Discovering the colorful "Lady of the Dodecanese"
The tiny island of Symi is among the most unexpectedly picturesque in the Aegean. It's pastel houses cluster down the little fjord-like harbor like a tidy pastel quilt. The candy-colored neo-classical architecture is a far cry from the better-known Cycladic white and blue, but you're in the Dodecanese now.
This collection of islands - originally named for the twelve ("dódeka" in Greek) largest islands in the group - sits in the south Aegean, with the largest island being Rhodes. And if you stay on Rhodes, like I did, a day trip to Symi is a must! It's very close - perhaps an hour by tour boat. My boat stopped at Panormitis Monastery, a lovely example of island monastic life, and passed by the stunningly beautiful St. George's Bay, with it's tall gray cliffs overlooking it's luminous blue-green water.
Symi's history goes back to antiquity. The island was mentioned in the Iliad as the home of King Nireus, who sent ships to Troy, and was described by Homer as the second-most handsome man on the Greek side, after Achilles. It's name was taken from the nymph Syme, who was beloved by the sea god. Even into recent history, it's main occupations are sea-related - primarily sponge diving. You can see (and buy) natural sponges on the waterfront, and a statue is erected in honor of sponge divers at the harbor.
Over the years, it has passed through various hands, including the Knights of St. John , the Ottomans, the Italians and the British. Symi eventually became part of Greece again in 1948.
Now it's a beautiful destination, either for a stay or a day trip. Discover it's long history, it's sublime beaches and it's utterly charming main town.
Enjoy this photo gallery of Symi! Click on any photo to enlarge.
All photos by me.
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