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The Magnificent Church of Saint Nicholas on Syros, Greece

Saint Nicholas Syros
Saint Nicholas dominates the skyline at Ermoupolis, the capital of the island of Syros. Credit: Hans Peter Schaefer, CC BY-SA 3.0/Wikipedia

The Church of Saint Nicholas, a magnificent church in Ermoupolis, the capital of Syros, took twenty-two years to build.

Overlooking the Cycladic island, Saint Nicholas’ construction began in 1848, following the designs of a Greek architect named G. Metaxas. They were personally approved by King Otto, the Bavarian prince who ruled Greece from the establishment of the monarchy in 1832. The church was finally completed in 1870.

Saint Nicholas, the patron saint of seafarers, is also the patron saint of Ermoupoli. The cathedral dedicated to him stands out even to this day for its impressive architectural structure. The two-story monumental church has marble bell towers, an imposing marble staircase and marble propylaea, Ionic columns, archaic motifs, arcades, and an array of sculpted decorations.

It has lavish interiors including its icon of Saint Nicholas, which was plated in silver in Moscow. Its marble throne, pulpit, and marble iconostasis are also very unusual in Greek ecclesiastical architecture.

Saint Nicholas Church one of the finest in Greece

St. Nicholas was constructed between 1883 to 1899 by Tinian sculptor G. Vitalis and is considered one of the finest churches of the nineteenth century in Greece.

Saint Nicholas temple
The Church of Saint Nicholas. Credit: Hans Peter Schaefer, CC BY-SA 3.0/Wikipedia

The church’s icons were created by some of the best hagiographers of the time while many Greeks from abroad, including shipowners, contributed funds toward the construction of the temple.

Internally, arches divide the church into three aisles; places for female congregants run along its three sides.

The imposing church is known as Agios Nikolaos “the rich,” to distinguish it from “Agios Nikolaos of the poor” another church on Syros.

Syros has a long history that began three millennia ago

Syros’ long history explains the many different styles of architecture and the many government buildings in the capital, Ermoupoli. It has also led to the establishment of a wealth of museums and cultural events that take place there in the summer.

On Syros, one will find City Hall, comprised of the remains of the castle in Ano Syros and the Theater Apollon—all buildings atypical of Cycladic architecture.

Syros was never under Ottoman occupation since it was protected by the French, and there is a strong Catholic element on the island due to the Venetian influence there as well.

Nowadays, the island is world-renowned for its rich cultural tradition with events that take place in Ermoupolis, such as the International Classical Music Festival of Cyclades, ANIMASYROS International Animation Festival, Ermoupoleia Cultural Festival etc that offer a range of options for every visitor to experience.

Related: Syros: The Lady of the Aegean Islands

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