SYMI



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Symi - The port (Gialos) and the old town (Chorio) and their vicinity - The area of Chorio - The Castle

Viewed from the south, the Castle of the Knights of St John incorporates a bastion in (massive, but irregular) 5th century bc masonry from the ancient acropolis of Syme, on which once stood a Temple to Athena; abutting it to the left is a semicircular redoubt built by the Knights and bearing the arms of Pierre d’Aubusson as well as the date 1507 which was, in fact, four years after d’Aubusson’s death. There are two further redoubts which face east and northeast. These are all later fortifications to the earlier castle of 1407 which remarkably withstood a siege by Mehmet the Conqueror in 1457. On the summit stands the church of the Panaghia tou Kastrou (the ‘Greater’—so as to distinguish it from the ‘Lesser’ below): this church was originally dedicated to Aghios Giorgios, but it took the name of the original Panaghia church to the south after that was destroyed by German forces in 1944. To right and left of the entrance door are Hospitaller escutcheons in stone, taken from the walls of the castle. Inside the church is the renowned and beautiful icon of the Second Coming by the late 16th century Cretan artist, Giorgios Klontzas. To one side of the church’s belfry hangs an anomalous bell made from the nose of an enemy bomb. Around the perimeter of the area cluster two other small chapels; that on the north has a small (recent) mural, and a painted prothesis niche whch would seem to indicate that it was perhaps once more fully decorated with painting. Although, from the Hospitallers’ point of view, the castle was not especially practical for signalling purposes, the panorama from its heights is spectacular, including in its sweep the coast of Asia Minor, Gialos, the bay of Pedhi and the ridge in between with its line of windmills which culminate in some unusual ancient remains, towards which this itinerary is now directed. Below the castle, to the east, is the church of the Panaghia Katomenia (the ‘Lesser’ or ‘Lower’). Its interior is modern but contains a finely carved iconostasis, throne, pulpit and lectern; although gilded and painted, these have much greater lightness because they are not varnished. Further to the northeast is the (now superannuated) Old Pharmacy building—a memorable piece of Symiot neoclassical architecture, complete with 19th century fitments in the interior and a makeshift operating room behind. Together with the creation of the public ‘Reading Rooms’ in Gialos and Chorio, this is an expression of the keen municipal civic-sense which characterised late 19th century Symi.


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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