The few who can resist the superb spectacle of the town of Symi stretching its impeccable architecture –Symi is more than words or photos can say!
In the Byzantine years, economic activities involved shipping, ship building, commerce, sponge fishing, and viniculture. To develop the latter, the Symians had built 120 wine presses all over the island, 11 of which have been reconstructed with the use of their own rock parts; a visit to them is worthwhile as it requires a walk through the refreshing cypress forest of the area of Kourkouniotis.
Part of the Dodecannese island chain, Symi is located 41km north-northwest of Rhodes. Its main town, commonly referred to by the same name as the island itself, is divided in two parts: the harbourside one, called Gialós, and the adjacent one on the slopes of the hills, called Chorió (=village).
A galore of two and three-storey traditional stone houses, painted in all colours but mostly in indigo, ochre and terracotta, with red tiled roofs and cute little balconies with railings set up the peculiarity of Symi.
The entrance of the horseshoe-shaped port is dominated by Rolói, a clock tower. Right in front of it there is the statue of the fisher boy, Michalaki (= little Michael) which seems to be welcoming the visitors to the island. It is on this same side of the port that the “Dove of Peace”, a beautiful sculpture, has landed to represent a war memorial.There is a stony stairway of 500 steps leading to the upper part of the town. The locals call it Kalí Stráta, which means “good way”
Overlooking Chorió there is Kástro (= castle). Actually, it is the remnants of a castle built by the knights of St John in the 14th century as an expansion to an old byzantine castle on the same site.
Although mountainous, the island is dotted with small valleys. One of those beautifully reaches the sea to form an enticing cove. It’s on that coast that you’ll find the scenic village of Pedi. On the way to it and if it is August 15, don’t miss the genuinely traditional folk festival of the monastery of Panagia Altheini.
Another big feast is held at Panagia Myrtariotissa, right on the same day. Meanwhile, for meditating and marveling at frescoes of the 15th century, visit the fortified monastery of Michail Roukouniotis.
One of the island’s most famous landmarks is the monastery of the Archangel Michael Panormitis on the southwest coast. Built in the early 18th century, it overlooks the bay bearing its name, in an awesome setting combining mountain and sea. What is more, it is dominated by the imposing built-in-1905 bell tower.During the summer months, the monks accommodate visitors in the cells of the monastery for a token charge.
There is no lack of beautiful beaches on the island. Tourists love the fact that many of them are off the beaten track and reachable only by (taxi) boat. Some of them are sandy, some of them are pebbly, some of them are situated on small islets around Symi (Agia Marina, Agios Emilianos, Nimos, Sesklia) but all of them are bathed by crystal clear water.
Picturesque tavernas by the sea, fine restaurants and traditional ouzo and meze tavernas will cater for you with delicious tastes, among which fresh fish and seafood knock spots off. What is more, you will enjoy chickpeas with dill, stuffed cabbage leaves with fava, fishballs, goat cheese, and other goodies.
There are the boats that connect Symi to Rhodes, as As it is widely known, to Rhodes one can also fly directly from abroad or from Athens.You may also access daily to Rhodes by boat from Marmaris.