Skiathos is in the Greek Aegean Sea,one of the Northern Sporades group of islands and the closest to the Greek mainland. It is 41 nautical miles from the city of Volos. The island is 9 kms. wide and 12 kms. long. The main road
runs along the south-eastern coast of the island and there are other concrete and dirt roads connecting to the north of the island and inland. There is one main town , Skiathos Town. There are six small islands off the coast of Skiathos with sandy beaches and access by small boats leaving daily from Skiathos town. The islands are called: Arkos, Tsougrias, Tsougriaki, Aspronisos and Troulonisi. There are ferry/hydrofoil links to Skiathos from Volos, Thessaloniki and Aghios Konstantinos. The ferry/hydrofoil links also go to Skopelos and Alonissos (also in the Sporades group of islands). The island also has an airport with regular flights from Athens and international flights in the summer season.
The island’s name dates back to ancient times and Skiathos is one of the few islands in Greece which has never changed it’s name. Some say that the island was named after Dionysus, the Greek god of wine and festivity. He was also called Skianthios (similar to Skiathos) and was worshipped here in ancient times. Others say Skiathos got it’s name from Mount Athos (the Holy Mountain north of the island) as it’s shadow reaches the northern shores of the island (skia is the Greek word for shadow). Others say it was named Skiathos because of the shade (skia) provided by it’s green forests. Prehistoric findings show that the island was inhabited by Pelasgians and Cretans. In ancient times the island played a major role in the Persian Wars. In 480 BC the fleet of the Persian king, Xerxes, was hit by a storm and badly damaged on the rocks of the Skiathos coast. The Greek fleet blockaded the seas around the island to prevent supplies getting to the enemy being held at bay by the heroic 300 Spartans at Thermopylae Pass. The Persian fleet was defeated there by Artemissium and finally destroyed in the Battle of Salamis a year later. Skiathos remained in the Delian League until it lost it’s independence. The town was destroyed by Philip V of Macedon in 200 BC and rebuilt in the 7th century by the Chalkidians on the south-eastern part of the island. This gave the island two ports. Later during medieval times the Kastro (castle/fort) was built in the north of the island (this was easier to defend). There are no historical records remaining from Byzantine times but we know that the island was constantly at the mercy of pirates until the Turkish occupation.
In 1704 monks from Mount Athos built the Evangelistria Monastery. The monastery was used by the Greek rebels during the Greek War of Independence as a hideout. The first Greek flag was raised and created in Evangelistria Monastery
in Skiathos in 1807. Several prominent military leaders including Theodoros Kolokotronis and Andreas Miaoulis were at the Monastery organising the uprising and swore allegiance to the flag witnessed by the local bishop. During the 19th century
Skiathos became an important centre for the building of wooden boats (caiques) due to the abundance of local pine. This almost caused the obliteration of the pine forests but was halted by the emergence of steamboats. A small boatyard near Skiathos town still builds the traditional Greek caique.
Although small (less than 50sq. kms.) Skiathos is a popular tourist destination with visitors returning year after year. They are drawn by the island’s beauty. There are over 60 sandy beaches and many pebbled beaches along the coastline. All surrounded by green forests. Most of the beaches are accessible by car and others by boat. The beaches on the south of the island are the most popular – offering sea-sports, comfortable sun-beds and umbrellas, snack-bars and wc facilities.
Despite the island’s popularity it remains unspoilt with plenty of quieter beaches for those who prefer to be away from the crowds…. mostly on the north of the island. Tourism and agriculture are the island’s main source of income. Olives, walnuts and fruits grow in abundance and local wine and honey produced. The forests of Mandraki and Koukounaries are under the protection of Unesco and Skiathos is proud of it’s sparkling seas, clean beaches, lakes and forests.
For the more adventurous visitor Skiathos can be explored by bicycle or by foot along the island’s many hidden paths. Detailed walking and cycling guides are for sale on the island and many of the car rental companies also rent bicycles. For the lovers of sea-sports there are scuba-diving schools, ski schools, etc with instructors. The sea around Skiathos is clean and safe – ideal for swimming and snorkelling in the crystal clear water.
Although Skiathos is small there are plenty of things to see and do. The town is still picturesque and has managed to retain it’s traditional charm with it’s narrow alleyways, typical white buildings and cobbled streets.
You can visit the house of the famous writer, Alexandros Papadiamanti, who was born and brought-up on the island. The old town of Kastro (on the north-side of the island) is also well worth a visit. Situated on a hill above a beautiful bay the views are spectacular. There are also many churches and monasteries to visit especially Evangelistria Monastery (mentioned above) which has a music museum and many local products for sale such as olive oil, wine, tsĪ¹pouro (popular drink similar to ouzo) and sweets.

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