The origins of life in Skiathos are lost in the misty background of mythology.
According to the available historical evidence, the island’s first inhabitants were Pelasgians, who were followed by Cretans, Thessalians (in the Mycenean period) and Chalcidians. Herodotus mentions Skiathos as the only island of the Northern Sporades that took part in the Persian Wars.
On the reef called Myrminx or Lefteris, in the narrows between the west coast of Skiathos and the east coast of Pelion, one can see the remains of a stone column. It has been conjectured that this may have been a memorial put up by the Persians to commemorate an engagement between three Greek ships and ten of their own. Another school of thought holds that it was some kind of seamark, possibly even a lighthouse, built by the Xerxe’s expeditionary force. If the second theory is correct, it makes this one of the oldest seamarks in the world, since it predates the Pharos of Alexandria by about two hundred years.
In 476 B.C. Kimon enlisted Skiathos in the first Athenian Confederacy.
In 403 it was captured by the Spartans, only to be retaken by the Athenians in 394 and brought into the second Athenian Confederacy. On the whole island seems to have had a friendly relationship with Athens, because later in the 4th century we find it mentioned as one of the Athenians’ outports against the threatening presence of Phillip of Macedon. Eventually, however, it fell to the Macedonians, and then in the middle of the 2nd century B.C. it was captured by the Romans under Septimus Severus.
Under the Byzantine Empire (A.D. 330-1207) Skiathos was left to languish in poverty, a small, obscure, out-of-the-way island. We can tell that Christianity took root and flourished there, however, because it was an episcopical see as early as the 4th century. In the 1207 it shared the fate of the rest of the Northern Sporades and came under the Gbizzi, a Venetian family whose rule lasted until 1276. It was then won back for the Byzantium and remained in the Byzantine Empire until the Fall of Constantinople in 1453. During this period it suffered heavily from pirate raids, which eventually (in the mid-14th century) forced the inhabitants to abandon the old town and build a new one, now known as Kastro, a precipitous rocky headland at the northernmost tip of the island. The remains of this medieval town are still visible today: streets, houses and churches, all in ruins. The 17th century church of the Nativityis still in good condition and has a number of fine icons.
After the Fall of Constantinople the island was ruled by the Venetians until 1538, when it was sacked by Khaireddin Barbarossa, and brought into the Ottoman Empire. Throughout the centuries of thralldom and running was that followed, culminating in the 1821 War of Independence, the people of Skiathos rendered sterling service to the freedom fighters. Here a safe refuge was always available for combatants fleeing from the Turkish oppressor and many Greek sea-captains (among them Vlakhavas, Nikotsaras, Sthathas and Tselios) used the island as a base.
With the liberation, the Northern Sporades were officially incorporated in the independent Greek state in 1830, under the terms of the London Protocol. It was only then that the inhabitants abandoned Kastro and rebuilt the town on its original site, where it is today.
Come and join us on a trip to one of the loveliest of all Greek islands!
Spend a few carefree days, let yourself go into the loving, virginal embrace of the sapphire waves, spread yourself on a serene tropic strand, poised between sun and sea. An aromatic pot-pourri of thyme, wild flowers and fresh scented pine from the inexhaustible profusion of nature’s beauty, takes you back to your childhood books of fairy-tales and promises to impress fragrant memories on the pages of your own life.