Now, as I see it......

By JohnRH

Lazy Sunday afternoon

I've not entered the 'Derelict Sunday' challenge before but there is so much material here it seems churlish not to.

Until the Italian occupation of the Dodecanese in 1912 Symi was a prosperous island, with boat building and sponge diving the main industries. Most of the wood on the island was felled to build boats but the move from sailing to steam ships finally killed the industry. At the same time sponges were over-fished so the other main industry also failed. Families were forced to emigrate to the US and Australia leaving behind their homes and the island population fell from 22,500 to around 2,500. Although they had been abandoned, the ownership of the properties remained with the families who had left and so the houses fell into ruin. Although most of the dereliction has been caused simply by time, when the German army abandoned the island on 24th September 1944 they blew up an ammunition dump at the top of the old town to prevent it falling into Allied hands which had a devastating effect on the houses nearby.

This particular ruin is probably one of the most photographed houses on Symi. It is a short way up the Kali Strata, the main steps up to the old town and which would have been where all the prosperous people lived. This house is the most grand of them all, and in years gone by you could wander in for a look around so I know that from the back it commands a magnificent view over the harbour below. Many people have said they would love to restore it but because it is owned by a family somewhere on the other side of the world who quite probably do not even know it exists, it continues to crumble.

I've added an extra of a nearby house which is being taken over from the inside by fig trees. When we first came here 22 years ago most of the adjoining houses were in the same condition but thankfully many have now been restored.

A lazy day; we spent a couple or three hours wandering round the harbour this morning with a bit of shopping and a lot of people watching, then sat on our patio reading all afternoon. There was a large cruise ship moored off the island with passengers being ferried in by the ships tenders. One Taverna owner we know told us she will get no business from all the extra people as they are 'all inclusive' on their ship so won't spend any money buying lunch on shore.

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