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From the sea Seriphos has a striking profile. Spacious and relatively empty, it is the most mountainous of the Western Cyclades with a ridge of peaks well over 500m high and long ravines which drop to protected bays, often with shores of sand. On the moister, northern sides of the mountains the slopes have been densely terraced for cultivation; on their south-facing side they are bare and stony. The island’s rock is rich in metal ores, and both the land scape and the history of the island have been marked by the extraction of iron. This has brought its share of prosperity and of grief for the islanders. Metallurgic activity is very ancient on Seriphos, going back possibly to Early Cycladic times, and it has continued with some interruptions for over 4,000 years. The island’s name may even come from the Phoenician word for a foundry, ‘sareph’. All this creates an unusual landscape, in which the black breaches and subterranean galleries of the mines contrast starkly in the mind’s eye with the brilliant white buildings and churches which dot the landscape.
Seriphos has beautiful bays for swimming, but its greatest joy is the range of walking opportunities it offers—although these are best enjoyed in the cooler seasons because of a general lack of shade. The paths can be steep and rocky, but the views and ravines, especially in the north, are exhilarating. There are a number of ancient rural churches along the way, some with traces of paint; and a handful of impressive Late Classical and Hellenistic towers to explore. What stays in the memory long est, however, is the image of the island’s dramatic Chora, clustered around its peak far above the island’s harbour like an efflorescence of white crystals. At its heart is one of the most delightful town-squares in the Cyclades, in whose intimate and welcoming space the island’s distinctive, amber-coloured, fresh wine can be enjoyed—tasting of the sea, and strong in colour and flavour.
Seriphos or Serifos Island is part of the Cyclades Island Group, Greece.