The Island of Sea Sponge and Ship Building Industry
Symi is possibly the most enchanting of all the Dodecanese Islands. According to legend, Symi was the Nymph that gave birth to Poseidon’s son Hthonios, the “man of the earth”, who is identified as the leader of the first inhabitants on the island. Homer affirm that the island has long been inhabited by reporting that it participated in the war against Troy with King Nireas.
The oldest settlement on the island is Horio, which was developed away from the coast as pirates once ravaged the region. After the inbound threat diminished, Horio was extended towards the sea with a new settlement, Yialos. Here you will find many interesting small shops and restaurants, conveniently situated within close proximity to your yacht moored in the harbour.
Sloping up the rolling hillside on the coast, Yialos consists of several mansions which once belonged to ship owners and merchants of Symi. Influenced by the spread of classicism in the Ottoman Empire in the late 18th century, the series of pastel coloured residences beautifully combine Dodecanese tradition with neoclassical design. Allow yourself to be dazzled by the wondrous colours, the elaborate gables and the pebbled courtyards, which conclusively add to the overall class and prestige of this island.
The village of Panormitis is located 12 km south of Simi Town and apart from being quite picturesque, its single and unique characteristic makes it one of the most significant areas in Simi. This is the Monastery of Archangel Micheal Panormitis.
The 18th century monastery is located on the seafront of the village and it can be seen from the ferries that usually deck on the mentioned harbour, offering one of the best sights. It is protected by an inlet that leads to a wide harbour and a small beach with fine sand that is usually empty. The Venetian style monastery has great artifacts, such as antique chandeliers, and an impressive silver icon of the Archangel, which is the patron saint of the island, as well as the protector of sailors.
In addition, the monastery hosts two small museums that also attract many visitors to Panormitis. It displays a huge collection of offerings. According to the tradition, when asking a favour of the Archangel it is necessary to give something in retribution. Many of these objects are made of gold or silver, and some of them are also put into bottles by sailors to protect them. The other museum displays traditional examples of folk art, usually related to fishing, shepherding and agriculture.
Inside the monastery is a row of cells where the monks live, and they are also available for rental for the visitors who wish to spend the night there. In fact, on November 8th, the day that the island celebrates the saint, a great number of Greek travellers arrive in Simi to enjoy this local festivity. Pilgrims who come to this place during this period, are offered free accommodation, food and wine.
The inner courtyards of the monastery have many exotic plants and trees prividing a warm and pleasant environment for the visitors. There is also a sanctuary, ideal for those seeking for some solitude. It takes approximately an hour to see the museum, explore the church and the monks cells. Ferries and excursion boats connect Simi town with Panormitis. It is also accessed with a car. The small village of Panormitis provides a great sense of peace and a visit to the great Archangel Michael monastery is highly recommended.
BEACHES OF SYMI
One of the locations which contributed to the excellent reputation of Symi island, is Nos Beach, mostly known for it's peaceful location, clean waters and sandy beach.
Emborio - Nimborio Beach
This is the second port of the island and it has a picturesque village and a fantastic beach. It is worth seeing "Twelve Caves" - twelve Byzantine domes formerly used as painting and sculpture workshops in “Mesa Niborio”.
Pedi Bay is a popular destination on Symi and it is situated on the east side of the island. The area attracts many visitors, as there are remains of early Christian churches and the church of St. George.
It is a popular beach on Symi by virtue of its sand/shingle beach, natural shade, safe swimming. Popular with families with younger children, as the beach slopes gently into the sea, particularly on the far side. The journey on a boat from Symi harbour or Pedi Bay will take you about twenty minutes
Panormitis Bay can best be reached with an excursion boat or by road. The bay is situated in the south of the island and is famous for its monastery, the monastery of the Archangel Michael, that stands at the head of the bay and attracts many visitors every summer. In the bay of Panormitis there is also a beach and there are a couple of tavernas and shops to serve all the tourists that come to take a look at the monastery (mainly daytrippers from Rhodes).