Syros History

According to the archaeological evidence, Syros was first inhabited in prehistoric times (4000 BC) and later in the Cycladic period (3000 BC). In the areas of Kastri and Chalandriani, graves and settlements have been discovered.

The first reference to Syros was made by Homer, who referred to it as "Syrie". The first settlers in the history of Syros were the Phoenicians who used to move around the Cyclades. Traces of ancient settlements from the 7th century BC were found on the hill of Agia Pakous, in Galissas and west of Ermoupolis. During the 6th century, Syros was inhabited by the Samians, one of whom was the great philosopher Ferekidis, who later became the teacher of Pythagoras.

Ancient Ermoupolis was built by the Ionians and was later settled by the Persians, Romans, Franks, and Turks, who left their cultural traces in the area. During the Roman years, the relics of the old capital, built on the site of the present Ermoupolis and the bronze coins of Syros, witnessed great economic development. However, the Venetians played a major role in the cultural development of the island, making Syros an important trade center of the Eastern Mediterranean. The constant pirate invasions, though, forced the inhabitants of Syros to move the capital on top of the hill, where today lies the medieval settlement of Ano Syros, with the church of Saint Georgio.

When the French conquered the island in the 17th century, Syros was inhabited by a great number of Catholics, the known capuchins who founded a small monastery that remains open to this day. The island flourished greatly following the Greek Revolution of 1821 when a massive wave of emigrants from Chios, Psara, Crete, and Asia Minor settled in Syros and started using the island as the center of their trading and maritime activities. This was a huge economic boost for Syros. At the same time, the wealthy families of Syros took the initiative to erect numerous buildings, like schools and theatres. The prosperous period lasted until the early 20th century with the arrival of the German troops to Syros. Thousands of people died from famine and diseases during that period and the local economy was destroyed.

The improvement of the economy started around the 1980s, with tourism being the main source of income for the island. Thankfully, the rich past and charming architecture made Syros a favorite destination for numerous tourists. The reopening of the shipyards and other side actions also helped the island get back on track and gain the reputation it has to this day.