Skopelos is the greenest island in Greece. Here, where the green of the pine-trees and the dense forest mix with the deep blue of sea and sky, creating the picture of unrivalled nature beauty, you will find yourself in an idyllic land, in a small paradise in the very heart of Greece. Because the island of Skopelos is defined by lush green forest and the blue of the sea the International Organization of Biopolitics, on July the 5th 1997, officially proclaimed it "Green and Blue Island". More than 50% of the island area is covered by a virgin forest of pine-trees. A forest which, when you visit Skopelos, will also need your love and care in order to maintain the natural beauty and ecological balance that has survived for nearly 4000 years.
Similarly the town of Skopelos, by presidential decree, (19/10/1978 Presidential Decree 594,13-11/78). was honored as a Traditional Settlement of outstanding beauty. (The Greek equivalent of a site of Outstanding Architectural Inheritance).
Geographically Skopelos is an Aegean island situated in the central-northwest Aegean, est of Pelion and north of Evia. It has 67km of rich rugged coastline, being 17km long and 8km wide. The population is approximately 5.700 native Skopelitans and is the second largest island in the Northern Sporades (Skiathos, Skopelos, Alonnisos and Skyros).The island belongs to the province of Magnesia and forms the municipality of Skopelos.
The town of Skopelos has 4.000 inhabitants.
There are also three more villages on the island.
Glossa(1.300 inhabitants) with Loutraki (the second harbor of the island, port of Glossa), Klima (50 inhabitants) and Elios (350 inhabitants)
The island was inhabited probably in the Neolithic period. Its ancient name was Peparethos and is mentioned by the pre-Hellenic people of Asia Minor who settled in the Aegean region in the period 2800 - 2000 BC. This name is mentioned likewise by Thoukydides.
Around 1600 BC Cretans whose leader was the mythical king Staphylos, son of Theseus and Ariadne, settled the island.
As tradition reminds us, Theseus, son of Aegeas king of Athens, was sent with 7 young boys and 7 young girls to the Cretan king Minos, as a duty demanded by Athens, intended to be offered as sacrifice to the Minotaur (a strange creation of mythology, half man, half bull) who lived in the labyrinth underneath the palace of Knosos in Crete. There, Theseus became acquainted with Ariadne, Minos' daughter. Ariadne fell in love with him and helped him, giving him a ball of wool, to escape from the labyrinth and to survive. Theseus found the exit, kidnapped Ariadne and left Crete. .
But on the island of Naxos he abandoned Ariadne who in her loneliness discovered the God Dionisos who in his turn fell in love with the girl and took her to Lemnos. In Lemnos Ariadne and Dionisos had four sons, Thoantas, Oinopionas, Staphylos and Peparithos. Peparithos was the first to settle on the island of Skopelos. Until today his name survives in this place full of olive trees and pine forests.
At the end of Staphylos bay there is a peninsular. At the tip of this peninsular the tomb of King Staphylos was discovered containing his sword and many other artifacts, representing some of the most important finds of workmanship from the Mycenian and Minoan period. The sword handle is covered in gold, a precious sword for a precious king Staphylos. .
The sabre of Staphylos with the handle, 32 cm long, was found in a pit like tomb, together with other Cretan-Mycenian findings by the archeologist N.Platonas during excavations in 1936. The tomb was attributed to the mythical hero Staphylos. Probably the most convincing proof for the tombs identity is the name of the region, which for thousands of years has remained the same. The sword is kept on display in the Archeological Museum of Athens .
During the 2nd world war first the Italians and later the Germans came. Then followed freedom, the civil war, poverty, emigration and from 1980 onwards the tourist development.
This brought other activities, which urged many young people to remain on the island and many others to return from the urban centers and abroad, especially during the summer months.
Even in contemporary years Skopelos has maintained it's unique cultural foundation: The legends and rich traditions, likewise the historic and artistic monuments, the castles and monasteries, ancient churches, the famous altar screens, all the work of highly skilled and dedicated local artists..
Let us explore the island and experience it's past in order to understand the present and future of this unique place.
Skopelos was a Bishopric, a fact that highlights the island's prosperity and spirituality. According to the legend of St. Riginos, (the patron saint of Skopelos), who slayed the dragon which was terrorizing and killing people on the island. He chased it to the area between Staphylos and Agnontas. There, at that spot the mountain broke apart and the dragon fell and was killed in the abyss - that site is today called "Dragons Schism".
The people of Skopelos have maintained their traditional shipbuilding skills, as well as woodcarving and producing beautifully decorated pottery. In earlier times shipyards were in operation in Skopelos and, during the revolution the island provided 35 trade ships to assist in the fighting. They were occupied, too, with the art of weaving and famous for the traditional Skopelitian garments.
The Knifes of Skopelos are also unique, as, one line folk verses are carved into their handles.