Serifos island (Greece, Cyclades)
Serifos island (Greece, Cyclades) is an island in the Aegean Sea that belongs to the Cyclades islands cluster. The capital of Serifos Chora is built at an altitude of 200 m, reaching the top of a hill with remnants of the ancient castle, whitewashed houses, cobblestone streets, and breathtaking views of the Aegean.
Chora is considered to be one of the most picturesque villages in the Cyclades. The windmills, the stone-paved alleys, the traditional architecture of the houses, and the beaches are some of the island’s attributes that attract more and more visitors in recent years. The cobble stepped path connects the settlements of Kato and Ano Chora. Τhe small settlement of the Castle began to expand, creating the Ano Chora settlement. Some years ago, in Chora, there were ten Windmills, whereas today, only 3 of them are saved. The population of Serifos is 1,420 people increasing multiple times in the summer.
Serifos is one of the most beautiful islands of the Cyclades cluster. We recall in our minds the poem of Odysseus Elytis, winner of the 1979 Nobel Prize for Literature. He depicted the beauty of the island in his “Carte Blanche” poem collection.
” BEFORE THE RIDGE OF SERIFOS, as the sun rises, the guns of all the great world theories fall silent. A few waves and some rocks overcome the mind; absurd, but sufficient to reveal the man in his true dimensions. And what else could be of more use to him in life? If he likes starting in the wrong way, it’s because he refuses to listen. In his absence, for thousands of years now, the Aegean has been saying again and again in the voice of its plashing along an endless length of coast: this is you! “
Sightseeing – Serifos island (Greece, Cyclades)
The main port of Serifos island is Livadi, while other large settlements are Koutalas, Megalo Livadi, and Kentarhos. You may find a boat shelter, small hotels, taverns, cafes, and shops in Livadi port.
Archaeological museum- the Archaeological collection
The exhibits in the Archaeological collection are random findings recovered from the area of Chora. Mainly found in or around churches, and in most cases, their exact origin is unknown. Before the museum, they were put on display in the Town Hall. The objects consist of male and female statues in fragmented parts. They date from Hellenistic and Roman times.
Visitors of the museum may also see an Amphora product of a North African workshop, an Amphora product of a Cretan workshop, and a Pitho with an incised inscription of Alkidemos rim (see photo).
You will see various kinds of items of everyday use, mainly terracotta household implements (for cooking, storage, tableware).
*In Megalo Chorio, there are the ruins of the Hellenistic Tower called ‘lefkos Pyrgos (White Tower), an independent ancient defensive construction erected in the countryside of Serifos. It is built on a naturally fortified site, which all-around visibility on the rocky mountain chain.
The Town Hall
The building of the Town Hall dominates since 1908; next, if you visit the Cathedral of Saint Athanasios, a 17th-century church with a wood-carved iconostasis that serves as the metropolis of the island.
The Folklore museum
In Kato Chora, there is a Folklore museum which is owned by the union of Serifians. It was founded in 1976 and is housed in a beautiful mansion. In the museum, the visitor will admire objects of the traditional life of Serifos. Some of the exhibits are household utensils, woven furniture, and traditional local costumes. There is also a small representation of a traditional household and various rocks found on the island, and samples of the mineral wealth of its land. Most of the exhibits come from donations from local citizens.
The Serifos Castle
At the top of the Chora is the Castle built in 1434 by the Miceli family. Today the visitor will see only the ruins of the Venetian castle. It was created to protect from raids and had a fortification design.
The visitor will admire the Aegean with the island around, such as Sifnos, Kythnos, Milos, Kimolos. Also, there is the church of Saint John which is carved on the rock.
To get to the top of the hill, you will need to climb several stairs in the castle. You will see the churches of Saint Konstantinos with the large courtyard, Saint Varvara, Christos, and Saint Ioannis Theologos. The church of Saint Ioannis is located in the cavity of a rock on the ruins of the ancient temple of Athena. According to tradition, the mythology of Serifos, in the catacombs, is hiding Medusa’s head that Perseus decapitated.
Near Serifos, the Serifopoula islets in the north and the Bous (ox shaped) in the east.
Mining History – Serifos island (Greece, Cyclades)
The island of miners
The Serifos island (Greece, Cyclades) flourished in the late 19th – early 20th century, when mining companies were operating that exploited its rich subsoil. Later, however, the mines were abandoned because the mining was considered unprofitable, and several settlements were deserted.
Iron and copper mines existed since antiquity, and metallurgical activities date back to the Early Cycladic period (3rd millennium BC). There are no archaeological finds in Serifos.
The only ancient buildings to be preserved are marble towers, most famous in Aspropyrgos, in the bay of Koutalas, the rectangular Psaropyrgos in the Cyclope peninsula, in the southwest of Greater-Megalo Livadi, and a circular tower made of marble and gneiss in the neck of the Kefalas peninsula.
Above in the photo, you will see the new classic building where the management of the mines was sheltered.
Serifos Megalo Livadi (*former Miner’s port)
The operation of mines boomed the island, and the population doubled during the period 1880-1910 due to the influx of workers from other Cycladic islands. In 1915, a metal price crisis broke out, and mining production collapsed. Working conditions in mines were, however, bad, and accidents at work very often. In August 1916, miners in Megalo Livadi declared a strike calling for better working conditions and higher wages. In 1925, the eight-hour legislation already in force in 1920 came into force. The mines are finally closed in the summer of 1963 due to the depletion of stocks, the high costs of relatively small-scale exploitation, and mainly as a result of the collapse in iron ore prices worldwide.
In recent decades efforts have been made to preserve the mining memory and the events of 1916. The Greek Ministry of Culture declared historical monuments the Headquarters of the mines and the loading bridge in Megalo Livadi, the loading bridge in Koutalas, the worker’s residencies.
Religious Monuments – Serifos island (Greece, Cyclades)
Holy Monastery of Taxiarches
In Serifos, you may visit the Monastery of Taxiarches dating back to 1572. The monastery is dedicated to the Archangels Michael and Gabriel, who are also the patrons of the island. The Taxiarches monastery is located near the village of Galani and is of great architectural interest. It was founded with the arrival of the icon of archangels of Taxiarches from Cyprus and is considered miraculous. It is built with tall external walls (about 10 meters high) with loopholes, while the cells and the church are well protected within the walls. In the past, the monastery was rich and possessed heirlooms and estates on the neighboring islands. For this reason, it was often the object of raids by pirates. In the monastery, there was a school of intercultural education.
Church of Panagia in the Village Panagia
In the village, Panagia, you may visit the church, the oldest on the island, built around 950-1000. It celebrates on August 15th with a festival taking place. The church is a cruciform basilica, and its remarkable frescoes date back to the 14th and 17th centuries.
During the Revolution of 1821, in which the Serifians actively participated, the church’s hidden cells were used as a refuge for refugees from the Peloponnese and the surrounding islands.
Church of Panagia of Ramos
Beaches of Serifos island (Greece, Cyclades)
#1. Psili Ammos beach
Psili Ammos is one of the most beautiful beaches on the island. (8 km from Chora).
#2. Sikamia beach
Sikamia beach is where you will enjoy swimming all day long or sit in the nearby tavern in the middle of nowhere. (10 km from Chora)
Sikamia beach is natural with clear waters, sand, small pebbles, and trees for shade.
#3. Ganema beach
On the south side of the Island, Ganema is a large and nice beach with shiny pebbles, sand, and trees for shade. Ganema beach is 11,6klm from Chora. It is one of the biggest beaches of Serifos.
#4. Livadakia beach
Another popular beach in Serifos is livadakia. It is on the south of the island and closes to the port of Serifos, Livadi.
#5. Other popular beaches
Other popular beaches are Kalo Ambelia and Vagia in the south. Maliadikiko, Megalo Livadi in the west. Sykamia, Platys Gialos and Dio Yaloudia to the north. St. John and Lia to the east.
Also, Avlomonas, near the port of Serifos, is one of the biggest sandy beaches on the island.
Agios Sostis beach is 7,1 km from Chora. Its name took it from the homonymous chapel on the rocks. The beach has golden sand and dumbbells. Opposite you can see the island of “Bou.”
Accessibility – Serifos island (Greece, Cyclades)
Τhe duration of the journey from Piraeus to Serifos is only 2:30 hours with the Catamaran, up to 4.30 hours with the normal ferries.
Gastronomy in Serifos
A traditional dish is “marathokeftedes” (vegetarian fennel balls), a very delicious and healthy appetizer.
Among the local foods popular is ”revitada” (chickpeas cooked in the rosemary oven)
Among the local products to take home from Serifos, you may ask for handmade sweets.
Drink the strong aperitif of excellent quality “Souma” (*similar to grappa).
*Editor’s choice is ‘‘astakomakaronada” (spaghetti and lobster), “Lousa” (pork meat preserved by a traditional process), and local cheeses such as “Myzithra” (white soft feta) to have on your Greek salad. If you are in a mood to try local delicacies, you may also try local cheeses made from goat milk or a mixture of goat and sheep milk. The locals use this kind of cheese in pasta(grated) or as it is to accompany ”serifiotiko” (local strong wine) or suma ( a variation of grapa).