see it everywhere when you look around, all around the island and you realize that every man’s creation in this place has been done with passion!
But the history of Syros is so long that it is lost in the depths time. The important archaeological sites of the island are irrefutable witnesses of that. Travel to these ancient places, making a journey back in time, wishing that this journey would be real!
On the northern side of the island, Chalandriani is probably of the smallest settlement on the island, but it is of great archaeological interest since it dates back to the Early Cycladic period (3,000 BC). In the small fertile plateau extending to the sea, excavations revealed a large Early Cycladic cemetery with more than 600 graves. At the point where you stand you feel a cool breeze caressing your face and as you lift your eyes, you realize that you are at a truly unique spot from where you can gaze at the sea and the neighboring islands of Tinos and Andros. You will get fascinated by thinking that thousands of years ago the area’s inhabitants were gazing at the very same view.
The excavations of the graves revealed rich gifts (jewels, vases, stone sandblasters, household utensils, compasses, weapons) that testify to the prosperity of the settlement. The clay utensils with the elaborate decoration, most of which depict rowing boats, as well as the famous Cycladic marble idols, stand out.
If you move west of Chalandriani following a narrow path and after a 45-minute walk, you will reach the Kastri high cliff and admire the homonymous fortified settlement. According to the findings on the ancient citadel, dating from 2300 to 2200 BC, pottery, stone-carving, miniature art and metalworking had been developed in the area.
A visit to the archaeological sites of Kastri – Chalandriani creates a strong desire to see some of the findings of the excavations, which are exhibited at the National Archaeological Museum (Athens), at the Goulandris Museum of Cycladic Art, but also at the Archaeological Museum of Hermoupolis. The Archaeological Museum is one of the oldest museums in Greece and it is housed in the imposing building of the Town Hall.
But before that you, can go even northern and reach Grammata beach. The easiest way is to go by boat. Hikers can choose to follow the footpath from Kambos to Apo Meria. It will take about an hour. When you get to the beach you can still see the sailors engraved inscriptions with wishes and prayers to the gods to continue safely their journey. They were found there, as the bay was once considered one of the safest spot of the island. According to archaeologists, the inscriptions date from Classical Antiquity to the Middle Ages.
On the west side of the island, at Galissas beach, you can take a break from bathing on the beautiful homonymous beach and climb up the hill which is dominated by the picturesque chapel of Agia Pakou and visit the remnants of the ancient city of Galissos: a tower of the 4th century, a cemetery and a sanctuary.
On your way back to Hermoupolis, you can make a stop at Ano Syros, the first capital of the island, to explore the city surrounded by the Medieval castle dating back to the 13th century. Cross the gate, walk through the picturesque white streets and go up the stairs to enter in San Giorgis. As the sun sets, it’s your time to relax in a bar with a magnificent view towards Hermoupolis and the endless blue of the Aegean which has already been amazingly colored by the gorgeous sunset.