Sifnos

The Island of Sifnos  in the Western Cyclades


Sifnos belongs the the Western Cyclades group and is situated between the closest islands of Kimolos (10 nautical miles), Serifos (12 nautical miles), Paros (14 nautical miles) and Milos (20 nautical miles).  It is wedge shaped, to which it owes one of its ancient names, Akis.  It is 18 kms long and 8kms wide with an area of 74 square kms, a coastline of 28 nautical miles and it is 75 nautical miles from Piraeus.

The landscape is sculpted, forming hills, the highest of which is Prophet Ilias or Ai Nigia (680 m).  The sea forms picturesque bays, some with spacious, sandy beaches and elsewhere, small and hidden, such as: Kamares, Platis, Yialos, Vathy, Faros, Vliho, Fykiada etc...  The deserted island of Kitriani also belongs to Sifnos and has a unique building, the Chapel of Kipriani in the S.E. and a short distance from Plati Yialos.  The approximately 2000 residents occupy themselves with farming, stock breeding and fishing, but mainly with pottery (to a degree that the name of Sifnos became synonymous with the potter), the merchant navy school and with tourism.

Of all the products of Sifnos, the most famous are honey, wine, manouri, sour mizithra cheese, capers, figs, almond sweets, pastry rolls, traditional Christmas biscuits (kourabiedes), pretzels, sesame and honey sweets (pasteli), honey pie and above all, the fantastic ceramic products and woven goods.

Administratively, Sifnos is linked with the province of Milos and is in the prefecture of the Cyclades.  The island was divided into communities of Apollona and Artemona in 1914 but after an agreement reached in 1999, they made up a single council of Sifnos.

Sifnos was named after a hero in Attika's Sunio.  Other names were Akis, probably from its pointed and triangular shape, and Meropi, probably when the island was dominated by Minoans and Meropi who was the granddaughter of Minoa, daughter of Ariadne and Inopiona.  During the years of the French occupation, Sifnos, like other Cycladic islands, was variously named Sifinos, Sifounos, Sifano, Sifana and Sifanto.


THE CASTLE

The castle was the capital of Sifnos during antiquity, the Medieval and the later period until 1836, as well as the home of the Archbishop of Sifnos (1646 - 1797) and the Bishop of Sifnomilo (1797 - 1852).  Visitors today enter the castle through the old entrance gates, the "Lozies", which once secured and protected the War Towers.  Streets and the square inside the castle are built above the roofs of single storey houses which are used today as warehouses.  The old chimneys of the ground floor residences for the extraction of smoke from fire places, were constructed on the vertical wall which boundaries the road.

Within the old town  today there are rooms to let, restaurants and confectioners.  Finally, at the southern foot of  the hill  exists Yialos or Seralia (Serayia, Sarai, in Turkish, Saray) the ancient port of Sifnos, meaning palace, maybe from the magnificent buildings which existed during the Turkish occupation in the valley of Yialos.  Here, today there are fish restaurants and rooms to let.

CHURCHES AND MONASTERIES

Many of the the churches and monasteries of Sifnos have been classified as monuments and have a long history and architectural interest.

The following are worthy of mention: Panayia Angeloktisti in Katavati, the Monastery of Prophet Ilias tou Psilou, the Monastery of Hrissostomo in Kato Petali, Panayia ta Gournia in Pano Petali, Agios Antypas in Pano Petali, Agios Konstantinos  in Artemona, Panayia of Ammou and Panayia Konhi in Artemona, Panayia Eleousa in the castle, Monastery Panayia Poulati, Panayia of the mountain and monastery of the Virgin Mary, Hryssopigi.

There are 27 churches all together on the island.  The churches of special interest are all in Kastro, whilst the church of Hryssopigi, Panayia Vrissi, Monastery of Panayia Vouno, Angeloktisti Katavatis, Agios Sozo, Panayia Kohi, Panayia ta Gournia, Panayia  i Ammo, Agios Yiorgios Afentis, Agios Loukas and Agios Konstantinos.

Ancient Towers - Ancient Citadels - Old Mines

Fifty-five ancient towers are found scattered all over the island, the most ancient were built in the 6th century BC and the latest in the 3rd century BC.  Aspros is the only one in good condition.  The towers were built after the invasion of the Samians and their aim was to communicate with the ancient Acropolis.  Later, the network developed and the system of exchanging signs spread over the whole of the island.  Communication methods, as mentioned by Thoukydidis, must have been smoke or fire.


MUSEUMS

The Archaeological Museum in Kastro has displays of archaic and Hellenistic sculptures.  It was restored by the Ministry of Culture at the beginning of the 1980s and since 1986, is working normally.  The Museum of Folklore in Apollonia (in Hero square ) is owned by the Sifnos Union and it contains exhibits of traditional island life, such as agricultural tools, household artefacts, local costumes etc...

The Museum of Ecclesiastical Art is situated at the Monastery of Vrissiani.  There are manuscripts, coded scripts, ancient published printed matter, the Evangelio (Gospels) of 1796, reliquary, icons of cherubs, sacred objects, icons and the embroidered chasuble of Kassiani.

The settlements of Sifnos take many various forms.  Kastro was built purely as a means of defence.  Its medieval character has remained unaltered with narrow streets full of marble carvings of carnivores, the "Lozies" (gates through which one can enter into the settlement) and of course, the remains of the castle, which dominated its top.  Most of the houses are 2 or 3 storeys, having an entrance on both back and front. 

Most of the traditional settlements are concentrated in the central plateau of the island, resulting in the non-separation of the boundaries, giving them the impression of a continual settlement without a beginning or an end.  A traditonal pedestrian path from Artemona ends at Katavati after passing the settlements of Ano Petali and Apollonia, though there is a stone-paved connection with Ai Louka, Exambela, Kato Petali and Kastro.

The area of Artemona is known for its distinguished houses.  They have developed settlements around all the beaches parallel to the sea shore.  The first buildings were old potteries with chimneys, built close to the beach in order to aid immediate loading of fishing boats with ceramics.


LOCAL EVENTS

The main festivals on the island take place at the monastery of Hryssopigi, on the Eve of Ascension Day, in the Holy Temple of Agia Marina on 17th July, Prophet Ilias on 20th July, in Katavati and Panayia Toso Nero on 15th August.  At these celebrations, local music is played and local delicacies are served.

 

TRANSPORT

To Sifnos: The distance from Piraeus to Kamares is 79 nautical miles.  By ferry boat, the journey takes 5 hours whilst by catamaran it is reduced to 2 and a half hours.  
On Sifnos: Transport is by bus or taxi.

USEFUL TELEPHONE NUMBERS

Sifnos Council Office:  22840 31345/ 31110/ 32388
Police Station:   22840 31210
Port  Authority  :    22840 33617
Regional Doctors Surgery:   22840 31315
Taxi Rank:   22840 31656/ 6944696409
Ecclesiastical Art Museum:   22840 31937

 

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Read about the most beautiful Greek Islands of Cyclades

Sifnos

The Island of Sifnos  in the Western Cyclades


Sifnos belongs the the Western Cyclades group and is situated between the closest islands of Kimolos (10 nautical miles), Serifos (12 nautical miles), Paros (14 nautical miles) and Milos (20 nautical miles).  It is wedge shaped, to which it owes one of its ancient names, Akis.  It is 18 kms long and 8kms wide with an area of 74 square kms, a coastline of 28 nautical miles and it is 75 nautical miles from Piraeus.

Tinos

The  Island of Tinos in the  Northern Cyclades


Tinos is the third largest island of the Cyclades after Andros  and Naxos. It belongs to the northern Cyclades and is situated  southeast of Andros and northwest of Mykonos. It has an area of 197 square kilometres and 9,701 inhabitants.
The islands' name is prehellenic and was corrrelated with the phoeonix  TANNOTI ( snake) , it was also called Ofioosa ( full of snakes ) which  was alleged to have exterminated the  patron saint  Poseidon.

Sikinos

The island of Sikinos in the Southern Cyclades



Sikinos is situated between Ios and Folegandros.  It is one of the smallest islands in the Cyclades with an area of 41 sq kms and maintains its traditional colour.

Hora, the main town, is built on the edge of a precipitous cliff edge in the northeastern part of the island.  It consists of two settlements, Kastro and Horio, both as beautiful and charming as each other.  On the southeastern face of the cliff is the port of Sikinos.