Serifos (Greek: Σέριφος) is a Greek island municipality in the Aegean Sea, located in the western Cyclades, south of Kythnos and northwest of Sifnos.
In Greek mythology, Serifos is where Danaë and her infant son Perseus washed ashore after her father Acrisius, in response to an oracle that his own grandson would kill him, set them adrift at sea in a wooden chest. When Perseus returned to Serifos with the head of the Gorgon Medusa, he turned Polydektes, the king of Serifos, and his retainers into stone as punishment for the king’s attempt to marry his mother by force.
In antiquity the island was proverbial for the alleged muteness of its frogs. During the Roman imperial period, Serifos was a place of exile. After 1204 it became a minor dependency of the Venetian dukes of the Archipelago. In the late 19th century Serifos experienced a modest economic boom from exploitation of the island’s extensive iron ore deposits. The mines closed in the 1960s, and Serifos now depends on tourism and small-scale agriculture.
Worked blocks of island marble built into the walls of the medieval castle crowning Chora, the hilltop main town of Serifos, show that the ancient capital was there as well. Chance finds, primarily marble funerary sculpture, are displayed in the Archaeological Collection in Chora.
The most impressive ancient monument is the White Tower (Άσπρος Πύργος), a Hellenistic marble watchtower (ca. 300 BC) with walls preserved to 2 m. and an interior staircase, standing on a hilltop just east of the road from Chora to Mega Livadi, near Mega Chorio. Work began in 2011 to study the fallen blocks for an eventual reconstruction.
At least four other ancient towers have been located, including the megalithic Psaros Pyrgos (Ψαρός Πύργος) or “Couch of the Cyclops” in the SW corner of the island. The so-called “Castle of the Old Lady” (Κάστρο της Γριάς) above Ganema and Koutalas preserves scant remains of a collapsed dry-stone construction in a notch below the twin rocky summits. Rough fragments of white marble and rooftile, and archaic fine-ware potsherds on the SE terraces of the hillside, suggest the existence of an ancient sanctuary.
The fortified Monastery of the Taxiarchs, dedicated to the Archangels Michael and Gabriel, was built in 1572 just E of the village of Galani. The sole monk is Archimandrite Makarios, who entered the monastery as a youth in 1958 and continues (June 2012) to maintain it with admirable devotion.