A Restrained presence
Compared to mass tourism destinations, Serifos keeps a low profile, and certainly keeps its distance. Easily accessible from the Greek capital, this quiet Cycladic island is bound to become a favourite ‘haven’.
The first picture one has of Serifos is Livadi, the snow-white capital of the island climbing up the hillside; a picture of a sweet landscape that immediately imprints itself on you.
Over time Livadi (the port) has become a tourist centre with accommodation, restaurants, fish taverns and a frequented seafront. However, Serifos remains a destination par excellence for quiet holidays.
History at a glance
Traces of inhabitation dating from the 3rd millennium BC have been found on the island. The first settlers were the Minoans followed by the Mycenaeans. In the 7th century BC the subsoil rich in iron deposits, led the Aeolians and Ionians to colonise Serifos in order to exploit them. Serifos also flourished at the start of the 20th century when mining companies operated here.
However, Serifos is mostly known from the ancient legend of the Greek hero Perseus who managed to kill the terrible Medusa, the mythological Gorgon, who turned anyone who dared to look at her to stone. Even though she was dead, when Perseus arrived at Serifos carrying her severed head, her otherworldly gaze turned the entire island to stone! Thus the ancient storyteller found his justification for the existence of this barren rock right in the middle of the sea.
Walks in Chora
A tarmac road and an old cobbled one link Livadi to Chora (the island’s capital) which sits atop the hill above the port. Park at the entrance to Chora and continue on foot. The village consists of two neighbourhoods, Ano (Upper) Chora and Kato (Lower) Chora. At the top of the hill are the remains of a Venetian castle (1434). Amid the island-style, cube-shaped houses, the neoclassical town hall stands out (1907), as does Agios Athanasios Square with its cathedral church. At the highest point of the village lies Agios Konstantinos Chapel offering the best views of the island.
Lower down, in a crevasse sits Ai Giannis Theologos Chapel, built on the ruins of an ancient temple of Athena. The Folklore Museum next to a small outdoor theatre is of interest. Every summer on stage theatre a series of artistic events take place combining a qualitative approach (tel.+30 22810 51181)
Livadi-Livadaki: Livadi has a good sandy beach while the nearby, also quite good Livadakia offers amenities. The sandy Karavi, Vatoudi and Vgeniou beaches are clearly quieter though.
Vagia-Koutalas: West of the port (8 km) you come across Vagia coast (a “Natura 2000” network protected area), that is followed by the leeward Ganema beach and the quaint little Koutala Bay.
Mega Livadi: Along this sandy arch, you will find fish taverns, rooms for rent and the abandoned facilities of an iron mining company from the start of the 20th century.
Sykamia: Is found at the northern tip of the island shaded by tamarisk trees but exposed to the blustering summer winds(meltemia). There is also a tavern.
Psili Ammos- Agios Giannis: Northeast of the port try the beaches of Agios Sostis, Lia (hard to get there) and Psili Ammos, all of which will recompense you.
This men’s monastery which dominates the north-eastern part of the island is situated close to the traditional village of Galani. The first relevant written record was a letter from Patriarch Timotheus from 1619 proving just how old the monastery is. The rich monastic community, around which the island’s entire economy was based, was fortified with towering walls to protect itself against pirate raids ( tel. +30 22810-51027).
Copyright photo: Theo Athanasiadis / Views Of Greece
Copyright text: Germaine Alexakis/ Views Of Greece
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