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About Skiathos island, Greece

Skiathos is a pretty big island almost in the center of the Aegean Sea, opposite to the coasts of Pelion and the island of Euboea. It is a lovely island, endowed by Nature with breathtaking beauty; an island with luxuriant green, lovely beaches and other natural sightseeing. The natural environment, the crystal clear sea, the monuments and the local architecture, along with the hospitable residents, attract many visitors, not only in summer but throughout the year. A wide network of facilities and high level infrastructure are at the disposal of the people visiting the island for a short or for a longer stay. The extent of Skiathos reaches the 50 square kilometers and its coastline is more than 45 kilometers long. The island counts some 6.500 permanent residents occupied mainly in tourism and to a lesser extent in agriculture and other jobs. Access to the island is possible by several means of transport, both marine and aerial ones.

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History of Skiathos

According to mythology, in prehistoric times the island was inhabited by the Pelasgians, the Careans and the Cretans. Several ancient written sources state that Dionysus, the god of wine, was worshipped as “Skianthios” on all the islands occupied by Cretans, a name that makes allusion to Skiathos. Later on, during the 8th and 7th century Ions from Chalkis came to settle on the island, on their way to colonize the peninsula of Chalkidiki. The town that the Ions had established was situated at the northeastern part of the port upon a low height and dominated the whole area and the bay with the double port. The town was fortified with a strong wall made of boulders, with two gates which assured connection with the rest of the island and with the port. This town kept settled until the medieval times, when the population moved to Kastro at the northern part of the island.

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The ancient historian Herodotus states that the residents of Skiathos, through a system of beacons had notified the fleet of the Greeks that the Persian fleet was sailing down towards southern Greece; it is also stated that the people of Skiathos was one of the few populations that did not fall in with the Persians. After the end of the Persian Wars they became allies of the Athenians and participated to the First Athenian Alliance set up in 478 b.C. The residents of Skiathos, governed by a democratic government in this period, contributed only a small amount to the Alliance, since the place was pretty poor. After the end of the Peloponnesian war and the defeat of the Athenians, Skiathos passed to the domination of the Spartans and the people was obliged to establish an oligarchic regime. After the Peace of Antalkidas , in 386 b . C ., Skiathos became autonomous, but soon the Spartans took possession of the island again. During the Second Athenian Alliance that was established in 378 b.C. Skiathos fell again in line with the Athenian democracy and the island served as a marine base for the Athenian fleet until 338 b.C., when it was conquered by the Macedonians.

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In the next period the island was involved in the conflicts of the Macedonians and, later on, of the Romans until the battle of Philippi, when Antonius, the victor of the battle, yielded it to the Athenians and the island returned to a democratic regime.

In the next centuries Skiathos fades out of the scene of history; no precise activities are known, apart from the information that a diocese was established on the island which belonged to the Metropolis of Larissa. During the Byzantine period Skiathos suffered a lot from the pirates’ raids. In 1204 the island was given to the Venetian brothers Ghizi, who constructed the new castle at Bourtzi. Later on the Byzantines took possession of the island anew and kept it until 1453, when the locals called the Venetians again, in order to have protection from the Ottoman attacks.
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The second period of the Venetian domination lasted until 1538, when the Ottomans took possession of the island. The Ottomans occupied the island in 1538, a fact that was confirmed with a peace treaty with the Venetians in 1540.

During this period of time Skiathos is under the government of a Voevoda (Ottoman official); the governor is aided by a number of notables who were elected by the local population. The island belonged to the Kapoudan Pasha, the admiral of the Ottoman fleet. At the beginning, the residents were subject to high taxes, as it is in that way that they could redeem the obligation of service to the Ottoman fleet. After the island was destroyed by Morozini in 1660, the Ottomans gradually decreased and the notables also redeemed the post of the Voevoda; thus the island became almost autonomous and the population had only the obligation to pay taxes to the Ottomans.
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Since the early 18th century the residents of Skiathos reactivated the ancient art of sailing and started to build up small ships and hold the trade with Thessaly and the neighbouring islands. Soon enough they expanded their activities to the Black Sea, the Eastern Mediterranean and Egypt. The locals took active part to the revolt led by the Russian admiral Orlof and that of Lambros Katsonis and they contributed both people and ships. An interesting and symbolic fact is that one of the versions of the Greek flag, that with the white cross on blue fond was for the first time raised at Skiathos, at the Monastery of Evangelismos (Annunciation) in 1807.

During the Greek National Revolution the locals resisted strongly to the attacks of the Ottoman fleet; as a result of this they remained free and autonomous from the very beginning and soon received a lot of refugees from Olympus, Pelion and Thessaly. More than 30.000 people arrived to the island in that period of time, which caused a lot of problems. In 1823 the residents of Skiathos achieved to repulse the extended attack of the Ottomans who tried, unsuccessfully, to take possession of the island once more. After Greece had obtained its independence, Skiathos was incorporated to it and ever since it followed the destiny of the new state.
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Shopping – Local Products

The visitors of the island will have the chance to buy various local agricultural products and sweets. You may buy olive oil and olives, tasty honey, gorgeous “amygdalota” and “aspro” (local sweets made with almonds).

At the Monastery of Evangelistria you will find wine, tsipouro (a local drink similar to ouzo), nice liquors and various sweets; you will also find honey, olive oil and olives, herbs and homemade pasta.

Local dishes and delicacies

You will enjoy fresh fish and sea food at the sea front taverns of the island. In the traditional taverns ask for the local cheese pie; it is certainly worth tasting! And, of course, don’t forget to finish your meal with a local sweet!

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