Syros exhibition signals a new chapter for a historic building

Margarita Pournara

Shortly after the outbreak of the 1821 Greek War of Independence and the destruction of Chios, thousands of people sought refuge at the port of Syros, the present-day capital of the Cycladic islands.

Within a few decades, that barren shore, with little more than a taverna and a rudimentary anchorage, grew into one of the most beautiful cities in Greece, Ermoupoli, and a magnet for notables and successful businessmen from every corner of the land.

They came from Psaras, Macedonia, Crete, the Peloponnese and, later, from Asia Minor, breaking new ground in the textile industry and shipping, and becoming, within the span of a generation, proud Syriotes who endowed their city with grand public buildings.

Today, Ermoupoli is no longer the metropolis it was once was, but it has maintained those architectural traits that give it its very particular identity.