Greek Islands Guide

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Symi, is a Greek island located 24 nautical miles from Rhodes and within 5 nautical miles from the Turkish coast. It is one of a group of Greek islands known as the Dodecanese.

Symi is the eighth largest island in the group, with a population of approximately 3000 which is only a fraction of what it was during the islands sponge fishing and shipbuilding heyday.

The magnificent neo-classical mansions, some dating from the 18th century, both in the harbour area known as Yialos, and in the high town known as Chorio, are reminders of Symi's past prosperity. Unfortunately, nearing the end of World War II, the Germans, on leaving the island destroyed much of the capital, but over recent years, although some buildings remain in ruins, others have been sympathetically restored, some as private residences and others as holiday accommodation.

The magnificent horseshoe shaped harbour, is one of the most beautiful small ports in the Greek islands. Around the harbour area can be found a good selection of cafes, bars and tavernas. Chorio, located higher up, is less developed, and retains more of a traditional Greek atmosphere. Chorio is reached by a steep climb of almost 400 steps known as the Kali Strata. Whereas the harbour area can become crowded, especially when the tour boats from Rhodes arrive, the upper town is very rarely anything but peaceful. Those who choose to make the clime, are rewarded with some incredible views.

The enclosed bay at Panormitis is dominated by the Monastery of the Archangel Michael, with its highly decorated, mock-Baroque bell tower. The monastery attracts many visitors throughout the summer, as after the monastery of St John on the island of Patmos, this is the second most important monastery in the whole of the Dodecanese. Archangel Michael is the patron saint of seafarers, so this site has added importance to Greek sailors throughout the world. In 1783 A nave was built on the remains of a Byzantine chapel. Since those days the monastery has expanded to such a degree that its guesthouse can accommodate up to 500 people.

The sand and shingle beach of Pedi Bay is one of the more popular beaches on Symi, and can be reached by walking from Chorio, or by takikng a taxi or small boat. Another popular beach named Nanou Nanou, is located in a large sweeping bay, this pebble beach can be reached by taxi-boat or via one of the small excursion boats that work out of the main harbour. The Beach of Agios Nikolaos is a sandy bay with a taverna and sun beds. Trees provide welcome shade from the sun. An easy walk around the headland from the harbour of Yialos, is Nos Beach and like most of the Symi beaches, is quite pebbly. Sea urchins can be a problem all around the coast of Symi, so rubber or plastic swim shoes, which are available from many of the tourist shops are advised.


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