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So much to explore...
Paraportiani - Mykonos
Picturesque Villages
Magical settings
The majesty of Santorini
Beautiful sunsets
One of the most significant civilisations that ever flourished in Greece has its roots in the Cycladic isles. Signs of the Clycladic civilisation date back to 3000 years BC. The famous Cycladic marble statues were sculptured during the so-called Early Cycladic period, 3000-2000 BC, when people here lived in houses, built boats and mined obsidian and exported it throughout the Mediterranean. The Minoans occupied the islands in the Middle Cycladic period, 2000-1500 BC, followed by the Mycenaeans around the 15th century, at the beginning of the Late Cycladic period. Cyclades had become very prosperous after the arrival of the Romans in 190 BC, but the inability of the Byzantines to protect them from pirate raids signalled their decline. When Constantinople fell to the Franks in 1204, the Cycladic isles passed to the sovereignty of the Venetians, followed by the creation of the Duchy of Naxos, along with smaller baronies and counties - protectorates of West European states. During the long-lasting Western occupation, many islanders accepted Catholicism and even today large Catholic communities enrich the culture of these islands. Starting from 1453, Turkish occupation came sooner or later to all the islands of the archipelago. The constant struggle between western states and the Ottoman power for supremacy in the region favoured the roaming pirate fleets. In an effort to disorientate attackers, the local architecture devised the labyrinthine town planning with narrow streets, which is the main feature in most towns. The islands were revived by the tourism boom that begun in 1970s, after the world "discovered" their natural beauty, with their dazzling white buildings and bright-blue church domes, unusual landscapes, mild and pleasant climate with long periods of sunshine and strong winds to keep down the heat, sandy beaches, caves, traditional customs and architecture.

The whole of the Cyclades is one vast tourist attraction, offering memorable scenes in its every little corner. That said, we could start describing a few of the conventional sights from Ermoupolis (city of Hermes) in the island of Syros. Near the waterfront of this 19th century commercial and naval centre, is the impressive Miaoulis Square. Adorned with statue of the Greek hero of the war of independence, after which it is named and a bandstand, it acquires a cosmopolitan air once evening falls. To the west side of the town hall, which dominates the square, is the Syros Archaeological Museum, housing significant exhibits from other Cycladic isles, courtesy of being the capital of Cyclades. The island of Mykonos lacks archeological or historical sites, but Mykonos Town (Hora) offers plenty by way of compensation. A row of houses known as "Little Venice", with their multicolored wooden balconies hanging over the sea, provide one of the townūs picture-postcard views. The town has an Archeological Museum, hosting finds from the islet of Rinia, the burial grounds of Delos. The beautiful Windmill Museum, a Maritime Museum and a Folklore Museum, all contribute in presenting the various aspects of life and culture in Mykonos during the past few centuries. From Mykonos, it is easy to explore the nearby sacred island of Delos, with excursion boats running day trips to this, today uninhabited, island. South of Mykonos island, the port-town Parikia offers the main attractions of Paros. The town has a remarkable architectural monument: the 6th century AD cathedral church of "Ekatontapylliani" (meaning Our Lady of 100 doors) ’ for the building is supposed to have had as many. Tradition claims that the architect of the church was Isidoros of Miletus, one of the architects responsible for the construction of the wondrous Agia Sofia in Constantinople. The oldest part of the church is built on Roman ruins. Much of them have been uncovered and displayed along with other exhibits, in the townūs Archaeological Museum, which is situated behind the church. In its own right a unique destination, Santorini is a pole of attraction for tourists, historians, geologists, archaeologists, and people who wish to witness one of our planetūs most significant geological phenomena - but still a rare natural beauty with one of the prettiest sunsets in the Mediterranean, especially from the town of Oia. Striking Oia is also famous for its passageways, which get crowded in the evenings, and has several commercial galleries, as well as a maritime museum. The capital, Fira, is built on the edge of the volcano caldera and offers spectacular views of the cliffs with their multicoloured strata of lava and pumice. In addition to Fira and Oia, there are three major sights ’ the Minoan town of Akrotiri, the Helenistic town, known as ancient Thira and the caldera Volcano Islands, the land that is still being created by the volcanic activity.

Even though each island shares similarities to the other Cycladic islands, each one retains its own character and charm. Their inhabitants, hospitable and simple, live harmoniously with and have adapted to the idiosyncrasies of nature. Myconians and Parians, in spite of the thousands of partying tourists on their isles, have managed to preserve their traditional customs. It seems that manūs eccentricities are swept away by the strong winds that blow over the Aegean. In Santorini, the inhabitants bear in mind the legacy of Atlantis (said to be situated on their island) and respect the might of nature, building for ages their inimitable anti-earthquake, barrel-vaulted houses in accordance with the landscape, regardless of pressure by tourism. Syros, in contrast, is probably the sole island in the group whose economy does not depend on tourism. It has a highly developed ship-building industry now reviving after a decline in recent years, textile factories, dairy farms and a horticultural industry supplying the rest of the Cyclades with fruit and vegetables.