Syros

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Ermoupoli stands on a naturally amphitheatrical site, with neo-classical buildings, old mansions and white houses cascading down to the harbour. The City Hall, where Miaoulis Square lies ringed with cafes and with seating areas under palm trees, has a grandeur[peacock term] all of its own. The "City of Hermes" has numerous churches, the most interesting[peacock term] of which are Metamorphosis, Koimisis, St. Demetrius, Three Hierarchs, Anastasis, Evangelistria and St. Nicolas. The Archaeological Museum has a collection of notable[peacock term] finds and the Municipal Library contains numerous interesting[peacock term] and rare[peacock term] editions. The quarter of the town known as Vaporia, where the sea captains lived, is of special interest[peacock term]. Along its narrow streets, stand numerous neo-classical mansions.

Ano Syros is the second town of Syros and was built by the Venetians at the beginning of the 13th century on the hill of San Giorgio, north-west of Hermoupolis. Ano Syros maintains a medieval atmosphere. Innumerable steps between narrow streets and houses with coloured doors lead to the top of the town. The medieval settlement of Ano Syros is accessible by car; the town is served mostly by marble steps. The distance from the harbour up to the main entry point of the town is approximately 1000 metres. The Catholic cathedral of Saint George dominates Ano Syros. The cathedral church was constructed during the 13th century. From the cathedral visitors have a panoramic view of the neighbouring islands of Tinos, Delos, Mykonos, Paros, Andros and Naxos

It was first called Syra, then Syros or Siros, and appears in ancient times to have been inhabited by the Phoenicians. In the Odyssey, Syros was the country of the swineherd Eumaeus who described it at length (Odyssey, XV, 403 sq.). The island was also the home of the philosopher Pherecydes, the teacher of Pythagoras. It possessed two leading cities, Syros (now the modern Ermoupoli) and another city on the western coast where stands to-day Galissas.

The island did not play an important role during antiquity nor the early Christian years[citation needed], it was not even a diocese at a time when even the smallest island possessed its bishop. During Roman times the capital of Syros was situated in the area of contemporary Ermoupoli.
By the 16th century, the Ottoman fleet became dominant in the Aegean and the Ducat fell apart. In 1522 the corsair Barbarossa took possession of the island, which would be known as "Sire" during Ottoman rule.[2] Syros. However, negotiations of the local authorities with the Ottomans gave the Cyclades substantial privileges, such as the reduction of taxes and religious freedom.

At the same time, following an agreement of France and the Holy See with the Ottoman authorities, the Catholics of the island came under the protection of France and Rome.

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