(Open Apr–Oct 8–2.30, closed Mon. Entrance 200m from the main Panormiis road at the top of the inhabited area of Chorio: no access by taxi.) The combined Folklore and Archaeological Museum of Symi is high up at the southeastern extremity of the town indicated by an (occasionally unreliable) paper-chase of wooden signs through a labyrinth of narrow streets. Housed in two Symiot mansions, the small and informative exhibition area is arranged in half a dozen rooms around a shaded courtyard which contains classical and early Christian fragments, grave-stones and inscriptions. One of the buildings has delightfully painted wooden eaves. The classical and prehistoric collection in Room 1 displays several interesting Classical funerary pieces—a fragment of a sepulchral lion, and a shipwrecked sailor’s tomb stone with characteristic iconography, figuring the naked sailor with his mantle spread on a rock. The Byzantine and early Christian display in Room 2 has good documentation on the various sites on the island; there is a case of early 13th century Byzantine ceramic bowls with flowing designs of extreme simplicity—remarkable (like those in Kastellorizo’s museum) for having survived complete and in such good condition. Room 3 is dominated by a painted and carved wooden epitaphios of great beauty from the Church of Aghios Athanasios, with fine painted scenes of the Passion of Christ. This would have been carried around the town once a year in the culminating procession of Holy Saturday. The several examples of 19th century ‘mousandra’ woodwork in Room 5 give a good idea of the colourfulness of Symiot interiors—primarily blues and reds, with some green—and the furniture that they contained. Across the courtyard are the house’s former service rooms with an exhibit of miscellaneous daily items. From the edge of the courtyard a stone staircase gives access to the Chatzi agapios Mansion. This is an imposing, late 18th century archontiko (mansion house) of Italian design—severe and dominating on the outside, but more gracious inside with a colonnaded and pebbled courtyard. The reception rooms are decorated with faded but delightful murals by local artists, and ornately carved wooden panels which are characteristic of the more opulent Symiot interiors.

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

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

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