Come and visit Ermoupolis, home of Dimitrios Vikelas, President of the 1st Olympic Committee (1896)
Ermoupolis, a major Aegean port and commercial centre, as well as the administrative capital of Cyclades prefecture since 1833, is located on the east coast of beautiful Syros island, the richest and most populous of the Cyclades. The town was founded in 1821 at the outbreak of the War of Greek Independence by Greek refugees from Psara and Chios, seeking refuge from Ottoman persecution.
The seat of both a Greek Orthodox and a Roman Catholic archbishopric, Ermoupolis is perched on two giant hills overlooking the port, which conveniently serve as distinct neighborhoods, a catholic hill, and an orthodox hill, each crowned by a majestic church, a very striking image. On the south hill, the old Catholic quarter of Ano Siros was founded in the 13th century by Venetians, on the site of the classical town. Crowned by the church of Aghios Georgios, it retains a strong medieval flavour with city walls, narrow cobbled streets and arcades, still inhabited by descendants of the 13th century Venetian and Genoan settlers, who remained under the Turks with protection from the kings of France. On the north hill is the Greek Orthodox quarter, Vrontado, crowned by the magnificent church of Anastassis.
A period of great wealth and elegance in the 17th and 18th centuries bequeathed Ermoupolis with neo-classic style buildings some of whom decorated with the works of great Italian and Greek painters, spacious public squares and impressive churches. The city's classical-revival architecture reflects its former importance as a trading centre. The central square with the massive Town Hall building is lined by cafes and provides a good starting point for a stroll from the church to the museum, to the market to the waterfront and beyond, with each turn on a corner revealing a pleasant surprise. The Apollo Municipal Theatre, a miniature version of Milan's fabled La Scala, the Town Hall, designed by the German architect Ernst Ziller, the Statue of Admiral Miaoulis, the museum devoted to the popular music composer Markos Vamvakaris (Ano Syros) and the Municipal Library are of great interest. The Archaeological Museum of Syros, founded in 1835, is one of the oldest in Greece. In 1899, the Municipality of Ermoupolis offered part of the Town Hall for the exhibition of antiquities, and since then, the museum has been housed there. It includes prehistoric finds from a fortified settlement found at Kastri, as well as finds from the cemetery at Halandriani dating back to the Early Bronze Age (3rd millennium BC). The church of Christ's Transfiguration (Metamorphosis) and the church of His Resurrection (Anastasis) on the north hill, as well as the Assumption of the Virgin (Koimisis Theotokou) with its icon of the Virgin painted by El Greco, are all well worth a visit.
Still the most active port in the Cyclades, a hub for sea traffic between the islands, Ermoupolis has dry-dock facilities and a vast roadstead that provides for safe and deep anchorage. The majority of its 15,000 population are employed at tanning industries, commerce, merchant marine and tourism. Boasting an excellent tourist infrastructure and a cosmopolitan ambience with its abundance of fine restaurants, night clubs, lively discos, picturesque tavernas, bars, cinemas and a casino, Ermoupolis is the popular destination for thousands of visitors each year. Ermopouleia, the cultural events organised there during the summer (July-August), are known for the great variety and quality that they offer and they attract many visitors each year, both from Greece and abroad.