A lively state sparkles under the Aegean sun. The past, the present and the future seem to coexist harmoniously in the marble-paved streets with the imposing mansions.
Ermoupoli was created by refugees who came from Izmir, Chios, Psara, Kasos and Crete in the 1820s. At that time the port had few buildings. The first church that was built was Metamorfosi and then districts were created according to the place of the refugees’ origin (Hydreika, Vrontado, Psariana). The name it was given means city of Hermes, due to the growth of the trade.
The refugee settlement became an important urban centre in the Aegean and up to circa 1860 Syros was the first commercial port in Greece. Along with the trade, the craft industry, the culture, the arts, and the social life were developed. It became the cradle of the modern Greek enlightment, as among the refugees of the new town (and mainly the Chians) the most progressive tendencies of the Modern Greek Enlightenment were represented. Through the 19th century Ermoupoli gained its valuable architectural “dowry” –the mansions and the public buildings. Most of them have been built in about 75 years, that is why the settlement shows uniformity and unity. German, Italian and Greek architects were conscripted for their creation.
Most of the buildings are all-marble and have rich interior decoration (ceiling paintings, frescoes, marble staircases, sculptures, etc.).
TOWN HALL SQUARE
The heart of the city is Miaoulis Square, or Town Hall Square, which was established in the 19th century. Here all the festive events are held and important events for the island have taken place such as the reception of Venizelos and the disapproval of King Constantine from the crowd. Formerly there there was sand over there and on its NW side there was the orchard of Salachas with wells. In 1847 the Municipality bought it and built the square envisaged by the Weiler plan. The buildings around it are from the period between 1840-50 and their galleries were built following the model of the Italian towns of that time.
On the square there is the famous bandstand, a work of Ioannis Vitalis made of Pentelic marble, and the statue of Andreas Miaoulis of 1889. In its lower right end one of the oldest kiosks of Greece is located.
The Town Hall of Ermoupoli is one of the largest in Greece. It was built between 1876-1889 and it is the work of Ernst Ziller. Upon entering you will admire the marble staircase – cantilever and hanging- that looks as if it is flying. At its base there is the effigy of Mayor D. Vafiadakis. Right from the entrance, on the ground floor, the courts are housed and on the first floor the conference room of the City Council stands out. In the building there are also the registrar of mortgages and the Archaeological Museum.
Around the square you will see the Club Hellas -current arts centre of the Municipality (1862-3) and the Historical Archive, formerly house of Ladopoulos (1870). The outdoor cinema Pallas was built in 1855-1866 and it was initially the municipal grocery store. The Hellenic Telecommunications Organization (OTE) building is of the period 1957-1958 and in its place there was the Greek Senior School of Christos Evangelidis and then the “Hotel of the town” and “of France”. One of the most impressive halls is the current Cyclades Labor Center (1871-3) which is all-marble, with rich architectural decoration on its facade.
Above the square, the clock that was manufactured in 1861 by a mechanism which came from Munich stands out. It was destroyed by the bombing of the Germans and it was restored in 1949. The pointers are stopped at 12.30.
The Apollon Theatre is an emblematic building of Ermoupoli, built in 1862-4 and designed by architect P. Sampo who built the Club as well. The layout of the interior keeps the proportions of the Italian tradition and everyone says it is a miniature of La Scala -although this is not accurate. The design is influenced by at least four Italian standards: La Scala (1776), the theatre (1816) San Carlo of Naples, the academic theatre in Castelfranco (1745) and the Teatro della Pergola in Florence (1755). On the contrary the support of the domed ceiling follows the French system. Thanks to the Apollon Theatre, the artistic life in Syros flourished. It hosted performances by famous leading actors, such as Marika Kotopouli, Cybele, Manos Katrakis, and many concerts. It is an important cultural pole of attraction in Syros even today as it hosts cultural events and the Festival of the Aegean.
(Tel.: +30 22810 85192).
AT THE COAST
The coastal road, full of coffee bars, shops, taverns and restaurants, ends up in the transit warehouses that were built between 1834-1839, designs by J.W. Erlacher with the stewardship of Wilhelm von Weiler. They are covered by cylindrical vaults of small bricks and stone voussoirs. They stopped operating as warehouses since interwar period and they host public services (port authority, etc.). In 1994 the Cycladic Art Gallery was created hosting temporary exhibitions in four warehouses of the south side.
The Customs building (1859-1861) is imposing. A part of it was destroyed in the war and was rebuilt by maintaining the original design. On the side there is Nisaki, from where you will enjoy excellent views of Vaporia.
The district that stands out in Ermoupoli is famous Vaporia. Three generations of shipowners, bankers, and industrialists passed by the grandiose urban mansions facing the sea.
In Tsiropina square with the palm trees, which was formed in 1880 and later took its name after the mayor, you will find yourself in one of the nicest points of the city. There you will see the grandiose building of the Prefecture of Cyclades, once Tsiropina (1883). There are dozens of interesting buildings around; the house of Zygomalas of 1880 stands out, which is now the headquarters of the Public Power Corporation (DEI), and the huge house of Kriaras in 600m2 facing the sea. A unique building next to Agios Nikolaos is the old Carabiner (Italian police station) –the house of merchant Tampakis and current basis of the metropolis. From the narrow streets beside the Prefecture you will find yourself near the sea and the view of Vaporia will take your breath away.
AT THE MARKET
Ermoupoli has a wonderful market, with shops, bookstores, grocery stores, art galleries, coffee bars, restaurants and ouzeries. Old shops forming true attractions can be found by walking through the city. The “Inopnevmatopoleion” (Alcohol store) of Kritsinis operating since 1917 and the pharmacy of Koveos of 1837, the “oldest of modern Greece”, as it is called by its owners, are very famous.
The market of the town is located on Chios St. with grocery stores, fish stores and shops selling herbs and traditional products, “loukoumia” (confections based on a gel of starch and sugar) and “halvadopites” (halva pies).
- The walk in the neighborhoods, such as Hydreika or Psariana is beautiful: in the second one you will see the metropolis of Ermoupoli’s Catholics, -Evangelistria (1829), a three-aisled basilica which follows the Italian standards and has a nice painted decoration.
- Pole of attraction in Ermoupoli is, inter alia, the casino of Syros (or of the Aegean) housed in two buildings of the early 19th century which have been renovated.