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Sifnos Island, Greece

A monotonous gray rocky landscape, broken up here and there by a gleaming white chapel, is the first impression visitors get as the ferry draws into the harbour. But this gives them no idea of the beauty-spots waiting to be discovered inland, which, together with the island's superb architecture, rank it among the jewels of the Aegean.

The island was famous in ancient times for the wealth which came from its gold and silver mines and the quarries of Sifnos stone. It enjoyed great prosperity in Classical times, as can be seen from its Treasury, dedicated to Apollo at Delphi. An attractive drive from the port of Kamares, a modern town with pottery workshops, brings us to the island's capital, Apolonia. Standing on three hillsides, with its typical Cycladic style of architecture, it is breathtakingly beautiful. It has an interesting folklore museum, while the churches of the greatest interest are those of Our Lady Ouranofora and St. Sozon. Like that of the villages around it (Artemonas, Exambela, Kato Petali), the architecture of Apolonia is an odd assemblage in which walls, terraces, courtyards and alleyways form large cubes in a continuous complex, in total harmony with the natural environment. The sole exception is the old capital of Kastro, which remains an example of medieval town planning. A collection of Archaic and Hellenistic sculpture and of ceramics from the Geometric to the Byzantine period is on display in its Archaeological Museum. Picturesque windmills surrender their sails to the vagaries of the wind, while no fewer than 365 churches and chapels sprout all over the island like white mushrooms from the gray carpet of the island's soil. The monasteries of Sifnos, such as that of St. Symeon, of Ai-Lias, the Vrissi monastery with an interesting little Byzantine museum and that of Our Lady ‘‘Hryssopigi’’, the patron saint of the island, are held in high esteem.

The strong local colour of the mountainous island with its strips of coastal plain is further heightened by its picturesque fairs and festivals. There are clean and attractive beaches at Kamares, Faros and Platis Gialos (where you will find fine ceramic artifacts, typical of Sifnos), as well as quieter and lesser-known ones, such as those at Hersonissos, Vroulidia, Fikiada, Fassolou, et al. Tourist facilities on Sifnos are of a good standard and it is possible for the visitor to combine a lively night life with a peaceful island existence close to nature.

 

Police (Apolonia): 22840 31.210

Port authority: 22840 33.617

Community of Apolonia: 22840 31.345

Community of Artemonas: 22840 32.388

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