Information about the place SYROS (Island) KYKLADES - GTP - Greek Travel Pages

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General features

  Syros is dotted, on its southern side, with Mediterranean type villages, both on its coastline and inland, and with isolated, picturesque cottages on its northern side.
  The island is hilly, with rocky soil. Its highest peak is Pirgos (442 m).
  Abrupt slopes and narrow gorges are typical of the landscape, especially in Pano Meria (northern part). Step-like terraces, separated by stone walls and built on the slopes of the hills, are a testimony to the hard life of the peasants of Syros. They also are an indication of the lack of arable land. In the northern, relatively unexploited part, we find some picturesque villages. As access to the sea is difficult, the beaches on this part of the island are virtually unspoilt.
  Stretches of arable land with vinyards and greenhouses are to be found mainly in the centre of the island's northern part. On Syros, one finds a relatively great variety of rare Mediterranean plants and herbs.
  The island is blessed with a multitude of coasts with a total length of about 87 km. They form numerous small and large bays. Of these, the best known are Phinikas, Galissas, Kini and Vari.

The Princeton Encyclopedia of Classical Sites


  An island in the Cyclades group, cited in the Odyssey (15.414) as the kingdom of the father of Eumaios. It seems to have been colonized by Athens, and appeared in the tribute lists of the Delio-Attic League. Modern Hermoupolis, the port on the E coast, is the site of one of the ancient centers, but almost no trace of it remains. Near Chalandriani in the N of Syros an ancient Cycladian necropolis was discovered in 1895. Recently on an upland near Kastri a settlement from the same period (Ancient Cycladian II) has been found, with partially preserved fortification walls. The greater part of the finds are at the National Museum in Athens. There is also a small museum at Hermoupolis.

M. G. Picozzi, ed.
This text is from: The Princeton encyclopedia of classical sites, Princeton University Press 1976. Cited Nov 2002 from Perseus Project URL below, which contains bibliography & interesting hyperlinks.

Greek & Roman Geography (ed. William Smith)


  Syros or Syrus (Suros, also Surie, Hom. Od. xv. 403, and Sura, Diog. Laert. i. 115; Hesych.; Suid.: Eth. Surios: Syra (Sura), and the present inhabitants call themselves Suriotai or Surianoi, not Surioi), an island in the Aegaean sea, one of the Cyclades, lying between Rheneia and Cythnus, and 20 miles in circumference, according to some ancient authorities. (Plin. iv. 12. s. 22.) Syros produces good wine, but is upon the whole not fertile, and does not deserve the praises bestowed upon it by Homer (l. c.), who describes it as rich in pastures, cattle, wine, and wheat. It is usually stated upon the authority of Pliny (xxxiii. 12. s. 56) that Syros produced: Sil or yellow ochre; but in Sillig's edition of Pliny, Scyros is substituted for Syros.
  Syros had two cities even in the time of Homer (Od. xv. 412), one on the eastern, and the other on the western side of the island. The one on the eastern side, which was called Syros (Ptol. iii. 15. ยง 30), stood on the same site as the modern capital of the island, which is now one of the most flourishing cities in Greece, containing 11,000 inhabitants, and the centre of a flourishing trade. In consequence of the numerous new buildings almost all traces of the ancient city have disappeared; but there were considerable remains of it when Tournefort visited the island. At that time the ancient city was abandoned, and the inhabitants had built a town upon a lofty and steep hill about a mile from the shore: this town is now called Old Syra, to distinguish it from the modern town, which has arisen upon the site of the ancient city. The inhabitants of Old Syra, who are about 6000 in number, are chiefly Catholics, and, being under the protection of France and the Pope, they took no part in the Greek revolution during its earlier years. Their neutrality was the chief cause of the modern prosperity of the island, since numerous merchants settled there in consequence of the disturbed condition of the other parts of Greece.
  There are ruins of the second ancient city on the western coast, at the harbour of Maria della Grazia. Ross conjectures that its name may have been Grynche or Gryncheia, since we find the Grunches, who are otherwise unknown, mentioned three times in the inscriptions containing lists of the tributary allies of Athens. There was another ancient town in the island, named Eschatia. (Bockh, Inscr. no. 2347, c.) Pherecydes, one of the early Greek philosophers, was a native of Syros. (Comp. Strab. x. pp. 485, 487; Scylax, p. 22; Steph. B. s. v.; Tournefort, Voyage, vol. i. p. 245, seq. Engl. tr.; Prokesch, Erinnerungen, vol. i. p. 55, seq.; Ross, Reisen auf den Griech. Inseln, vol. i. p. 5, seq., vol. ii. p. 24, seq.; Fiedler, Reise, vol. ii. p. 164, seq.)

This text is from: Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854) (ed. William Smith, LLD). Cited September 2004 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks

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The Catholic Encyclopedia

Diocese of Syra (Syrensis)

  A Latin diocese, suffragan of Naxos, comprising the Island of Syra of the Cyclades in the Aegean Sea. The island has an area of about thirty-one square miles. It was first called Syria and also Syros, and appears to have been inhabited by the Phoenicians. It was the country of the philosopher Pherecydes, teacher of Pythagoras. It possessed two leading cities, Syros (now the modern Hermupolis) and another city on the western coast where stands today Maria della Grazia.
  The island played no role in antiquity nor in the Christian epoch; it was not even a diocese, at a time when the smallest island possessed its bishop. Devastated several times during the Middle Ages with the other Cyclades by the Sicilians, Arabs, Turks, and Venetians, it was definitively conquered by these last in 1207. They kept it until 1522 when the corsair Barbarossa took possession of it for the Turks; after 1821 it was annexed to the Hellenic kingdom. The Venetians established there a Latin bishopric which was subject to the Archbishopric of Athens until 1525, afterwards to that of Naxos.
  From the occupation of the island by the Turks in the sixteenth century, the Greeks established there a metropolitan. The island became for the most part Catholic. Syra took no part in the Greek revolt of 1821; but here the refugees flocked and founded the town of Hermupolis, which rapidly became the leading port of Greece. Since 1870 the ports of Piraeus and Patras have greatly injured it from a commercial standpoint.

S. Vailhe, ed.
Transcribed by: Thomas M. Barrett
This extract is cited June 2003 from The Catholic Encyclopedia, New Advent online edition URL below.

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