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The history of Syros

Syros is located at the central point of the Cyclades and it is an island with a great history. It is the most populous island of the Cyclades and the capital Ermoupolis is the largest city and capital of the Cyclades. This is an island with its own unique color that does not fit the typical Cyclades islands.

Traces of human presence in Syros during the prehistoric era have been found in Chalandriani the neighboring hill, Castri in the north-east coast, and dated, respectively, in 2700-2300 and 2300-2200 BC The Cycladic fortified settlement of Castri is the best preserved, where the archaeologist Christos Tsountas first brought to light in 1898, remains of fortifications, dwellings and multiple objects, while some findings convince us of the existence of workshops for metalwork and show the relationships of Syros with the coast of Micra Asia at that time.

The first historical mention is made by Homer, who reports it as "Syria" and called it ever since as "dipolis", meaning it had two cities: the Posidonia and Foinikas. The first inhabitants were the Phoenicians, hence the name Syros derived from "Ousyra" (*happy) or "Sur" (*rock).

During the second BC millennium, the island seems that successively fell into the hands of the Phoenicians, the Minoan Crete, Mycenae and finally, in the early first BC millennium, the Ionians.

The ancient Ermoupoli was built by the Ionians, and later was inhabited by Persian invaders, Romans, Franks and Turks, who everyone left their own cultural impact. But those who have marked with their presence the island were none other than the Venetians, who made Syros an important commercial center of the Eastern Mediterranean. The fury of the pirates, however, over time has forced the residents to relocate the capital up to the hill, where today stands the medieval settlement of Ano Syros, with the church of St. George (San Giorgio).

When the island was conquered by the French, Capuchins monks settled in Syros (1635), and founded a small monastery operating until today, and later Jesuits monks (1744).

With the outbreak of the Greek revolution, the island's population was about 4,000 residents who were located mainly in the settlement of Ano Syros. But the destruction of Chios in 1822, as well as the persecution of the Greek at Samos, Smyrna, Kydonies, Rhodes, Psara and Kasos caused a massive wave of refugees in Syros. The refugees found on Syros a relative security because of the privileges conceded by the Gate to the island and also the natural advantages, such as the large, safe from the winds harbor. Very quickly an urban miracle was established at the foot of Ano Syros: A vibrant city and rich buildings were raised in minimal time, where in the past there was nothing more than barren ground and very few small and pour houses and warehouses.

Already in 1828 the inhabitants of Ermoupolis amounted to 14,000, composing the largest urban center in Greece and very quickly Ermoupolis became the largest industrial and commercial center of the free Greece, reaching in 1850, 20.000 inhabitants and in 1889, 22.000. At the same time the residents of Ermoupolis, affluent and educated, were at pains to give the city an unprecedented spiritual light for its time.

The historical first high school of Ermoupolis with Neofytos Vamvas as the first headmaster, was built thanks to contributions of the wealthiest bourgeoisie and was inaugurated in 1833, in which would later attend important personalities such as Venizelos and P. Protopapadakis, while the Apollo Theatre first opened in 1864, hosting dozens of performances of Greek and foreign troupes every year. The city has also experienced great commercial and cultural development until the early 20th century and was the largest port in Greece before the one of Piraeus.

Today Syros appears highly developed financially, a growth that is based on many different sources: Decisively contibute tourism, the operation of the yards, the high agricultural production, the presence of many public services and the operation of the Department of Product and Systems Design, University Aegean.

The glamour of the past is reflected even today in the great architectural monuments of past centuries, but also in the extensive and established cultural events "Ermoupolia", held every year during the summer.


Quote: Municipality of Hermoupolis, wikipedia