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|ERMOUPOLIS OR ERMOUPOLI ON THE ISLAND OF SYROS, THE CAPITAL OF THE CYCLADES|
Ermoupolis looks nothing like the other Greek harbors in the Cyclades, but rather as a city like Paris. On the left side of the harbour are tankers, and there are high cranes. There are also ships in the dry-docks to be cleaned up. Most of them former ferries from distant countries, which are in this capital to get a lick of paint and new carpet before they will sail between the Greek islands. There is plenty of activity in the port and on the quay where the ferries arrive, and cars drive off and on. My advice is this: look beyond this, because on second glance, the island is not so busy as you would think. Behind the quay where all traffic is you find yourself directly in the silence. A lot of roads are not suitable for cars, just because they are steep and there are stairs instead. Because Syros does not have many beautiful beaches there are no cruise boats, and tourists are inclined to sail past the island. Partly because of this is the island remained authentic, with better and cheaper restaurants than on the more commercial neighbouring islands, and lower prices for people who look for an accommodation.
Ermoupolis is not a typical Cycladic city with white cubic houses, but instead you will find a lot of large houses of the nineteenth century (I though it had a bit an art-nouveau look, neo-classical, and sometimes it felt like walking through Paris). The buildings on the hill where the Roman Catholic church stands, form the old original Chora. If you want to go to one of the two churches on the hills be prepared to climb many stairs. The views you get as a reward will be great. I think this is really a nice city, because it is so different from any other places that I have seen on the Greek islands. There is also a relaxed atmosphere and the people are very friendly, not stressed or busy, what you might expect in a city of this size.
Ermoupolis has got the largest historic city centre of all the cities in Greece. To discover Ermoupolis you will need at least two days, and a great number of bottles of water: it is big and there are lots of stairs. Every now and then you need to get some rest from all the climbing. The city is "crowned" by an Orthodox and a Roman Catholic church that both stand on its own hill. Both are worth to visit, even if it is only for the spectacular views that you have when you have arrived on the destination. The most beautiful walk (and most tiresome) is without doubt the walk to the Roman Catholic church on the hill Ano Syros. The streets that lead to it are really beautiful. I recommend to take a different route take back than the one you used climbing up so you will see even more of this unspoilt Chora and all its lovely buildings and small churches. In many places there are flowers and gigantic bougainvillas. The paths go up and down and around every corner there is a surprise. On top you have the most beautiful views of the city and the port. This church and the Greek Orthodox one are both open to the public, so you can even look inside. It's quiet, because not many people want to make the climb, especially when it is hot. The Roman Catholic Church is also prettier on the inside than the Greek Orthodox church, with big light blue vaults and a Jesus on the cross. In the evening, both churches are put in the spotlights.
The heart of Ermoupolis is Miaouli square with the large Town Hall from 1898, where you are reminded just how important the city has been in the nineteenth century. The stately building is flanked by huge palm trees and has the grandeur of a palace. In a lot of places in the city there is the most expensive pavement, because everywhere is marble instead of stone or asphalt.
In the evening, it seems as if all the inhabitants of the port Ermoupolis come to to the port to eat and drink, and to be seen. There is a cozy Greek crowd of families with children that populate the many restaurants and cafes, and groups of young people groups stroll along the quay. There are not that many tourists, but it's really pleasant. It seems as if the people do not watch television or concern about the household. Instead, they are all enjoy the evenings outside.