SYMI



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Symi - The interior and the North of the island - to the West

Climbing steeply up from the edge of Chorio, the road passes the town’s cemetery at Aghia Marina. In 1765 an important library and school of religious studies, theology and painting was founded here which flourished for nearly 60 years. At 7km, after reaching a panoramic altitude, a junction is signed (right) to the monastery of the Taxiarchis Michail Roukouniotis (4km) whose en trance is marked by a walled enclosure around a spreading cypress tree of majestic dimensions. Although the monastery is no longer functioning, it is cared for and kept open by a local guardian. The foundation is probably 11th century, although the gate-way and much of the monastic building which surrounds the catholicon date from an 18th century rebuilding. Like many other Symiot monasteries, it is built four-square, like a fortress. The space inside tightly encloses the catholicon which has two levels: the lower level, almost like a subterranean grotto, has paintings (now very blackened) and a pebble floor; in its tiny domed narthex are original traces of the Four Evangelists in the squinches; the upper level, rebuilt after a fire in the 14th century, is decorated with murals by the island’s best known painter, Gregory of Symi, in a popular, narrative style (1738). There appears to have been an Early Christian building on this site (witness the upturned capital just inside the entrance gate). The monastery, which was latterly under Russian protection, possessed from early times an important library; a 12th century Gospel was rescued from the fire here and is now in Rhodes . Passing on the track below the monastery, you soon come to the monastery of the Anargyri (visible just across the valley), decorated similarly with 18th century wall-paintings. From here, a meandering track (1 hr) leads west to the secluded -bay of Aghios Aimilianos, where a tiny church and monastery sits on an islet joined to the shore by a causeway. This may also be reached by boat (45 min.) from Gialos. Constructed in the mid 19th century by the Hadjimichalis family, the monastery is typical of many that were built by rich families and donated to the Church, whose right it was to choose the dedication; the family would often endow the building for its future maintenance and would be able to use it for retreat at their discretion. The monastery is symmetrical, with two residential blocks to either side (able to accommodate 12 monks) and an arcade on the lower level, surrounding a low undecorated chapel. Between the entrance and the causeway is the inconspicuous grave of a 16 year-old girl from Kalymnos who was killed here in 1942. The attractive setting between the sea and the mountains is unforgettable.


Symi Island is part of the Dodecanese Island Group, Greece.



Symi Island is part of the Dodecanese Island Group, Greece.


access

Symi Island, Greece.

 

The island has no airport, and only three or four ferry services a week from Piraeus (16 hrs). Access is easy from Rhodes, however, where there is a selection of fast daily (c. 1 hr) services by hydrofoil (Aigli), and catamaran (Dode kanisos Express), or by regular ferry (Symi I and II): these are all managed by ANES Co., T. (Rhodes) 22410 37769; (Symi) 22460 71444. F/B Kalymnos runs local routes to Kos, Kalymnos, Astypalaia, Rhodes and Kastellorizo, once a week
Symi Travel Guide

eating

Symi Island, Greece.

 

On the south waterfront of Gialós are two good eateries of quite different character: Mythos serves ambitious variants on traditional Greek dishes—mostly imaginative and successful (especially with simpleredients such as courgettes and aubergines): both chef and wine-list are acclaimed. Further out along the same waterfront is Dimitri, for those seeking a simple, unostentatious mezedopoleion, serving fresh fish mezes, expressly prepared. Similar in style, Meraklis (set back from the port near the Metropoli tan Church of Aghios Ioan nis) has good home-cooked dishes that are less specifically fish-oriented.
Symi Travel Guide

further reading

Symi Island, Greece.

William Travis, Bus Stop Symi, Readers Union, Newton Ab bot, 1973.
Symi Travel Guide

lodging

Symi Island, Greece.

Historic, with painted ceilings and delightful views from the rooms, the Hotel Les Catherinettes (T. 22460 72698 & 71671) on the north water front of the harbour (close to where the ferries dock) is not expensive, but the comfort is basic and the balconied rooms can be noisy at night. Garden Studios (T. 22460 72429)—quiet, in a Symiot house surrounded by a garden—are set some way back from the southwest corner of the harbour; just beyond this, Opera House Hotel is similar in concept, but is larger and less intimate (T. 22460 72035). Both have comfortable studio apartments at moderate price. More expensive and stylish is the Hotel Aliki (Apr–Oct only) in a restored mansion on the south waterfront (T. 22460 71655), with a pleasant roof terrace. Monastic lodgings can be arranged at the Monastery of Panormítis in the south of the island (T. 22460 71354).Symi Travel Guide

practical info

Symi Island, Greece.

856 00 Symi: area 57sq. km; perimeter 88km; resident population 2594; max. altitude 617m. Port Authority: 22460 71205. Travel and Information: 22460 71397, www.symi-island.com
Symi Travel Guide

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