Syros is located 144 km south-east of Athens. The largest towns are Ermoupoli, Ano Syros, and Vari. Ermoupoli is the capital of the island and the Cyclades. It has always been a significant port town, and during the 19th century it was even more significant than Piraeus.
Ermoupoli, the port town of Syros island, stands on a naturally amphitheatrical site, with neo-classical buildings, old mansions and white houses from the harbour and up.
The City Hall, at Miaoulis Square is surrounded by cafes and with seating areas under palm trees, and it has a nostalgic grandeur. The “City of Hermes” has numerous churches of great interest, the Archaeological Museum has a collection of notable finds and the Municipal Library contains numerous interesting and rare editions. The quarter of the town known as Vaporia, where the sea captains lived, is worth a visit as well.
Ermoupoli has today 2 high schools, 2 technical schools and the Aegean University with a department of Fine Arts and system design, with a proposed future addition in Applied Arts and Visual Arts.
Syros Island National Airport, the Aegean casino, the frequent passenger boat transportation system and all other modern amenities help to attract many Greek as well as foreign tourists to the island all year round.
Ano Syros is the second town of Syros and was built by the Venetians at the beginning of the 13th century on the hill of San Giorgio, north-west of Hermoupolis. Ano Syros maintains a medieval atmosphere. Innumerable steps between narrow streets and houses with coloured doors lead to the top of the town. The medieval settlement of Ano Syros is accessible by car; the town is served mostly by marble steps. The distance from the harbour up to the main entry point of the town is about 1000 metres. The Catholic basilica of San Giorgio dominates Ano Syros. The church was constructed during the 13th century. From the church of San Giorgio visitors can enjoy a panoramic view of the neighbouring islands of Tinos, Delos, Mykonos, Paros, Andros and Naxos Island.
During the Roman times the capital of Syros was situated in the area of contemporary Ermoupoli. At the end of ancient times, the barbarian raids and piracy, which had surged the Aegean for many centuries, led Syros to decline. In the Byzantine years Syros constituted part of the Aegean Dominion, along with the rest of the Cycladic islands. After the overthrow of the Byzantium by the Venetians and Franks in 1204, Syros came under Venetian rule and was included in the Ducat of the Aegean. Meanwhile, Ano Syros was founded. During the Latin period, the majority of the local community were Roman Catholics, but maintained the Greek language.