A Walk Around the Kastro

Spot the almond tree!

I wonder who farmed those ancient terraces,  high on the barren slopes of the Vigla, and who planted that almond tree that is flowering so bravely in the gully.

While almond trees usually require human intervention, wild cyclamens appear wherever there is a little soil,  no matter how sparse.

Looking across at Mavrovouni in Yialos from the lane that goes around the Kastro, just beyond Lemonitissa. The sun was very bright yesterday, despite the haze, so the colours are a bit bleached.  Villa Iris and Spiti Grand Helene are on this hill, overlooking the town square and the head of the harbour.

 Looking down at the head of the harbour from a bit further along the Kastro road.  In the foreground from right to left, St John's church, the Petrides school and the basket ball pitch, the Garden studios and the Opera House hotel.  In the middle, from right to left, the  customs house, bridge and town square with Mavrovouni behind, Iapetos hotel and the road up to Ellikoni cemetery and the helipad. This is also the top access to Mavrovouni. The area of dark trees behind is the Drakounda valley. A foot path goes from there down to Nimborio bay which can just be glimpsed. On the far right you can just see Evangelismos church overlooking Harani with the island and monastery of Nimos behind. The purple hills in the background are the Datca peninsula in Turkey.

A closer view of St John's church, the Petrides school and the town square with Mavrovouni behind.

One of several churches of varying sizes and degrees of importance that crown the circumference of the Kastro.

One of the most interesting roofs in Chorio.

An immaculately maintained door in Chorio.  It is actually made of steel but as it has been carefully looked after it has not rusted through as has happened to may similar doors on the island.

Looking towards the windmills and Pedi bay from the Kastro road.  That is a solar water heater on the left. The diagonal row of houses running parallel to it marks the vehicle short cut into the centre of Chorio. Most of Chorio is only accessible on foot  or by scooter as the lanes are too narrow with intermittent steps to permit vehicles.  As Symi is so steep, there was never a tradition for horse-drawn vehicles and carts on the island so the houses in Chorio are very tightly packed and the lanes evolved for pedestrian traffic only.

This large open space is the village square in Chorio.  Fringed by houses and ruins on three sides, the fourth side is a steep set of steps, now fenced off, dropping onto the lane that turns into the Kali Strata. This is the main shopping street in Chorio and is where you will find traditional tavernas, cafes, bars, bakeries, the butcher and other shops in a long line that terminates in steps at one end and the local junior school at the other.

The Olive Tree like many other cafes and restaurants on the island, is closed for the winter. This cat is taking advantage of the peace and quite to relax on the top terrace.

A tug towing another floating crane platform from Rhodes to Yialos for the new commercial harbour in Yialos. That is Turkey in the background, in the vicinity of Bozburun and that white stripe is the roof of a huge boatshed where boats are built for the foreign market.
After the blustery squalls and dust of Monday and the weekend, the weather has warmed up to abnormal temperatures for the time of year and Tuesday was absolutely calm.  It was about 28 degrees yesterday at midday - this time last year it was 10!  There is no real rain expected although once again we have a windy weekend ahead.  Temperatures are expected to settle around 13-18 degrees for the next week.  Apparently we have a 10% chance of 1 mm of rain but as that is likely to be more red Saharan sand than water it is unlikely to improve the current drought conditions and doesn't really count as rain.

As yesterday was the first fine calm and relatively clear day in ages I took my camera for a walk around the Kastro in Chorio. There isn't much left of the medieval Kastro itself as it was already fairly tumbled down when the Germans destroyed it during the Second World War but the lane that runs around the Kastro, from the back of the Chorio square to the oldest part of Chorio at the top of the Kataraktis, the old donkey path that predates the Kali Strata by over 1000 years, offers some lovely aerial views of the harbour.  The reason why the swimming pool at Iapetos Hotel, the only hotel on the island with a pool, is undercover is to avoid spoiling this view from above.

I hope you enjoy the pictures and, if you are a newcomer to Symi, that they give you an understanding of just how steep the island is.

Have a good week.


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About this Blog

I sailed into Panormitis Bay, Symi, by chance one windy July day in 1993 and have been here ever since. The locals tell me that this is one of the miracles of St Michael of Panormitis. A BA graduate with majors in English, Philosophy and Classical Civilisation, the idea of living in what is to all intents and purposes an archaeological site appeals to me. Not as small as Kastellorizo, not as touristy as Rhodes, Symi is just the right size. I live on a small holding which my husband and I have reclaimed from a ruin of over-grazing and neglect and turned into a small oasis over the course of the past 22 years. I also work part-time for Symi Visitor Accommodation, helping independent travellers discover and enjoy Symi's simple pleasures for themselves.

This page is kindly sponsored by Wendy Wilcox, Symi Visitor Accommodation.

Adriana Shum

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