Infobox Greek Isles
name = Symi
native_name = Σύμη
skyline = Greece Symi.jpg
sky_caption = Yialos, Symi Harbour, seen from Chorio

coordinates = coord|36|35|N|27|50|E
chain = Dodecanese
isles = 12
area = 58.1
highest_mount =
elevation = 617
periph = South Aegean
prefect = Dodecanese
capital = Symi (city)
population = 2606
pop_as_of = 2001
postal = 856 00
telephone = 224x0-7x
license = ΚΧ, ΡΟ, PK
website = []

Symi (Greek: Σύμη, also transliterated Syme or Simi) is a small but historic Greek island and municipality.


Geographically, it is part of the Dodecanese island chain, located about 41 km north-northwest of Rhodes (and 425 km from Piraeus, the port of Athens), with 58.1 km² (22 sq mi) of mountainous terrain. Its nearest land neighbors are the Datça and Reşadiye peninsulas of Muğla Province in Turkey. Its interior is dotted with small valleys, and its coastline alternates between rocky cliffs and beaches, and isolated coves. Its main town, located on the northeast coast, is also named Symi, or Ano Symi, but typically referred to as Yialos. The other main inhabited localities on the island are Horio ("The Village"), Pedi, Nimborio, and Panormitis which is the home of the island's famous monastery which many people from all over Greece submit to a pilgrimage every year to visit. The island has 2,606 inhabitants, mostly engaged in fishing, trade, and tourism. In the tourist season which is roughly May until October, tourists and day-trippers bring the number of people on the island up to as much as 6000. [ [ An Ethnography of Tourism on Symi: Research Report, Sean Damer (2003)] ] In addition to its many historical sites, the island's isolated beaches, many reachable only with small boats, are popular with tourists. The Municipality of Sými includes the uninhabited offshore islets of Gialesíno, Diavátes, Kouloúndros, Marmarás, Nímos, Sesklío, and Chondrós. Its total land area is 65.754 km².


In Greek mythology, Symi is reputed to be the birthplace of the Charites and to take its name from the nymph Syme (in antiquity the island was known as Aigli and Metapontis), though Pliny the Elder and some later writers claimed it came from the word "scimmia" meaning a monkey. [ [ Symi in Myth] ] In Homer's "Iliad" the island is mentioned as the domain of King Nireus, who fought in the Trojan War on the side of the Greeks. Thucydides writes that during the Peloponnesian War there was a Battle of Syme near the island in January, 411 BC, in which an unspecified number of Spartan ships defeated a squadron of Athenian vessels. Little is known of the island until the 14th century, but archaeological evidence indicates it was continuously inhabited, and ruins of citadels suggest it was an important location. It was first part of the Roman Empire and then the Byzantine Empire, [ [ Byzantine Symi] ] until its conquest by the Knights of St. John in 1373. [ [ Conquest by the Knights] ]

Ottoman Era

This conquest, fueled by the Knights' interest in shipping and commerce, launched what was to be a period of several centuries of prosperity for Symi, as its location amidst the Dodecanese made it an important waypoint for trade until the advent of steam-powered shipping in the 19th century. The island was conquered from the Knights by the Ottoman Empire in 1522 (along with nearby Rhodes) but it was allowed to retain many of its privileges, so its prosperity continued virtually uninterrupted. Under the Ottomans the island was called "Sömbeki". Symi was noted for its sponges which provided much of its wealth. It attained the height of its prosperity in the mid 19th century, and many of the peculiarly colorful neoclassical mansions covering the slopes near the main city date from that period. [ [ Symi under the Ottomans] ] Although Symiots took part in the Greek War of Independence of 1821–1829, it was left out of the new Greek state when its borders were drawn up and so remained under Ottoman rule. [ [ Symi in the Greek Revolution] ]

Modern era

The island, along with the rest of the Dodecanese, changed hands several times in the 20th century: in 1912 the Dodecanese declared independence from the Ottomans as the Federation of the Dodecanese Islands though this was almost immediately occupied by Italy. The island was formally ceded to Italy in 1923 and in 1943 it was occupied by the Nazis. At the end of World War II, the surrender of German forces in the region took place on Symi and the island was subject to several years of occupation by the British. [ [ Οι ανοιπότακτοι της Σύμης - Βρετανική κατοχή στα Δωδεκάνησα, Ελευθέριος I. Διακογιάννης] ] Symi was finally rejoined with Greece in 1948.

The island has become a haven for tourists from abroad and is now the permanent home of about 120 non-Greek residents. [ [ Number on Electoral Roll 2006] ] Some of the island's abandoned neo-classical homes have been purchased by non-Greeks and revamped. Cobi Sanders, a long time resident of the island and influential painter, is one such example of Symi's changing demographics.



*The Monastery of the Archangel Michael [ Panormitis] [ [ Αρχάγγελος Μιχαήλ ο Πανορμίτης στη Σύμη] ] is a Greek Orthodox monastery built on the southwest coast in the early 18th century. It overlooks a bay, and is still inhabited by monks.
*The Kastro overlooks the main town of Symi, Ano Symi. It was built by the Knights of St. John as an expansion of a Byzantine castle on the same site, many parts of which are still visible. There are also remnants of an ancient citadel on which the two later castles were built.
*The municipal clock tower which was bult circa 1880
*The War memorial in the harbour consists of a monument "the Dove of Peace" in front of a bas-relief scultpure of a Trireme
*The town of Symi alone has thirteen major churches and dozens of chapels, some dating back to the Byzantine era.
*The village of Nimborio has surviving ancient Pelasgian walls and a set of twelve domes remaining from workshops used by artists.


Since 1995, Symi has hosted the renowned Symi Festival during the months of July to September [ [ Symi Festival] ] [ [ Symi Festival reports and reviews] ] . This festival has attracted many of the leading Greek musicians (Eleutheria Arvanitaki, Alkistis Protopsalti, etc.) to perform at free open-air concerts in the main square of Yialos, and also consists of many dance and theatre events.

ee also

*List of traditional Greek place names


External links

* [ Official website] en el icon

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