Introduction - About Symi Island
Symi belongs to the Dodecanese islands complex and lies 24 nautical miles NW of Rhodes and 255 nautical miles from the port of Piraeus. The highest point is Mountain Vigla at 616 metres. The island is very close to the coast of Asia Minor, just 5 miles from Alopos. It is not a very big island, only 67 square kilometres. The majority of the land is covered in rocks.
Symi is one of the smaller holiday islands in the Dodecanese group just 9km off the Turkish coast and about an hour by boat north from Rhodes.
Symi is a popular islands for day trippers from Rhodes.
Two settlements form the town of Symi : Chorio (Village) and Gialos ( Harbour). Pedi, found in the bay of the same name and Nimporios in the bay of the same name, have a few inhabitants. There is also a big monastery complex, Panormitis, where around 30 people live and take care of the monastery.
At Gialos you may find a medical centre, a post office, the police station, the port police, the town hall, telephone service (OTE), two banks : Alpha Bank and National Bank of Greece, hotels, rooms to let, restaurants, tavernas, fast food, goldsmiths, bakeries, tourist shops, supermarkets, confectioners, bars, tourist agencies, fruit shops, corner shops, a fitness center, a flower shop, bus and taxi terminals.
At Village, you may find a medical centre, hotels, rooms to let, restaurants, tavernas, bakeries, tourist shops, supermarkets, bars, fruit shops, corner shops, a flower shop, bus and taxi stations.
In the interior of Symi there is road that leads from Gialos to Panormitis and you can go through it either by car, or by bike or by foot through a pined, cypressed, holm - oaked forest. This is a walk you can do alone or with the help of guides, who are appointed by tourist offices.
There are a number of islets around Symi, such as Nimos, which is the largest one, as well as Sesklia, Artikonisi, Koulountro, Troubeto, Chondros, Plati, Oxia, Diabates, Marmaras. All these small islands can be visited with caiques, or small boats.
The island's History begins in ancient times and some of it's ancient names were KARIKI,AIGLI,AND METAPONTIS. The island got it's current name from the Nymph Symi ,who according to mythology married the god of the seas Poseidon ,and brought to life Hthonios who became the leader of the islands inhabitants.
It is Postulated that the island's first inhabitants were the Carians and the leleges. Homer mentions Symi in the Heliade ,for it's participation in the Trojan war with tree ships ,headed by the Symiot King Nireas.`
Having gone through it's own history during the ancient and Byzantine period .(this is when the islands fortress was built),Symi was conquered in 1309 by the Knights of John. This is when a period of prosperity begins for the island with the development of shipping ,sponge commerce ,boat and big other crafts .
The neoclassical mansions ,which remain intact to this DAY,and the most of the islands churches were build in that period. The houses begun to spread outside the castle area and the same time .many of the up to then traditional settlements were abandoned.
Simi was conquered to the Turks in 1522. In an attempt to preserve as many rights as they could ,the Symiots offered gifts to the Sultan and gained in return the grant of many special privileges such as the freedom of religious expression and speech. Great progress was achieved in letters and Grafts and schools such as the Agia Marina Academy were founded 1756-1821
Prosperity in Shipping and commerce gave the Symiots the opportunity to support the national war of independence from the Turkish dominion both by financially supporting in the war and also by financially supporting this national cause.
Unfortunately in 1832 Symi was Found once again under the Turkish dominion which in 1912 was succeeded by the Italian dominion which was particularly harsh on the locals. Once very prosperous , Simi confronted povertly - at time the replacement of sailing with motor ships also occurred ,sponge diving decreased and world war 2 begun resulting in great migration wave of Symiots abroad.
From 1943 when the Italian dominion ceased and onwards ,Symi changed Hands several times between English and Germans, with the English taking over the island for the 3rd time on Septemper 25 1944 date when the island's Castle and its surroundings were blown up
On May 8th 1945 the Germans signed the Treaty of Dodecanese Surrender, with on April 1st 1947 the British Military Command handed over its rights to Greek one
At last,it was on Symi that on March 8th 1948 the protocol of Integration of all Dodecanese islands to the Greek state was Signed.