A FEW WORDS ON SIFNOS
Sifnos belongs to the western Cylades. It is situated about 130 km. or 80 nautical miles from Piraeus. It is an island with rich natural beauty and quite verdurous in comparison to other Cyclades islands. Its beaches and bays cover all tastes: sandy beaches, pebble beaches and rocky coasts. Some of its beaches are: Platys Gialos, Kamares, Vathy, Faros, Chryssopigi etc., which are waiting for their visitors. The highest point in Sifnos is the mountain of Prophet Elias, the altitude of which is 680m.
In Sifnos there are countless churches and monasteries, white traditional villages and many local customs, which make the island an ideal destination for your vacation. The cultural activity of Sifnos is intense mainly during the summer months, when many cultural events take place (concerts, expositions etc.), the pick of which is the famous “Festival of Cycladic Gastronomy – Nicolaos Tselementes”, in September, that takes place during the last years at Artemonas’ square.
In Sifnos, the art of pottery was and still is very developed and that is why the island is well known for its ceramics of unique value and beauty. One of the most famous ceramic items of the island is “flaros” which is used on top of the chimneys.
Sifnos is also famous for its delicious cuisine. Some of its most famous dishes are the chick-pea soup, mastelo and the chick-pea balls.
Sifnos – Platys Gialos
The name Platys Gialos means “large beach”. It is one of the largest beaches of Sifnos and one of the most frequented ones, while during the last years it is awarded the Blue Flag. On the top of the settlement’s hill there is the monastery of Panagia Vounou (=Vingin Mary of the Mountain). From here the view is magic. To the north and east there is Aspros Pyrgos (=White Tower), the most famous one out of the 57 ancient towers of Sifnos. At the entrance of the bay there is the uninhabited private island Kitriani.
Apollonia at Sifnos
Since 1836, the capital of Sifnos is Apollonia or Stavri. Apollonia was devoted to the ancient god Apollo, as it is also indicated by its name. It is built amphitheatrically on three hills and since it is located at the center of Sifnos, here are situated all public services, the post office, banks, travel agencies and a community clinic. In its narrow streets there are commercial stores, traditional taverns and bars.
Artemonas at Sifnos
The second central settlement of Sifnos, after Apollonia is Artemonas and it is located to the north of Apollonia, 1,5 klm. from it, built on a hill. In Artemonas there are traditional mansions with beautiful gardens and on the top of the hill there are two windmills. The village has a panoramic view of the Aegean Sea and the surrounding islands. It is thought likely that the worship site of Ekvatria Artemis was located where Panagia of Kochi is built today.
Kastro at Sifnos
It is a settlement that is located within a Venetian fortress. It is built on an ancient citadel and there are plenty of items of archaeological interest. It has been inhabited from the ancient times to nowadays. People of the lower class were living in the first line of two-storey and three-storey houses that composed the exterior wall while the aristocrats were living in the interior, higher and protected from the pirate invasions. Kastro has been the capital of Sifnos from the ancient times to 1836.
Vathi at Sifnos
It is one of the oldest settlements of potters. In Vathy there is one of the biggest sandy beaches of Sifnos and there are also taverns and cafeterias, by the sea.
Faros at Sifnos
It is a picturesque traditional fishermen village with three adjacent beaches: Fassolou, Faros and Glypho. It took its name after the big lighthouse (in Greek: faros) that is installed at the entrance of the port. The lighthouse is situated to the southeast of the entrance of the port, which is one of the safest ports of the island. Here begins the paved path that leads to Chryssopigi.
Cheronissos at Sifnos
It is located at the northest end of Sifnos. It is a traditional fishermen village with a small sandy beach and taverns where you shall taste fresh fish
Kamares at Sifnos
Kamares is the biggest coastal village. The port of Sifnos is located here. The central settlement extends towards the right side of the bay. This is the first place that the visitor will see when he comes to Sifnos. Here, you will find restaurants, cafeterias, confectionaries and travel agencies as well as a sandy beach.
Chrissopigi at Sifnos
It is a rock where the monastery of Panagia of Chryssopigi, the protector of Sifnos, is situated. At the entrance of the rock, there is a rupture that has been created by a miracle to save the women of Sifnos from the pirates. Here takes place the most important festival of Sifnos, every year, at the feast of the Ascension.
History of Sifnos
According to Pliny, Sifnos’ initial name was “Meropia” and “Akis”, while according to Stephanus of Byzantium it was “Meropi”. Its current name derives from Siphnos, the son of the mythic attic hero Sounios, according to another version, the name of the island derives from the adjective “σιφνός” (sifnos), which means void, probably because of the ancient mine galleries and according to others, it derives from the word “σιφνείς” (= mole).
To the southeast of Apollonia, on the hill of Ag. Andreas there are the double walls of the pro-hellenic citadel, that prove the existence of a city of that period, whose name is unknown. The external wall looks like the wall of Troy and the walls of the Mycenaean period. Many vessels and tombs of that historical period have been found at the same area.
It is thought likely that the first residents of Sifnos were the Carians and the Cretans. According to Herodotus, the first residents of Sifnos were the Ionians, colonists of Athenians. During the Classical period there was an important city on the island that Herodotus calls “Asty” with sublime buildings, which has been located where today is “Seralia” or “Kastro” (eastward). At this city there was a Prytaneum, the “Lefkofryx Agora”, built of white marble from Paros, a big temple and the theatre of Dionysus.
Ancient Sifnos was famous for its gold and silver mines, which had made the Sifnian people very rich. Later on, due to the exhaustion of the deposits or due to the flood of the tunnels by the sea, poverty fell on the island.
History source: Wikipedia