Sifnos is located in the Aegean Sea and it belongs to the south-western Cyclades (located between Serifos, Kimolos and Paros). It is situated about 75, 6 nautical miles from Piraeus. Sifnos is a medium-sized island; it has an area of 73, 2 km² and a shoreline of 73 km. To the south of Sifnos, there is the small islet of Kitriani. Sifnos is traversed by four parallel mountain chains and its main summits are those of Prophitis Ilias (682 m.), at the center of the island and of Agios Simeon (463 m.) in the North. The human creations of outstanding aesthetics, which are characterized by moderation and plasticity are integrated harmoniously into the natural beauty of the landscape and make Sifnos one of the most prized islands for its local culture, its architecture and the quality of its population, who always keep the island neat. In Sifnos there are 13 villages and beaches that are inhabited all year round and most of their buildings follow the tradition.
In the ancient times, Sifnos had gold and silver mines and quarries of “Sifnian Stone”, from which the Sifnians were creating the famous tableware such as the “sifnian glasses”. The island is connected to Piraeus, Milos, Kimolos, Serifos, Kythnos, Paros and Syros by boat all year round. Boat traffic increases during the summer months and more connections are added. At the area of Tholos in the South-east, there is a heliport. The closest airports to the island are those of Paros, of Milos and of Syros.
The numerous churches and monasteries of Sifnos are closely related to the history, the architectural tradition and the religious – social life of the island. From a historical point of view, the Sifnians made the best of the privileges granted to them by the Turk sultans, regarding the free expression of their Christian faith. Many of the churches and the monasteries of Sifnos are of high architectural and religious interest and they have been designated as historical monuments. Many of the churches and the monasteries of Sifnos are of high architectural and religious interest and they have been designated as historical monuments.Even though there aren’t any active monasteries on the island nowadays, Sifnos’ monasteries are still of an exceptional historical and religious value.
In Sifnos the most impressive monument of the past is the….present, the moment one sets foot on the island! It is in the way of life of the Sifnians to “marry” the present to the past so harmoniously as if they follow a recipe that…only they know! Every year, on the Sunday of the Holy Spirit, the Sifnians give the…signal by lighting a fire on an ancient tower. One tower follows the other and soon, the ancient Greek communication network is”reactivated” again after thousands of years and the spectacle is impressive! For the Sifnians, keeping the old customs is a rite. From the greatest celebration to… the smallest feast. In Sifnos every month we “celebrate” the feast of at least one of the hundreds of country churches and monasteries of the island.
Among other things, Sifnos has connected its name with Nikos Tselementes, not only because it is the birthplace of the famous chef and of many other distinguished chefs but mainly because the gastronomic habits of the past are a living part of its tradition. Based on the local agricultural and livestock products, the sweet-smelling thyme honey, the wild greens and herbs, the Sifnians have exploited with remarkable technique everything that their land offered them, by cooking with love food and sweets baked in wood-fired ovens, and in earthen pots. Every event of the sifnian life and every season keeps …its own taste for years now. The main dish on the traditional Sunday table is the chick-pea soup, which is cooked in an earthen pot (skepastaria) for many hours, all night long, in a wood-fired oven. At Christmas, the finikia (honey-cookies) and the avgokalamara (honey rolls) smell delicious in every house of the island.
How to Get to Sifnos
During the summer, the island is connected daily by boats to Piraeus and to the islands of Milos route (Kythnos, Serifos, Kimolos, Milos). The duration of the trip by conventional ferries is five hours and by high-speed ferries is about three hours. The island is also connected by boat to many islands of the Cyclades: Paros, Naxos, Mykonos, Tinos, Andros, Syros, Folegandros, Ios, Santorin etc. During the rest of the year, the frequency of the sea transportation is formed according to the season. Visitors are advised to check with the relevant port authorities or agencies before traveling to and from the island.
Information and pictures courtesy of the Official Website of Sifnos – http://www.sifnos.gr/