SYMI



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Symi - The port (Gialos) and the old town (Chorio) and their vicinity - General layout and appearance

Every approach to Symi by sea runs beside long stretches of rocky and inhospitable cliff: the island seems virtually uninhabited. Then, suddenly, rounding sharply into a long harbour, the steeply rising theatre of coloured, neoclassical houses on all sides comes into view and unfolds—and goes on unfolding. The town seems bigger than expected; and still only a part of it is visible from below. This is just Gialos, the 19th century harbour area; but beyond its high southern ridge it blends continuously into Chorio, the old town of Symi—high up, more ventilated and hidden from the predatory view of passing pirates. The shops, hotels, eateries, cafes and offices are below in Gialos; the museum, the former acropolis, most of the churches and the older houses are in Chorio. A broad staircase of some 500 steps, called the Kali Strata, unites the two. It was in effect the main thoroughfare of the town, on which the rich aspired to possess a house. By the water, warehouses lined the cooler north-facing side of the harbour; administrative buildings and the port offices, its south-facing front. At the northwest corner of the inlet, the line of houses draws back, defining a long, open area faced onto by some particularly fine buildings—the Town Hall, the Nautical Museum etc.: this was the old ship-yard and sponge depot, and the commercial heart of Symi. The oddly ‘Cotswold-style’ stone bridge which cuts this area from the sea was only built in the 1970s, once those activities had long since ceased here. At first a desalination plant was projected for this space; now it has become part plateia, part car-park. Ship-building still continues on the island but on a small scale, and is based in the next bay to the north of the harbour.


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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