The love of Sifnians for their homeland ensures authentic experiences
Locals keep their island’s traditions and history alive, while they are always happy to share these with visitors. So – beyond the anticipated – Sifnos offers several unique activities that give the chance to its aficionados to truly experience the place and form memories of a lifetime.
Early in June, the 76 ancient towers of the island go live thanks to the volunteers who revive “friktories”, the ancient beacon communication system. Constructed in between the 6th and 3rd century B.C., these towers were in contact with the citadels of the island alerting them for possible pirate raids as Sifnos in ancient times was rich in gold, silver and lead deposits. Today, just a few of these towers are in good shape. On the other hand, the Mycenaean Citadel of Aghios Andreas, dating back to the 13th century B.C., is an excellent example of display and enhancement of archaeological ruins (awarded by Europa Nostra organization), giving visitors an overview on the history of the island and the wider Aegean area.*
Famous for this art since 3000 B.C., Sifnos was the one that developed and spread the knowledge on pottery making throughout the Cycladic and Helladic world. Blessed with rich clay deposits, abundant water, the strong Aegean sunlight and of course the skillfulness of its artists, Sifnos was known over the centuries for its large production of clay pots and other vessels, while today it is still praised for pottery of exceptional aesthetics and functionality.*
The feasts taking place at Sifnos throughout the year to celebrate some saint may be the most authentic all over the Aegean Sea;Imagine arriving at the end of a long footpath on the mountain and the “panigiras” is welcoming you on the church yard with typical almond sweets and cold water from the well. You enter the church adorned with flowers, you watch the locals chanting and you join them. And then, after the mass, the table is set over and over again to serve the traditional chickpea soup and goat meat with pasta cooked on wood fire right there in the church, with abundant love for all; while at the same time wine, violins and traditional island dances till the morning bring locals and visitors closer. An experience that you have to live at least once in your lifetime.*
Sifnos has a well preserved and signaled network of footpaths of about 200 kilometers, continuously used by the islanders over the centuries. Today, every path is a new discovery for visitors. Dove cotes, dry stone walls, haystacks, remote churches, ancient towers and protected plants and herbs are just a few of the island’s treasures. So, whether the path is leading to a monastery on a steep mountaintop with panoramic views or to a secret bay with crystal clear waters, the only sure thing is that Sifnos is a paradise for trekking.*
With more than 300 churches, chapels and monasteries crowning settlements, mountains and beautiful bays, Sifnos is also a religious destination. Many of its churches and monasteries have been characterized as historical monuments of exceptional religious and architectural value. “Panigiria” – traditional religious feasts – and Easter time constitute the ideal occasions for those who want to experience devoutness, local customs and the beauty of the island while visiting several churches.*
With Nikolaos Tselementes, one of the most influential Greek chefs of the early 20th century, born and raised in Sifnos, the island has always been and continues to be famous for its culinary tradition. The Sunday chickpea soup simmering all night long in a clay pot on the village’s wood stove, the juicy goat meat of “mastelo” dish cooked with red wine and dill, the piquant “manoura” cheese ripened in grape must, the slightly sour soft “mizithra” goat cheese, the aromatic lokum and almond sweets and the unique honey pie “melopita” cannot but satisfy even the most demanding gourmands. Those who want to find out the secrets of the Sifnian traditional recipes can look for one of the hospitable kitchens of the island, while, if visiting the island in September, you will have the chance to attend the vibrant Tselementes Festival with delicacies from Sifnos and the rest of the Cyclades.*