Thursday, August 13, 2009

Day 67, from Serifos to Sifnos, Cyclades, Greece

As we leave Paros we pass Serifos, one of the Greek Cyclades Islands located in the Aegean Sea 73 nautical miles south east of the mainland port of Piraeus.
Nopi said that in this place isolated homesteads can only be reached via a donkey track.

Serifos is known as "the barren one" and, according to legend, its one time king
Polydeukes was turned to stone along with everything that was beautiful on the island. The island's fate was sealed by Perseus who was reputedly washed up on these rocky shores as a boy along with his mother Danae.
The pair were locked in a box and tossed into the sea by Danae's vengeful husband after she gave birth to Perseus by the all-powerful god Zeus. Danae's great beauty brought the unwanted attentions of the island's king so Perseus punished the lascivious Poly
deukes by slaying the snake-haired Gorgon Medusa and brandishing her head before the king who was duly petrified.

Serifos Island is an island gem with numerous sandy beaches and a beautiful capital perched on the top of a steep hill.

The rocky coastline is deeply indented with an alteration of coves and ba
ys....and certainly worth a visit if you are stressed and in need of some peace and quiet....

The next island in the vicinity is Sifnos, an island that was very wealthy in ancient times, thanks to its gold and silver mines. Proof of this, is the treasury which the Siphnians built at Delphi in the 6th century BC to house their offerings.

However, it appears that something went wrong with the mines; either they were worked out or flooded by the sea -we do not know which- and their production ceased.

According to mythology, the locals would give a golden egg to Apollo each year, but when the gold mines were almost depleted, they tried to fool
the god by painting as stone in stead. This angered the God so much, that he sent the tyrant Polycrates who took all precious metals from the island.

Due to the physiology of the island (rich clay veins, sunny weather and temperature) Sifnos has been traditionally the capital of pottery in the Aegean, with unique jars and pots that are a kind of "trademark" of the island. They are found frequently in the Sifnian everyday life, such as ashtrays, cooking and food vessels, "masteles",
"foufoudes" (kind of chimneys) etc.
Locally, 'Sifnios' was a variant word for potter.
Initially the oldest potteries were found in central regions such as Artemon and Ano Petali to avoid pirate attacks

A surprisingly green island for the Cyclades, Sifnos offers a good variety of peace and quiet and things to do. Even though it is a popular island, both amo
ngst Greeks and foreigners, it has kept its originality and is resisting the commercialisation many other islands have suffered.

The locals on Sifnos live off agriculture, the natural source of aluminum and tourism, and the olive trees grow practically everywhere.

A striking feature of this island is the many churches: there is a church for each day of the year, and most of them are only open on that day.

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