SYMI - THE ISLAND OF BATTALIONS
Symi is one of the most beautiful islands of the Archipelago between Rhodes and Turkey. The island, apart from its picturesqueness, also stands out for its aesthetics, it is mainly mountainous with many rocks without many high mountains. Symi and the surrounding islands have been declared archeological sites by the Central Archaeological Council. The city is divided into two settlements in Gialos where the houses are built amphitheatrically and in the village which is built on the slope of Mount Vigla. Smaller settlements are Emporios, Pedi, Marathounta and Panormitis. The capital of Symi, the Village or Ano Symi, joins the port of the island with the famous Kali Strata, which consists of 500 stone steps connecting Gialos with the Village. It was once the only connecting link between Gialos and Chorio, full of the best mansions and shops of the island. A trademark of the Village are the old stone mills at its entrance, some of which have been renovated.
On the west side of the village, at the highest point dominates the Castle built on the ruins of an ancient and Byzantine castle and at the top the church of Megali Panagia or Kyra as it is called. It is worth visiting Pontikokastro, a prehistoric mound, which is one of the oldest monuments on the island. One should not forget to visit the Archaeological and Folklore Museum in the Lieni district, which is housed in a restored traditional mansion. In the halls it displays exhibits from various periods that reveal important aspects of the history of the island. Gialos is the natural port of the island around which the largest settlement is built amphitheatrically. In Gialos, the Clock Tower stands out at the entrance of the port, which is the registered trademark. On both sides of the tower there are 2 clock faces on opposite sides which work and are accurate. In front is the statue of the little Fisherman known as "Michalaki'' work of the sculptor Balsamis.
Next is the square of Kampos in which the center is the Hero and the bust of the history teacher Mich. Volonaki. In Gialos is the Naval Museum of the island, with miniatures of ships, instruments and naval tools and all the accessories of traditional sponge fishing. The second port of Symi is Emporios on the west side of the island, a picturesque settlement with a beautiful beach. There are the "Twelve Caves" , twelve Byzantine domes that served as sculpture and painting workshops. Pedi is a seaside village in the bay of the same name with a beautiful sandy beach, olive trees, vineyards and fruit trees. The area attracts lovers of religious tourism, as it has ruins of early Christian churches and the church of Agios Georgios with the unique gilded iconostasis. In the gulf of Panormos is the patron saint of Symi, protector of the Dodecanese, of sailors and spongers, the Archangel Michael of Panormitis. In the center of the building complex of the Monastery dominates the unique art towering Bell Tower.
The beaches of the island are famous for their transparent waters, although most of them are accessible only by boats as they are difficult to access by land. The most popular beach of the island is Nos organized and easily accessible by land, the closest to the settlement of Symi and Pedi. The beach of Ag. Georgios Dysalonas on the east side of the island is one of the most beautiful, impressive and idyllic beaches due to the vertical rock with deep green waters and thick pebbles. Nanou in the east of the island with the wonderful turquoise waters, the big white pebbles, the amazing rocky landscape and the little goats that roam freely is only accessible by boat. Agios Nikolaos is an ideal choice for hiking enthusiasts as they get there through the picturesque path that connects it with Pedi. It is organized, with sunbeds and umbrellas, has crystal clear waters, sand and fine pebbles, ideal for children. Panormitis is an ideal choice for children thanks to the shallow waters and the tamarisk trees that provide generous shade and are accessible from the land. The islet of Sekli south of Panormitis has a beach with sand, pebbles and tamarisk trees, near the church of Agios Pavlos.
In Symi, of course, seafood plays a leading role in gastronomy. The characteristic taste proposal of the island is the Symian shrimp, a rare variety of tiny shrimp that is served fried. Fish, seafood and shellfish stand out in the local gastronomy and another special specialty is the gelopitakia, also known as atherinopitakia. For meat eaters, typical dishes are the rooster pastitsada with thick spaghetti and the chicken with almonds, a unique recipe. Vegetarians should try the famous fakorizo boiled lentils with rice,fried with finely chopped dried onions in plenty of olive oil. For dessert, it is worth trying donuts or akoumia with wonderful local honey, rusks of various types as well as cookies, butter or sweets. There are also workshops on the island for the manufacture of traditional costumes, boats, carved furniture and iconostasis, handmade shoes, embroidery, fishing equipment, small shipbuilding, livestock equipment (saddles, backpacks, bells, petals, etc.). looms, and a foundry for making bells.