History of Skopelos Island

The island of Skopelos was probably inhabited during the Neolithic Period. The ancient name of the island was Peparithos and is mentioned by the pre-Greek from Mikra Asia who settled in the Aegean during the period (2800 - 2000 BC). This name is also mentioned by Thucydides. Around 1600 BC. The island was inhabited by Cretans led by the Mythical King Stafylos son of Theseus and Ariadne.


Theseus, son of the Aegean, king of Athens, as tradition reminds us, was sent with 7 young boys and 7 young girls, to the king of Crete Minos, as a sacrifice to the Minotaur (a strange creation of nature, half man, half monster) who lived in the labyrinth of the palace in Knossos, Crete. In Crete, Theseus meets Ariadne, daughter of Minos.


Ariadne falls in love with him and helps him, giving him a skein of wool, to leave the labyrinth and be saved. Indeed, Theseus finds the way out, kidnaps Ariadne and leaves Crete. On the island of Naxos, however, he leaves Ariadne, who met God Dionysus. Dionysus in turn falls in love with Ariadne and transports her to Lemnos. In Lemnos, Ariadne and Dionysus will have four sons, Thoantas, Inopion, Stafylos and Peparithos.


Peparithos was the first to live on the island of Skopelos. Since then, its name survives in this place full of olive trees and dense forests. At the edge of Stafylos bay there is a peninsula. At the edge of the peninsula has been discovered the tomb of King Stafilos and his sword which is considered one of the most important works of art in the Mycenaean and Minoan period. Its handle is covered in gold, a precious sword of a valuable king, such as King Staphylos.


The sword of Stafilos with the handle, 32 cm long, was found in a pit tomb along with other Cretaceous-Mycenaean findings by the archaeologist N. Plato in an excavation in 1936. The tomb was attributed to the mythical hero Stafilos. Probably the most convincing indication of the identity of the tomb is the name of the area that has remained the same for years. The sword is kept in the Archaeological Museum of Athens.


Skopelos participated in all the wars, and was a colony of Athens. The government of the island was Democratic. The island also participated in the Greek Sports Games. In fact, Agnontas, an Athlete of Peparithos in 569 BC had won the road races and in his honor, the present bay of Agnontas was named after him. Even in the oracle of Delphi, the inhabitants of Peparithos had dedicated a statue of God Apollo because they had defeated the Carians in a battle.


Peparithos also had important ancient cities such as Knossos, Panormos and Selinous. Today, a large part of the castle in Panormos survives. Knossos was renamed Glossa. Selinous was renamed as Loutraki, where there are some remains of an Ancient Castle and an ancient settlement. In Skopelos is called "armaka" the gathering of many and large stones in the same place. The whole island is full of such "stones" that wait for scientists to discover their secrets. In the 13th century BC. the island was conquered by King Ilkon of Pella.


The island of Skopelos remained stagnant for quite some time until the 6th century BC. when the export of wine and olive oil began, which brought back prosperity and progress. Aristotle refers to the famous Peparithian wine as a famous and aphrodisiac wine. In Classical times, the Peparithians were allies with the Athenians, but after the battle of Chaeronia in 338 BC. the island passed into the hands of the Macedonians until 146 BC. when the Romans conquered Greece. The name Skopelos first appeared in the texts of Ptolemy who wrote in the 2nd century AD. and probably is due to the many reefs and obstacles (Skopelos) that protrude around the island.


During the Roman and Byzantine periods the island was in decline. It was used as part of exile by the Byzantines. After the Conquest of Constantinople by the Franks, the island was united with the Duchy of Naxos and then passed to the government of Gyzi during the years of Emperor Michael Palaiologos and was occupied until 1453 AD. when the inhabitants offered their island to the Venetians in order to avoid the Turkish occupation. In 1538 AD the Algerian pirate Barbarossa came to the island and slaughtered the inhabitants.


Around 1600 AD. those who had been saved and had taken refuge in Evia and Thessaly returned to the island. Then the Turkish occupation began. The inhabitants were self-governed and simply obliged to pay their taxes and cede 30 sailors to serve one year in the Turkish Navy. No who had a Turkish nationality had ever settled on the island. Since 1750 AD the first “Klephts and armatoloi” began to come on the island from Olympus, Halkidiki and Thessaly. During the Revolution of 1821 the captains of Skopelos helped their brothers whenever their help was needed. When the revolution failed in Thessaly and Macedonia, 70,000 men, women and children, settled again on the island exhausted by epidemics and poverty.


During World War II, first came the Italians and then the Germans. Then freedom, civil war, poverty, immigration have followed and since 1980 with tourism development and other activities young people have been motivated to stay on the island and many others to return from urban centers and abroad, especially in the summer. months. Even in modern times Skopelos presents a wonderful culture: Legends and rich tradition, as well as historical and artistic monuments, castles and monasteries, churches, all this consists the work of local artists. Let’s discover the island and feel its past in order to understand better the present and the future of this place: Skopelos is full of prosperity and spirituality.


According to tradition, Agios Riginos, the patron Saint of the island, chased and killed the Dragon (who used to kill whoever would come to the island) in the area between Stafylos and Agnontas. The place where the mountain parted and the ground receded, so that the Dragon fell off the cliff and died, is called Drakontoschisma. The inhabitants of Skopelos are used to occupying with ship construction, wood processing, as well as ceramics. There used to be shipyards in Skopelos and during the Greek Revolution, the island offered 35 merchant ships for the battle. The inhabitants of Skopelos are also involved in the textile art and Skopelos traditional costumes are famous. Skopelos knives are also very well known and folk verse tales are engraved on their handles. In Greek history it is amazing that myths and reality become one in a unique way.