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The Island of Multi Colors : Symi

Introduction

Symi Travel Guide – Symi is one of the smallest islands of the Dodecanese located northern from the island of Rhodes, eastern from the island of Tilos and Nisyros and southern from the island of Kos. Symi is a mountainous a rocky island and the largest part is bare while there are pine forest on the east part. Symi is an ideal destination for those looking for tranquility and seclusion. As the size of the island is tiny, there is only one bus service. It is advisable not to rent a car, a s the road network is limited. The majority of the beaches are accessible by b oat while there are numerous hiking trails.

Symi Travel Guide : The island of multi-colors

While approaching the harbor of Symi, you will be overwhelmed from millions of feelings. The colorful houses of the village climbing to the slopes of the mountain seem like an image of a fairy tale novel. The rich mythological tradition reflects to the history of the island. The beauty of Symi is a unique spectacle. Neoclassical mansions and abandoned captain houses, cobblestone courtyards a nd pebbled mosaics give an aura of nobility to the island while the bougainvillea flowers add a colorful touch to the romantic atmosphere. You might even sense the atmospheric air of Symi when you climb the five hundred stone steps that lead to the once most commercial street of the island. Stroll around the kalderimi, the stone bridge that connects the two sides of the village, renowned as the Bridge of Love and you might even feel like you stepped back in another era, and observe the famous shipbuilders of Symi at the small shipyard of Harani who maintain the shipbuilding traditions of the island. An island with strong elements of romanticism, that resembles a colorful canvas, will go beyond your expectations; It w ill salute you stately, secluded, rocky and wild but above all beautiful.

History and Mythology of Symi

Mythology : One of the antiquity names of the island was Egli, the nymph who gave birth to the Three Graces while another myth states that Symi was the name of the nymph who God Poseidon fell in love with, and had a son, Chthonios, the first king of the island. However, another myth reveals that the island was named after the daughter of Ialysos and D otida, who was kidnapped from Glafkos and was brought to the island. He was the first resident of Symi, an excellent fisherman and shipbuilder, who constructed the ship of the Argonauts leaving the everlasting legacy to
the island.

Symi Travel Guide

History: Archaeological findings show that Symi h as been inhabited since the prehistoric times. The island followed the historical path of the Dodecanese, felling under the domination of the Roman and Byzantine Empire and the Order of the Knights of Rhodes who contributed to the economic prosperity of Symi helping in the development shipbuilding, sponge fishing and trade. When the Ottomans conquered the island, the people of Symi managed to gain important privileges from the Sultan that gave them autonomy and great benefits in seamanship. Subsequently, Symi served as the capital of the Dodecanese. This was the golden era of Symi in 1900 for a decade. However, Symi was dominated from the Italians followed from the English and the German occupation. Symi was incorporated to Greece in March of 1948.

Beautiful Architecture

Symi Travel Guide

Gazing the colorful island of Symi, it is hard not to fall in love with this neoclassical settlement! The lovely village was built on the mountain foothills of Vigla for reasons of safety and protection of pirate invasions. This part is known as Horio or Ano Hora. The highest point of Horio is dominated from the ancient citadel and the traces of the castle of the Knights. The settlement was centered on the castle and gradually began to extend to the coast of Symi namely Gialos, Niborio and Pedi. In 1971, the settlement of Symi was declared as a preserved settlement from the Ministry of Culture. The two and three story houses with the pebbled courtyards, the decorative motifs, the gabled pitched tiled roofs and the iron balconies create a distinctive noble character.  However, the audacious diversity of the houses and the pastel colors calm the imposing cliffs of Symi. The harbor of Gialos was developed in the 15 century with dense layout and vaulted passages while it took its final form in the early 20 century. The beautiful houses of Gialos were constructed from Carpathian craftsmen. Indeed, the upper part of Gialos is an exceptional architectural sample due to the interesting mixture of the architecture of the Aegean and elements of the Venetian fortress architecture. It is worth noting that the influence of the European Neoclassicism was great to the people of Symi. They brought marble from the island of Paros and the mount of Pendeli to construct balconies and stairs, pumice stones from Santorini to construct the stone masonry, porcelain from Nisyros to plaster, wood from Trieste for doors and windows and tiles from Marseilles. Walking towards Ano Hora, one will find one of the most beautiful districts namely Kali Strata. The significant development of maritime activities and cultural relationships between Egypt and Asia Minor contributed to the relationship of an urban neoclassicism.

Symi Travel Guide

On your way uphill, you will have the opportunity to admire outstanding two and three story houses with symmetrical doors and windows. These massive mansions used to belong to wealthy merchants and captains, who brought the artistic styles of the West because of their professional activities. The traces of this influence are distinctive from the colored plaster, the gable roofs, the cornice doors and windows, the wooden doors and the exquisite ironwork balconies.  On the other hand, the buildings of Gialos
are characterized from influences of the European Neoclassicism such as the two story house of Fotara and the three story house of Kalafata made in the style of the Venetians and Naples. Other monuments of Gialos include the impressive clock tower built in 1881 and the sculptures of the Dove of Peace and the Statue of Mihalakis made from Kostas Valsamis.

Best Attractions of Symi

The Capital of Symi
Symi Travel Guide : Harbor Area

The Harbor of Gialos is the harbor of Symi located on the northern side of the island. The charming settlement is one of the most romantic villages of the Dodecanese embellished with neoclassical mansions and abandoned captain houses, cobblestone courtyards and pebbled mosaics that give an aura of nobility to the island. The two sides of the harbor are connected with the stone bridge, known as Kalderimi, that lead to the charming square of Kambos. The main stairway that leads to the capital of Symi, known as Horio, is called Kali Strata. The beautiful village has a traditional character with old mansions, charming chapels and labyrinthine cobblestoned alleys that spread towards the hillside. The entire area is crowned from the castle of the Knights standing on the highest point of the settlement. Since 1970, the whole settlement has been declared as preserved owing to the historical importance of the buildings.

The Beach of Agios Georgios Disalonas

The Beach of Agios Georgios Disalonas is one of the most impressive beaches of the Aegean. It is a pebbled beach with emerald waters located on the east side of the island. It is the most beautiful beach of the island lying in front of a vertical cliff of three hundred meters. The beach is accessible either through a hiking path from Pedi or by boat.

Symi Travel Guide : Sponges
The Castle of the Knights

The Castle of the Knights is located on the highest point of Ano Symi. The defensive fortress was built on the remnants of the ancient acropolis of Symi from the Knights of Saint John in 1407 with the intention of strengthening the defense system of the island. At the main entrance, an emblem of the Knights can be found. Today, the outer defensive walls of the castle are the sole significant remains. The castle of the Knights offers panoramic views of the surrounding areas.

The Monastery of Archangel Michael Panormitis
Symi Travel Guide : The Monastery of Archangel Michael Panormitis

The Monastery of Archangel Michael Panormitis is one of the most important pilgrimage centers of the Dodecanese located on southwest side of the island. The monastery was constructed from the architect Anastasis Karnavis in 1783 while it was decorated from the local iconographers namely Monk Neofytos and Kyriakos Karakostis. The impressive bell tower of Panormitis was built in a baroque style in the early 20 century, and resembles the bell tower of the monastery of Zagorsk in Moscow. Inside the monastery, one can visit an interesting folklore and ecclesiastical collection. The cells of the monastery can accommodate up to five hundred guests wishing to stay overnight. Excursions boats to the monastery operate from the harbor of Gialos.

Pondikokastro

The Pondikokastro is considered to be one of the oldest monuments of the island found in the area of the windmills. It is a strange circular stone b uilding, known as the grave of Nereus from the locals. Unfortunately, archaeologists have not yet been able to determine the age of the monument. One can access the monument by ascending the five hundred steps of Kali Strata.

Main Churches and Monasteries
  • The Chapel of Agios Emilianos is a charming chapel located on the islet of Agios Emilianos. The chapel is an ideal spots for enjoying the sunset. Usually, the circumnavigation of the island with the boats passes through this spot.
  • The Chapel of Virgin Mary of the Castle is a beautiful chapel located on the highest point of the castle. The chapel offers spectacular views of the surrounding areas.
  • The Cathedral of Timios Prodromos is beautiful church with a marvelous pebbled yard and an impressive bell tower located on the harbor of Gialos. The temple is connected with the most historical moments in the life of the island, as it is related to the resistance against its conquerors. At the entrance of the courtyard, various cultural events are held during the Festival of Symi.
  • The Monastery of Archangel Michael Panormitis is one of the most important pilgrimage centers of the Dodecanese located on southwest side of the island. The monastery was constructed from the architect Anastasis Karnavis in 1783 while it was decorated from the local iconographers namely Monk Neofytos and Kyriakos Karakostis. The impressive bell tower of Panormitis was built in a baroque style in the early 20 century, and resembles the bell tower of the monastery of Zagorsk in Moscow. Inside the monastery, one can visit an interesting folklore and ecclesiastical collection. The cells of the monastery can accommodate up to five hundred guests wishing to stay overnight. Excursions boats to the monastery operate from the harbour of Gialos.
  • The Monastery of Archangel Michael Roukouniotis is a fortified monastery located on the west side of the island. The monastery was constructed o n the remnants of an ancient temple from the Knights of Saint John during the 15 century. It consists from two interesting temples with significant murals within the courtyard shaded from an impressive umbrella-shaped cypress. The monastery celebrates in honor of the patron saint of Symi on November 8.

 

Symi Travel Guide : Amphoras

Museums and Monuments
  • The Archaeological and Folklore Museum of Symi is housed in the traditional mansion of the family of Gianeski in Horio. The museum exhibits a rich archaeological collection of inscriptions, pottery, textiles and musical instruments of the Classical, Hellenistic and Roman periods.
  • The Ecclesiastical and Folklore Museum of Symi is housed within the premises of the Monastery of Archangel Michael Panormitis. The museum exhibits an interesting collection of underwater antiquities and a collection of manuscripts, portable icons and sacred vessels.
  • The Maritime Museum of Symi is housed in a beautiful neoclassical building in the Square of Kambos. The museum exhibits artefacts from nautical equipment of old diving suits, maps and photographs and ships models of the local ships.
  • The Reading Room of Aigli is one of the most ancient libraries of the Aegean housed inside the Monastery of Archangel Michael Panormitis. The museum exhibits manuscripts of ecclesiastical, historical and philosophical content.
  • The Shipyard of Harani will take you back in time, as you will see the manner that fishing vessels were made with simple tools. Harani is the last preserved shipyard of the island that showcases the inextricable connection of the island with shipbuilding. During the Ottoman occupation, the residents of Symi gained special privileges from the Turks as they built the fastest ships.
Touring the Island
  • Gialos is the harbor of Symi located on the northern side of the island. The charming settlement is one of the most romantic villages of the Dodecanese embellished with neoclassical mansions and abandoned captain houses, cobblestone courtyards and pebbled mosaics that give an aura of nobility to the island. The two sides of the harbor are connected with the stone bridge, known as Kalderimi, that lead to the charming square of Kambos. The main stairway that leads to the capital of Symi, known as Horio, is called Kali Strata. The beautiful village has a traditional character with old mansions, charming chapels and labyrinthine cobblestoned alleys that spread towards the hillside. The entire area is crowned from the castle of the Knights standing on the highest point of the settlement. Since 1970, the whole settlement has been declared as preserved owing to the historical
    importance of the buildings.
  • Emborios, else known as Niborio, is a seaside settlement located on the northern side of the island. It is considered to be one of the most charming fishing settlements of the island with a nice pebbled beach. Emborios has a picturesque atmosphere with traditional houses and red tiled roofs. It is worth mentioning that a tavern operates in the village during the summer. Emborios is an ideal place for those looking for relaxation and peacefulness.
  • Pedi is a seaside settlement located on the northwest side of the island. The beautiful settlement has a peaceful atmosphere with beautiful natural surroundings. It is worth mentioning that Pedi is renowned for its delicious fish taverns. Pedi is ideal for those seeking for tranquility and calmness.
Beaches of Symi
  • Agios Emilianos is a pebbled beach with crystal clean waters located on the west side of the island. There, you will find the the beautiful chapel of Agios Emilianos. The beach is only accessible by boat.
  • Agios Georgios Disalonas is a pebbled beach with emerald waters located on the east side of the island. It is the most beautiful b each of the island lying in front of a vertical cliff of three hundred meters. The beach is accessible either through a hiking path from Pedi or by boat.
  • Agios Vasilios is a pebbled beach with crystal clear waters and cypress trees located on the west side of the island. It is a remote beach ideal for those looking for tranquillity. Agios Vasilios is an idyllic spot with rocky surroundings and an ideal place to enjoy the sunset. The easiest way to access the beach is by boat.
  • Agios Nikolas is a sandy beach with blue waters and pine trees located on the east side of the island. The beach is well organized with sunbeds and umbrellas, and a tavern. The beach is accessible either through a hiking path from Pedi or by boat.
  • Marathounda is a pebbled beach with emerald waters located on the south side of the island. It is an isolated beach ideal for those looking for peacefulness. A canteen operates at the beach.
  • Nanou is a pebbled beach with azure waters surrounded and cypress trees located on the southeast side of the island. It is one of the most scenic beaches of the island. A tavern operates at the beach.
  • Niborio is a pebbled bay with emerald waters located on the northwest side of the island. It is one of the most popular beaches of the island due to its close proximity to the center of the town.

Practical Information About Symi

How to Get to to Symi?

Symi can only be reached by boat or ferry. There is a ferry connection between Simi and Athens, as ferries depart from Piraeus port about 3 times a week. However, the trip is quite long and it lasts approximately 20 hours. If you are traveling from Athens to Simi, then it might be more convenient for you to reach Rhodes by plane within a one-hour trip  or  If you are traveling from Turkey it is advised to take a ferry to Rhodes from  Marmaris  and then travel to Simi by ferry from Rhodes. It is easy to take a day trip to Symi from Rhodes TownThere are two ferry departure points on Rhodes. Head to Kolonna port if you are taking the high-speed catamarans Dodekanisos Pride and Dodekanisos Express. Head to Akandia port if you are taking the car transport ferries Panagia Skiadeni and Blue Star Diagoras Naxos.

South Dodecanese Gulet Cruise | 8 Days

How to Get Around on Symi

If you rented a car on Rhodes and you’re on a day trip to Symi, leave the car behind. It is more convenient to walk around, hop on the bus, rent a scooter or grab a taxi. Even for the sights farther from the port, like Panormitis you can plan accordingly and catch the public bus.

Symi Travel Guide : Map
Weather in Symi

The most muggy month of the year is August. The highest humidity is in June and the lowest humidity is in January. Symi is one of those places where the weather is always pleasant. The average temperature for the entire year is 22℃ / 71℉. Regardless of the month there is no chance of seeing snow here. Symi is a perfect place to spend time in the sunshine. The most sunny months are: August, July, September, June, October.  Slight chance of rain occurs during: July, August, June. The biggest chances of rainfall in Symi occur in: January (48%), February(34%), December(34%). August, July, September are windy months in Symi. The most windy month is: August with 11 % chances for strong wind

 

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