Monday, 21 September 2015

On the way to Serifos

Situated in the Aegean archipelago, and named from the circle they form around the sacred island of Delos, the site of the holiest sanctuary to Apollo, the Cyclades islands are stunningly beautiful: Ochre-coloured, rugged hills; plunging coastlines; cinnamon sand; ink blue sea; stunning villages with white-washed, cuboid houses on a hillside above an azure bay; the odd windmill or domed church - are all the ingredients that make up the Cyclades.

This group of islands had a very sophisticated civilisation in Late Neolithic and Early Bronze Age. Cycladic art flourished between 2000 and 3000 BC and is characterised by its minimalist simplicity and its influence is prevalent in the architecture of some of the Cycladic islands today.

It's best exemplified by the schematic, flat idols carved out of the islands' pure white marble which were made centuries before the great Middle Bronze Age (Minoan) culture arose in Crete and which are so similar to the sculpture of Jean Arp or Constantin Brancusi. The context for many of these Cycladic figurines has been mostly destroyed and their meaning may never be completely understood.

On the way to Serifos our boat made a short stop at Kythnos island and I was able to take a few photos from the deck as people were boarding.

The town by the harbour has been built recently to accommodate the boat traffic

looking closer one can see the terraces that have been built on the hillside to prevent landslides -  a very characteristic Cycladic feature

There are no trees on the majority of the Cyclades except for a few that have been imported from other parts of Greece

and the barren landscape has its own charm 

as does the light at the end of summer.

An hour later we were docking in Serifos

and the view of the Hora up on the hill took my breath away. The way it spills across the summit of the rocky hill is staggeringly beautiful

Hora is the name given to all the capitals of the islands, even though most of them have their own individual names. People used to say 'I am going to the Hora', i.e. the capital, and the name has stuck.




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