Ancient Syia

Syia was a spacious sheltered port, the seaport of Elyros, built on the site of the modern village of Sougia.

 

Syia was known to the writers of late antiquity. The anonymous author of Stadiasmus mentions a large port under the name Syva, and locates it at a distance of six stadia west of Poikilassos, on Trypiti cape. Stefanis Vyzandios defines it as the seaport of Elyros. The remains if the ancient town (walls, public buildings, residences, aqueduct, ancient pier) are also described by travellers of the 19th and 20th century.

 

The ancient port is not preserved since a strong earthquake during the 4th century A.D. caused the seashore to raise about 6m. The port facilities are consequently to be searched for on the shore. No such facilities have been located so far though.

Remains of the ancient city dating to the Roman and Early Christian times are preserved east of Sougianos (or Kamarianos) river as well as at the lower foot of the eastern mountain range. One of the most interesting monuments is the aqueduct that supplied the ancient town with water from a spring in Aghios Pavlos area, north of ancient Elyros. Remains of the aqueduct are visible on the road to Sougia, to a height about 5m. It consists of a channel on the upper part of a wall using gravity water flow.

River valleys were crossed by means of vaults. It is worth mentioning that the old road cut the aqueduct vertically, leaving its continuation on the eastern bank of the river. Cisterns that collected water for houses and thermae (public baths) are preserved in various locations. The archaeological site is also studded the ceramic and architectural remains. Ruins of houses and large buildings, the thermae, estimated to cover a surface of 3000m2 are also remarkable.

 

The necropolis of Syia is located on the western mountain range that blocks the valley to the east. Vaulted tombs, mostly single, opening to the west have been preserved, a type of tomb occurring also in the Roman necropolis of nearby Lissos.

 

Surface pottery has been traced at Vothonas site, a small plateau over the sea, to the east of the archaeological area. On the steep slope over the sea, parts of the town walls are preserved proving that the site was fortified. West of Kamarianos River, where the modern settlement is, there are no visible ruins of the ancient city.

 

It seems that the ancient Syia was a small provincial city that grew to a transit trade station thanks to abundant timber and its harbour facilities. It went on through the early centuries of the Christian era which the ruins of basilicas are dated too. One of them was excavated by A. Orlandos in 1952, to the west of the village, where Aghios Panteleimonas church is. It was dated to the 6th century A.D. It has three aisles, a narthex and a separate tripartite annex building, perhaps a baptistery. Two columns of the colonnades separating the aisles bear engraved prayers to St. Panteleimonas and St. Dimitrios. The narthex and central aisle are paved with a mosaic floor with plant and geometric decoration framing depictions of birds, peacocks, fish and deer. At a distance of approx. 200m. to the east, remains of another mosaic floor seem to belong to yet another Early Christian building perhaps a basilica as well.

 

To the east of Kamarianos river, together with the Roman Ruins, the apse and walls of a third basilica of the 6th century are preserved. Remains of walls and traces of a mosaic floor of one more building of early Christian period lies to the southeast. The city seems to have been destroyed by the Saracens who put an end to its historic course. The modern settlement dates back to the end of World War II and features a few samples of traditional architecture.

 

 

Source: Ministry of Culture and Sports

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