SERIPHOS



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Seriphos of Serifos - general

General

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, its frogs, and the legend of Perseus 


Seriphos is associated with the legend of Perseus and his mother Danae. Zeus, in the form of a shower of golden rain, had procreated a child by Danae in her prison cell where she had been enclosed by her father, King Acrisus of Argos, who feared the fulfillment of an oracle which predicted he would be killed by his grandson. When the child was born he locked Danae and the infant Perseus in a chest and threw them into the sea. The chest washed up on Seriphos and was found by the kindly Dictys—brother of the island’s king Polydectes—who undertook to raise the child. Polydectes later fell in love with Danae, and seeking to keep the now adult Perseus out of the picture, sent him off to obtain the dreadful Gorgon’s head, a mission from which he was sure he would never return alive. Amply aided by Athena, Perseus succeeded and returned to Seriphos to find his mother and Dictys seeking refuge in a temple from the menacing attentions of Polydectes. Perseus went into the presence of the king and his sceptical courtiers so as to present the Gorgon’s Head; taking it out from its protective pouch, it had the customary effect of turning them all to stone. Dictys was placed on the throne of Seriphos, and Danae and Perseus departed for their homeland in Argos. It was after these endeavours that Perseus was prevented from resting by the noise of the frogs of the island, and asked his father, Zeus, to silence them. In Antiquity the ‘silent frogs of Seriphos’ were a curiosity that became proverbial. They were still silent, according to Pliny (Nat. Hist. VIII, 83), in his time; but—he observed—they would croak again if moved to another place. The Thunderer has since relented, it seems, and today’s frogs on Seriphos have a voice once more. The island’s 6th century bc silver coinage bears the design of a frog on the obverse. According to Pausanias (Descrip. II, 18.1) there was an important and long-lasting cult of Perseus on Seriphos.

Seriphos or Serifos Island is part of the Cyclades Island Group, Greece.


access

Seriphos or Serifos Island, Greece.

G.A. Ferries and Ventouris Lines run services (4 hrs 30 mins) which together provide daily connections with Piraeus by car ferry. This is supplemented in the summer season by a daily service by faster boat, operated either by Aegean Speed Lines or Hellenic Seaways Highspeed, both of which take vehicles and make the journey in 2 hrs 30 mins. Nearly all services continue to Siphnos and Milos.

Seriphos Travel Guide

beaches

Seriphos or Serifos Island, Greece.

Livadi Beach
Livadakia BeachPopular sandy bay of Psili Ammos
Serifos or Seriphos Travel Guide

eating

Seriphos or Serifos Island, Greece.

Taverna Marditsa by the beach at Megálo Livádi produces some of the best and simplest home-cooking on the island. One of the joys of Seriphos is its excellent fresh cognac-coloured wine: this can be purchased at "Loza", be low the castle in Chora, or be sampled together with mezés at the Café Stou Stratou in the picturesque square of the Demarcheion in Chora. The café also serves properly made Greek coffee.

Serifos or Seriphos Travel Guide

lodging

Seriphos or Serifos Island, Greece.

The island’s selection of accommodation is plentiful but does not offer great style. More comfortable than most are the well-equipped Studios Niobi (Easter to Oct), overlooking the bay of Livádi from the east side (T./fax. 22810 52564, www.studiosniovi.gr). The Hotel Naias in the port is open all year (T. 22810 51749). Currently there are few options available in the more picturesque setting of Chora: a modern and comfortable solution on the edge of Chora is Anatoli Studios (T. 22810 51510).

Serifos or Seriphos Travel Guide

practical info

Seriphos or Serifos Island, Greece.

840 05 Seriphos: area 74sq km; perimeter 83km; resident population 1262; max. altitude 583m. Port Authority: T. 22810 51470. Travel and information: Krinas Travel (T. 22810 51500, fax 51488), www.ser ifos-island.com
Serifos or Seriphos Travel Guide

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