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The administrative, commercial, and cultural capital of the Cyclades, Syros was a major shipbuilding center before and after Greece won its hard-fought independence in 1821. In its 19th-century heyday, the neoclassical capital, Ermoupolis, was packed with finishing schools and literary salons. It still has a sizable student population and thriving cultural scene. The Apollo Theater, built in 1864, is a miniature replica of Milan’s La Scala, with red velvet boxes and painted ceilings featuring Aeschylus, Homer, and Euripides alongside Verdi, Rossini, and Bellini. An eclectic lineup of folk, jazz, classical, and opera singers perform here year-round. The Festival of the Aegean in July draws the biggest international stars.