Symi Greece

Condé-Naste Traveller

'Symi has the most beautiful harbour in Greece. On either side of a steep-sided fjord rise tier upon tier of houses, some white, some pastel yellow, but virtually all with Neo-Classical pediments - a reminder that 100 years ago this was one of Greece's most prosperous islands. There has been virtually no modern concrete construction here and now these fine old houses are being resurrected for visitors. The spirit of the island remains intact.'     Phone: +30 22460 71785   Fax: +30 22460 71787

Symi: a Neo-Classical Gem in the Dodecanese

More than just a sunshine island destination, Symi has some of the finest neo-classical architecture in Greece.  The nineteenth century amphitheatre harbour, Yialos, is a national monument and the architecture in Chorio (literally ‘village’) is also protected.  Tiers of beautifully restored and delicately coloured neo-classical houses line the steep slopes of Yialos, rising up to a row of old windmills on the crest that divides the harbour from the upper town. 

The main settlement of Chorio is focused around the ruins of the old acropolis and kastro, scrambling up the lower slopes of the Vigla, the highest point of the island.  The two areas of habitation are connected by the famous pedestrian route, the Kali Strata.  This wide flight of some 350 steps runs roughly diagonally from the back of Yialos to the village square, often referred to as Syllogos Square, and is lined with generously proportioned merchant houses.  Almost all of these have now been restored to their former glory.  A modern motor road also connects the two areas but as this has to make a huge sweep of several kilometers to cope with the gradient it does not intrude into the pristine architecture.  Most properties can only be accessed by a combination of steps, slopes and lanes, either from the bottom up or from the top down.

Symi Greece

While the architecture of Yialos and the harbour environs is pure neo-classical, Chorio, which is the oldest area of habitation, is a mixture of vernacular and pre-neo-classical styles with only occasional examples of pure neo-classical.  Parts of Chorio were seriously damaged during the Second World War and are only slowly being rebuilt, making this a very quiet and secluded area to stay.  The labyrinth of narrow lanes and the steepness of the terrain mean that little vehicle traffic can penetrate into the older residential areas and the only sounds to shatter the peace are the bells of the many churches in the vicinity.


Harani, a secondary bay to the side of the main harbour and only a few minutes stroll from the centre of Yialos is another area of architectural interest.  This is focused around the old boat building yards of Harani and many of the buildings along the quay have their origins in Symi’s old commercial heritage of boat building and sponge diving.  The unpaved coastal road from Harani leads to the small seaside settlement of Nimborio, an area of quiet seclusion.


The upper part of Chorio overlooks the Pedi Valley, an ancient agricultural area of shallow terraces and orchards which runs all the way down to the sea at the fjord-like Pedi Bay.  The steep shoreline on either side of Pedi bay is lined with small fishermen’s cottages and the broad level expanse that divides the agricultural land of the valley with the strip of sandy beaches is home to traditional tavernas, an hotel, a boat yard specializing in wooden caiques as well as the island’s football pitch and the power station.  Pedi has become increasingly popular with tourists in recent years as it combines proximity to the sea with convenient access to Chorio and Yialos via a regular bus service.

Situated only 25 nautical miles from the island of Rhodes, Symi has the advantage of access to an international airport but at the same time is off the beaten track for mass tourism.  As visitor accommodation is traditionally within the community and there are no specific tourist areas, holidays on Symi are an opportunity to experience authentic Greek island life in houses and villas with timeless appeal.  It is not surprising that the island has a strong repeat clientele and is popular with the discerning traveller. You can view a recently produced film of Symi below: enjoy!

Symi : - : Greece from Uptick on Vimeo.

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