Symi’s history can be traced back to the Trojan Wars (1120 BC). Numerous invaders, from the Dorians, the Romans, the Turks, and the Italians, made Symi a strategically important island that was both occupied and bombed.
Before the Italian invasion, Symi’s population of about 22,500 inhabitants prospered with ship-building, sponge fishing, wine-making, and wood carving. In 1947, Symi and the rest of the Dodecanese islands became part of Greece. Now its primary industry is tourism.
Symi is one of the warmest Dodecanese Greek islands. In the summer, temperatures regularly reach over 40 °C. The winter months are much rainier than the summer months. Since Symi is in the eastern part of the Aegean Sea, it is less affected by the Meltemi, the northerly wind that blows in summer on the central Aegean Sea.
Places to see
- The town of Symi consists of the beautiful settlement of Chorio and its natural port, Gialos.
- Pedi Village is a small traditional fishing village with a stony beach and fine soft sand.
- Emporios (Nimporios) Village was a commercial harbor in ancient times. Today, it’s one of Symi’s most picturesque fishing settlements, with an attractive pebbled beach.
- The Holy Monastery of Archangel Michael Panormitis. This is the main monastery of Symi Island, dedicated to the Archangel Michael.
- The Monastery of the Archangel Michael at Roukouniotis.
- Byzantine Wine Presses. There are more than 130 stone wine presses on Symi, and they are in the cypress forests in the southern lowland (Ambeli) around Sotiri to Magalou and stretch across to Kourkouniotis.
- The Naval Museum. The museum displays exciting items such as old maps, ship models, and other items that depict the island’s long marine and sponge-fishing traditions.
- The Archaeological Museum of Symi.
Things to do
- Climb Kali Strata, the main stairway from Gialos to Chorio, where you’ll find gorgeous views over the bay.
- Walk. Trails provide excellent views. However, you may need a guide since many are not well-marked.
- Swim. Marathounda Beach is suitable for both swimming and snorkeling.
- Go to the beach. Famous beaches include Nos Beach, Nimporios Beach, Pedi Beach, Gialos Beach, and Panormitis Beach.
The cuisine of Symi is bound to the sea. There are abundant fresh fish, shrimp, octopus, squid, and fresh vegetables and grains.
You’ll find many restaurants serving fresh fish, but you can also find local dishes such as chickpeas with mushrooms and dill and lachanondolmades (grape leaves stuffed with white cabbage). Fish dishes may be the first choice on the island. However, it’s worth a try if you find a local casserole goat.
As for sweets, try Misokofti. It is a type of mustalevria, a traditional Greek pudding-like dessert that combines ripe fragosika (prickly pear) pulp, niseste (cornstarch), and sugar.
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