The island of Syros, the administrative, commercial, and cultural capital of the Cyclades, was a major shipbuilding center before and after Greece
won its hard-fought independence in 1821. During its 19th-century heyday, its neoclassical capital, Ermoupolis, was packed with finishing schools and literary salons. The city still has a sizable student population and thriving cultural scene. The Apollon 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.