A surprisingly green island for the Cyclades, Sifnos offers a good variety
of peace and quiet and things to do. Even though it is a popular island,
both amongst Greeks and foreigners, it has kept its originality and is
resisting the commercialisation many other islands have suffered.
The locals on Sifnos live off agriculture, the natural source of aluminium
and tourism, and the olive trees grow practically everywhere. In ancient
times it was famous for mining gold, silver and iron.
A striking feature of this island is the many churches: there is a church
for each day of the year, and most of them are only open on that day.
History: Mythology has it that
the island got its name from its first settler, Sifnos, who was the son
of the hero Sounio. Although the island might have been inhabited in
prehistoric times by different peoples, the most certain is that Aegeans
and Minoans, Cretans, settled here in the 2nd Millennium BC.
Sifnos was one of the richest islands in ancient times because of its
natural resources of gold, aluminum and silver. As far as we know, its
first inhabitants came in around 1000-900 BC. and they soon discovered
the precious metals. Trade went on with many of the other Cycladic
islands, as well as with cities on the mainland.
According to mythology, the locals would give a golden egg to
Apollo each year, but when the gold mines were almost depleted, they
tried to fool the god by painting as stone in stead. This angered the
god so much, that he sent the tyrant Polycrates who took all precious
metals from the island.
The Romans used this island as a place for exiles, and later on, it went
through the same problems with Venetians, Turks and pirates as the the
rest of the Cyclades. It was liberated in 1830.
What to See The capital of
the island is called Apollonia, after its ancient patron god, and here
there is an art museum. The old part is called Artemonas, and there
might have been a temple dedicated to the goddess
Kastro is the old capital, and the Ventian citadel here dates back to
the 14th century. There is a small archaeological museum here, and the
village itself is well worth a visit.
Panagia Vouno, (The virgin of the Mountain) is a fascinating church that
is usually open in the mornings.
The monastery of the Virgin Mary of the Golden Well (Panagia
Chryso-pigi) is situated just outside Faros and is open to the public.
Don't forget to wear proper clothing though. The icon of the Virgin here
is said to have healing powers.
What to Do : The days on Sifnos
are best spent relaxing by the sea, and perhaps taking a few long walks.
The best beaches are at Faros, but Kastro and Platys
Gialos are also to be recommended. In Kamares there is a beach as well,
but the sand is not as fine. Chersonissos is a lovely bay and Vathy is
nice and quiet.
Nighttlife: You'll find the bars
in Apollonia and a couple of discos also run during high season. The
nightlife is no the wildest, but you can have a good time until late.
Backpackers tend to like the few places in Kastro.
Food Most taverns you'll find
in Kamares and Apollonia, as well as a few pizza places.
There are also some lovely little fish taverns in Kastro
and Faros. Sifnos is reputed for its good food, and many
chefs come from here.
are the island's specialty, and you'll find most shops
in Kamares and Apollonia. You'll also find beautiful
textiles and carpets.
Getting Around There local
buses are very good, and take you to many beaches and the most important
villages. There is also a boat that can take you from Kamares to some of
the beaches. Cars and bikes can be rented.
Getting There:The are quite
good connections with other islands as well as the mainland from Sifnos.
To get here it is probably best to take a direct flight to Athens and
from Piraeus the ferryboat (5h) or hydrofoil (2h). Alternatively you can
go to Milos or Paros, the latter is a bit out of the way though.
|Facts about Sifnos*
| Size: 90 sq. km
||International code: 0030
|Population: about 2500
|Cash machine: Yes
||Port Police: 31617
|Internet cafe: Yes
||Rooms information: 31333
||Telephone company (OTE):
|Price rate: Above average
*The info displayed may be inaccurate. If changes have been made,
please let us know.