Some are paved with stones, and others are dirt tracks. However they are, they don not cease to be material proof that man can intervene on and still have respect for the natural environment, aiming not only to cover people’s vital needs, but also act to protect the environment (such as with dry stone walls). On the other hand, the paths are a challenge to the future, since they can contribute even more to showcasing Sifnos as a destination for tourism and culture, with mild interventions.
An ever-present element of Sifnian tradition, the paths serve farming and animal farming life – even in places where there exists an alternate access route – since they are used on a daily basis so that people and animals can reach pastures and thimonies (simple one-roomed constructions covering the basic needs of the farmers).
They are also of interest to wanderers on foot, who can enjoy the beautiful vistas of an “other”, green and fragrant Sifnos, during the autumn and especially spring seasons, where they can gather herbs, greens and wild flowers which grow freely everywhere, or reach secluded beaches and relax in the clear, blue sea.
During their walks, visitors can get to know small, white churches, or more imposing monasteries, that are still completely harmonious with their natural environment. It is certain that they shall be enchanted by their beauty, and impressed by the deep religious beliefs of those who chose, despite the lack of means of their times, to express their faith at these places, despite the effort required.
There are also “monuments” of popular culture around to discover, such as wells, springs, pigeon houses, thimonies (simple one-roomed constructions covering the basic needs of the farmers), ancient towers (beacons), mines, threshing fields, lime-burner kilns, and thousands of meters of dry stone walls.
Some of the paths of Sifnos are mentioned as examples here:
At Katavati (“Firogia” location) one can find the beginning of the path that leads to the Prophet Elias “Apsilos” (part of the path was restored in the last few years with funding by the Leader+ programme).
In the “Kade” region (on the road to Vathi) one can find the beginning of a short, uphill path that leads to the Mycenaean Citadel of Agios Andreas, and to the homonymous church, where one can admire the archaeological finds and rest at the church yard, while enjoying the panoramic view over the villages of Sifnos and the nearby islands.
To the west of the island, there exist plenty of old paths that lead to churches and monasteries, such as the Holy Unmercenaries (Agii Anargiri), Saint Eustace (Aï Stathis), the Taxiarch of Skafi (Taxiarchis Skafis), The Virgin Mary of the Sun (Panagia tou Iliou), Saint John (Aï Giannis), and Mavro Chorio.
On the northern part of Sifnos, some other paths promise to lead the visitor, through the wonderful fragrances of the sifnian land, to churches such as Saint John (Aï Giannis), The Virgin Mary of Maggana (Panagia ta Maggana), Saint George (Aï Giorgis) at Livadakia, Saint Salvador (Aï Sostis) at the Mines, Saint Sylvester (Aï Silvestros), Saint Nikitas (Aï Nikitas) (where once stood an ancient citadel), Saint Symeon (Agios Symeon) (on the top of the hill of the same name), the Prophet Elias (Prophitis Ilias) of Troulaki, Saint Nicholas (Aï Nikolas), and Saint George (Aï Giorgis) of Cheronissos.
From Platis Gialos to Saint George (Aï Giorgis) of Fikiada, from the Mongou region to The Virgin Mary of Toso Nero (Panagia To Toso Nero), from Artemonas to The Virgin Mary Poulati (Panagia Poulati) (which is also accessible by another path from Kastro), from Vathi to Platis Gialos, Saint Nicholas (Aï Nikolas), Aerina and Mavro Chorio, from Glipho (Faros beach) to Apokofto (Chrissopigi), from Exabela to Agia Fotini (Saint Fotini), Erkies and the villages of Kato Petali and Kastro, the paths provide visitors with unique opportunities for relaxation and enjoyment.
During the last few years, the local community, understanding more and more the need to salvage and protect these paths, has made a coordinated effort to clear, mark and chart them. This effort is supported by the Periphery of the Northern Aegean (continuing the work commenced by Prefecture of East Cyclades), the Municipality of Sifnos, the Greek Association for the Environment and Culture, Beautification and Commercial Associations from the island, and many volunteers.
Culturally significant routes on Sifnos Island
After a local survey by
the Cultural Department of the ex-Prefectural Administration of Cyclades
Route 1:Artemonas (Saint Luke) – Poulati – Kastro – Seralia – Monastery of Vrissi – Agios Andreas - Holy Unmercenaries (Agioi Anargiri Ftochiani) – Firogia
Route 2: Kastro – Kalamaki – Saint John of Siderou (Agios Ioannis Siderou) – Faros – Apokofto
Route 3: Apollonia – Kato Petali – Monastery of Vrissi – Agios Thomas – Platis Gialos
Route 4: Platis Gialos – Mousia – Fikiada – Kodou – Prophet Elias of Kodou (Profitis Ilias Kodou)
Route 5: Katavati – Thaxiarch of Skafi, with two branches:
- 5a: Mavro Chorio – Saint Nicholas of Aerina (Ai Nikolas t’Aerina) – Vathi, or
- 5b: The Virgin Mary of Nigio (Panagia tou Nigiou) – Kalamitsi – Vathi
Route 6: Apollonia – Theologian of Mongou (Theologos of Mongou) – Saint Eleutherios (Agios Eleftherios), with two branches:
- 6a:Mavri Spilia – Kamares, or
- 6b: The Virgin Mary of Toso Nero (Panagia Toso Nero) – Flabouro – Agia Marina – Taxiarch of Skafi – Firogia
Route 7: Ano Petali – The Virgin Mary of the Platan (Panagia tou Platanou) – Saint Lazarus (Agios Lazaros) – Saint Symeon (Agios Symeon) - Troulaki
Route 8: Artemonas – Saint Anne (Agia Anna) – The Virgin Mary of Magana (Panagia Ta Magana) – Saint Minas (Agios Minas) – [Saint Sostis (Agios Sostis)] – Saint Nikitas (Agios Nikitas) – Diavrouchas – [Saint Philip (Agios Filipos)] – Cheronissos