Cycladic civilization: Traces of a living civilization which belonged somewhere between the Neolithic period and the age of copper were found in Cape Chondra, Koskinas, Vari and on the Agia Thekla location, over the village of Chroussa, along with some more recent specimens in Sa Michali of the Apano Meria village.
During the 3rd millennium BC, one of the five most important early civilizations in the world, known as Cycladic civilization, or Keros-Syros culture, is developed in the region. The findings in Chalandriani and Kastri prove that during this period, the population had significantly increased. The people of this civilization live of farming, agriculture and fishing, while there are proofs of a vivid cultural activity and exchange with other civilizations. This era reaches its end around 1900 BC.
Towards the end of the Geometric period, Syros is defined by its Ionic influences, since the island had developed strong contacts with many Ionic cities. The pre-Socratic philosopher Pherecydes of Syros is born in Ano Syros around 6th century BC.
According to archaeological research, there were two Archaic settlements near today's Ermoupoli (near Kimisi church) and near Galissas (in the location of Agia Pakou). These settlements survive during the Classical and the Hellenistic period, while in the meantime the inland the population starts to move to the inland.
Syros joins the Delian league. After the battle of Chaeronea (338 BC) which marks the end of the Greek city-states, the island comes under the command of Philip II of Macedonia. The fortification and the presence of watchtowers built in about the same period prove the first efforts of protection against invaders. During that period, Syros had a parliament which was comparable to the parliament of Athens.
Traces of Ancient Greek constructions are found in Alithini, Galissas and in the Northern part of the island. Syros develops a commercial activity with Delos. The port of Syros is one of the greatest ports of that time. Coins minted in Syros are found even in Syria, something which proves its great development. About the same period, the town of Galissas is partially abandoned, while Ermoupoli becomes the center of the island's activity. By the 1st century BC, Ermoupoli is a marine crossroad of the Aegean sea.
The 3rd century AD buildings indicate that the roman era was a period of development and prosperity for the island. Towards the end of the ancient world the island goes through a period of calmness and stability as the locals begin to take up agricultural and farming activities.
- EARLY CHRISTIANITY - EARLY BYZANTINE PERIOD (4th century AD - 9th century AD):
During this time (between 4th and 7th century AD) Syros and the rest of the Aegean sea, is scourged by pirate raids. The fear of Saracen, Arab and Slav corsairs condemns this island to desolation as it is forced to withdraw from its former vivid activities. The hilltop of Ano Syros, very near to the once lively ancient city, is the only populated village that can be viewed from the sea.
- THE PERIOD AFTER THE 4TH CRUSADE
After the 4th crusade in 1204 AD, the Venetians, who reign over the Aegean sea, build a fortress around Ano Syros which then becomes the island's most important location. This marks the propagation of the Catholic faith among some islands of the Aegean, notably Syros. The Western rule lasts till 1579, when Hayreddin Barbarossa seizes the island on behalf of the Sultan.
13th century AD: The island (and the rest of the Cyclades) after being seized by the Venetians, is forced to surrender to Marco Sanudo, as part of the Duchy of the Archipelago.
- PERIOD OF THE TURKISH RULE
During the period of the Turkish rule, Syros is granted some privileges and the island enjoys some kind of administrative liberties.
- THE GREEK WAR OF INDEPENDENCE
By the end of the Greek War of Independence, many Greeks from the most suffering parts of Greece seek refuge in Syros. After the destruction of Chios, Kassos and Psarra, the shore fills with hutments. However, the refugees happen to be very experienced merchants with a deep knowledge of the economic circumstances under the war, so they take advantage of developing commercial relations with enterprises of the Greek Diaspora, who work and prosper abroad. The newcomers have formed communities, neighborhoods and have built orthodox churches. The richest among them have built sumptuous mansions in the eastern side of the port, in the Vaporia neighborhood.
Since 1825, Syros Island, thanks to its location in the heart of the Aegean Sea, becomes an important transit trade port. It soon becomes the center of the commercial activity of Greece. A shipyard is built on the west of the port. The first Greek industries (tanning industries, metal workshops, textile industries etc) are installed in this Island. The wealth of Syros is reflected in sumptuous neoclassical mansions of the rich in the Vaporia neighborhood.
Around the 20th century, Syros begins to lose its great wealth and its commercial position, as the rest of Greece is quickly developing. The port of Ermoupoli can no longer compete with the port of Piraeus. Many of the island's industries are forced to close. Only the shipyard, which once was the heart of the Greek Shipping Industry, still gives employment to the people in Syros. When the shipyard temporarily closes in the 80's, Syros' economy passed through rough times. For quite a long time, the island's economy depended almost uniquely on the shipping business. The reopening of the shipyards in 1994, after passing into private hands and the tourism development helped the island to overcome its difficulties.
Syros' architecture is influenced by a Western-European style which is mainly characterized by the Romantic Classicism in architecture. This is due to the fact that the island had always had a close relation with the West, thanks to its commercial activity and also because the construction of the city was trusted to European architects (mostly Germans and Italians).
The houses of Syros could be classified, judging by their general characteristics, in three types:
The first type comprises those popular, simple dwellings, common to the Cycladic Islands since the period of the Turkish rule. Most of them date since early 19th century, mostly since 1821 and on. However, many features of those popular houses survived in the style of the neoclassical constructions.
The second type comprises the majority of the houses. Most houses are built following the particular neoclassical style developed in Ermoupoli in the 19th century, which blends Greek and Renaissance elements.
The third type comprises those neoclassical buildings which have an influence of the Athenian architecture of that time.
The public buildings of the island are considered to be living monuments of the past. The commons features of those buildings are the marble facades, the skillful wall-building in stone and marble, the robust construction, the decorative elements, simple or elaborate which prove an architectural mastery and a successful application of classical architecture.
Ano Syros, Ermoupoli, Episkopeio, Parakopi, Posidonia and Chroussa are officially classified as protected urban sites of Greece's cultural heritage.