Ermoupoli and Ano Syros are the main settlements of the island. Before the revolution of 1821 there was no other settlement in Syros apart from Ano Syros (which was also called Kastro or Vrachos). After the revolution people started building farmhouses in order to reside during the summer in the so-called “themonies” (small farm houses). Thus, the countryside of the island was constructed little by little –without though the creation of the organized settlements that we meet in other islands, such as Tinos, Andros etc. In the valleys and the foot of the hills today there are single agricultural and livestock facilities and on the coasts there are the coastal settlements (holiday resorts).
Ano Syros started being built in 1207, when the island belonged to the Duchy of Naxos and had few residents. The pirate raids were, as in other Aegean islands as well, the reason why the residents went away from the coasts and resided the rock by covering its southern and its eastern side (at the west it is impregnable). It is a medieval settlement with defensive architecture, circular layout and radial street layout. The houses used to be built very close to one another, basically forming the wall of the castle, while the openings were few and small.
There were seven entry gates, three of which are still preserved. In the town planning of the castle the lack of an epicentre was characteristic. Important buildings for the life of the settlement, such as churches and schools, were built on its ends.
Centuries later, the construction of Ermoupoli was the reason why Ano Syros took a back seat. The settlement grew in a century time and characterised Syros in terms of its architecture and history. The influences of Neoclassicism and Romanticism were the main characteristic of the buildings’ architecture in the town-port which became a significant commercial-industrial centre and brought Syros in contact with Europe, Asia Minor and the Middle East.
In the first period the houses were built by metics, and thus they are characterized by folk architecture with elements brought from their homelands. They are located in the centre of the town in districts such as Psariana, Vrontado etc.
Then the buildings were dominated by Neoclassicism and Romanticism -elements that were adopted by the bourgeoisie of Ermoupoli as symbols of its prestige. The first town planning of Ermoupoli was drafted by Wilhelm von Weiler in 1837, in accordance with the requirements of the modern urban planning. Thereof, the Neoclassical town was created with the main roads, the squares and the locations of the public buildings which the visitors admire even today. The houses are two-storey or three-storey and they are divided in two main categories: the pure houses and the houses with a shop or a warehouse on the ground floor. Buildings of this type were built throughout the 19th century. By mid-century, elements from the Neoclassical architecture of Athens city were adopted.
The development of industry in Ermoypoli in the mid 19th century, when most factories were converted into steam powered, was the reason for the creation of monumental factories and warehouses with interesting architecture. Many of them are preserved to date.
You will find interesting information about the architecture at the site of the Municipality of Syros as well, www.hermoupolis.gr