Skopelos Island History & Culture

SedoukiaSkopelos island is 12.5 miles long and covers an area of 37 sq miles. Archaeologists believe that important settlements existed in the Sporades as early as the Neolithic period. The tombs at Sendoukia in the middle of the island would suggest that there was almost certainly such a colonisation on Skopelos.

Ancient MonumentsNamed Peparethos by the ancient Greeks, the island was a colony of Minoan Crete. It is under the name Peparethos that it is first mentioned in ancient texts and descriptions. Legend has it that Prince Stafilos (son of the God Dionyssos and Ariadne - the daughter of the King of Minos) was both the founder and ruler of the island. In 1936 the legend was brought to life by the discovery of an extremely rich grave at Stafilos. The many artifacts included a gold handled sword dating from the Hellenic times. It is the largest Mycenaean sword yet discovered and suggests that this was the tomb of a royal personage who died around the time the Cretan settlement was established.

The Cretans brought with them the cultivation of olives and grapes and, for many centuries, Peparethos was famed for its oil and wine. This fact and its position on the crossroads of major trade routes meant that the island was plagued by piracy for many centuries - in fact up until the early part of the 1900s.


Ancient MonumentsIn the 14th century, Skopelos became the seat of a succession of Venetian barons, including Filippo Bizzi and they founded a fortress at the top of the village, the remains of which can be seen today. Bizzi's capture by the resurgent Byzantines marked a period of relative peace which was broken by the pirate Barbarossa, who decimated the islands community in 1538. Through the following centuries of domination of Greece by Turkey, Skopelos managed to preserve a spirit of independence and persecuted freedom fighters from the mainland took refuge here. In the 1820s there were 70,000 people resident! (even in August now, the maximum number on the island is 20,000). The islands took an active part in the struggle for independence and, with the signing of the London Protocol in 1830, Skopelos became part of the new Greek nation.

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