The rare charm of the Greek Island of Symi/Simi


‘Symi will bewitch you’, it says in a book by Kostas Farmkidis and Agapi Darakatsani. Yes, it will, but how does it do it?  How does it work its charm when so many places visited today fail so lamentably in beauty of architecture?

What you see is not an ancient place, but the island itself is ancient and its King fought in the Trojan Wars 3300 years ago. The honour of its creation must go to the wealthy educated Christian population of the 19th century.

Blessed with a fine deep harbour, sheltered by islands, it attracted trading sailing ships to buy its valuable sponges harvested on a grand scale until it grew to be the wealthiest port in the eastern Mediterranean for its size of population.

However, it is never wealth alone that works this magic, although it helps.  An architectural genius influenced the wealthy population to co-operate using simple rules to produce a truly rare harmony of design with engaging variety of buildings using classical proportions and mouldings, a unifying roof line and pediment, a limited range of colours (probably more recent) and a strict exclusion of disharmonious elements.

Surrounded by hills, all the houses, shops and restaurants are arranged around a cosy well-proportioned harbour with a rare charm. You must visit Symi on one of our gulet cruise holidays and let us show it to you. You will indeed be bewitched on the cruise of a lifetime.

Note:  Some the people call the Turkish boats like our M/S Odysseus, gullets or, in French, goulettes, which means a coastal vessel; motor-sailer is the technical term but it does not catch the flavour of the Turkish term gulet.

Posted by Dargan Bullivant, Partner, Odysseus Cruising, 26 May 2009