You may wish to see an introductory page first.
Symi is a small island six miles off the Asian coast: it is very arid: in the past (similar to Castelrosso) its importance was due to a very well repaired natural harbour on its eastern coast.
In 1309 the Knights of Rhodes landed on the island and built a castle on a hill overlooking on one side the harbour and on the other a small valley where some farming could be developed. The harbour is not visible from the open sea and the Knights kept there a fleet of light ships for their raids. A small arsenal built and repaired these vessels: the inhabitants acquired a reputation as carpenters which lasted until the early XXth century.
View of the upper town
The old town surrounded the castle and only in more recent times it expanded towards and around the harbour.
Views of the northern and western sides of the castle: photo taken on "Katari Deytera" (Ash Monday) when the traditional lunch is based on octopuses, shrimps, sea-urchins, etc.
The northern and western sides of the castle were protected by the steepness of the hill: there was only one mule-track leading to the old town. The steps you see in the image (far right) were added in the 1920s when the island was under Italian administration.
The castle was strengthened by Grand Master Emery d'Amboise in 1507 by adding a round bastion. It was greatly damaged during WWII and the portal at its entrance and its upper part were lost.
(left) Church at the top of the fortress; (right) the last sentinel
There are two small churches on the site of the castle: the larger one has been painted with the colours prevailing in some Cycladic islands (especially in Paros), while the typical architecture of Symi is entirely different and marked by red tiled roofs sheltering water tanks.
Coats of arms: (left to right) Order/Grand Master Zacosta (1461-67)/Grand Master Milly (1454-61)/Order/Symi commander
The coats of arms in the upper part of the castle which was blown up during WWII have been placed on the walls of the church: they belong to Grand Masters who first strengthened the fortifications of Rhodes after the 1453 fall of Constantinople.
Views from the castle
The image used as background for this page shows a coat of arms of Grand Master d'Amboise on the walls of the castle.
Rhodes: the Gates
Rhodes: the Fortifications
Rhodes: the Town of the Knights
Rhodes: Byzantine, Ottoman and Jewish memories
Rhodes: modern Italian architecture
Kos: the Fortress
Kos: the Ancient Town
St. Peter's Castle (Bodrum)