Skopelos Sightseeing

Churches and Monasteries:
Skopelos has 360 churches in total, which is very impressive taking into account the size of the island. At Hora alone, there are 123 churches! Visitors will find churches everywhere when walking around the city of Skopelos; however, Saint Athanasios near the castle, Saint Nicholas and Saint Apostles at Vrahos, Saint Demetrios and Saint George “tis Kyratsos” at Christos, the temple of Virgin Mary at Pyrgos, Panagia Faneromeni, which was initially used as a monastery, and Saint Michael “Synadon” close to the beach are definitely worth a visit. Among the most impressive churches is the temple of Evangelismos, built on a rocky cliff above the sea. 

Outside Skopelos Town (Hora), travelers should visit the following monasteries: 

The Monastery of Episkopi, about 2 km. to the west of Hora, which was partly built in the Venetian Period, and more specifically in 1078. The monastery is surrounded by walls made of stone, which have to a large extend the shape of castle walls and have carved shapes of animals.  

The Monastery of Evangelistria Daponte, founded by monks from Athos (Agio Oros), which has a wonderful view and houses Orthodox images and a golden plated piece of furniture made in Constantinople for placing the Images. 

The Monastery of Saint Riginos, who is the protector of Skopelos, about 4 km. to the southwest. This is a Byzantine building surrounded by a large yard which houses the grave of Saint Riginos who died in 362 a.C. The main church was built in 1728, but it replaced an older church of the 5th century. Behind the church, there are the ruins of a temple of Dorian style.  

The Monastery of Saint Ioannis Prodromos, at Kastri, close to Glossa. This monastery was built in the 18th century and lies on the top of a rocky cliff at 100 m. of altitude. In order to get there, visitors must walk up 200 stairs. It is said that a fisherman from Glossa saw every night, on his way back to the port, a light at the top of the cliff. On night, a woman appeared in his sleep and told him that there was an Image at this specific spot. The fisherman climbed up the cliff and found an Orthodox Image of Saint Ioannis Prodromos. No matter where he carried it, the Orthodox Image was miraculously transferred back to the initial spot. Eventually, this little church was built and is now inhabited by nuns. 

The Monastery of Metamorphosis, which was built in the 18th century at a beautiful location surrounded by pines. The monastery houses a laboratory of textiles and crafts.

The Monastery of Saint Barbara, built on a cliff close to the monasteries of Metamorphosis and Saint Ioannis Prodromos. This monastery is no longer inhabited, but its wonderful walls made of stone and its unique 15th century murals are worth a visit. 

The Monastery of Panagia Livadiotisa, which is located in the area of Ambeliki, about 2 km. from Hora. The monastery was built in the 18th century and houses an interesting collection of Orthodox Images.  

Museums and Galleries
Museum of Folk Art 
It is located at the center of Hora and it hosts important objects from the everyday life of the last two centuries. Among them local clothes, photographs, embroideries, knives and miniatures of wooden ships. The building itself has a long story, since it was built in 1765, and, until the big earthquakes in 1965, it remained in its initial condition. After the earthquakes, the building was renovated based on its initial design. Entrance to the museum is free for children below 12 years old, while for the rest, the ticket costs 3 Euros.

Museum of History 
It is housed in the house of the Greek writer Pavlos Nirvanas (whose real name was Petros Apostolides), built in the first half of the 19th century. What is really interesting in this museum is that the whole history of Skopelos is not presented in the linear, usual way, but in a thematic approach. Every period is subdivided in three sections: social organization, economy and culture. Again the building has a historical significance, not only because the writer P. Nirvanas lived in it, but also due to the fact that it is a wonderful token of local architecture of houses of the “Macedonian Type” (different from the “Agricultural Type” of houses). 

Museum of Cultural Inheritance 
The museum, found at Glossa, was inaugurated on October 28, 2007, and also houses a library called “Perseus Athenian Library”. Visitors can admire the wonderful building of traditional architecture (built in 1926 and renovated in 2007), and various artistic objects and objects of the everyday life on the island. 

Center of Photography 
It was founded in 1995 and organizes exhibitions and various events, whereas it also hosts a dark room with 7 workspaces. 

Skopelos’ Foundation for the Arts (SkopArt) 
The foundation was established in 1999 by Gloria Carr, an American artist who decided to set up this foundation as soon as she visited Skopelos. SkopArt’s mission is to promote visual, performing and literary arts, but in 2000 ceramics and screen printing were also added in the foundation’s activities. The Foundation offers workshops from June through September and residencies for artists from March through May and August through December.  So far, SkopArt has hosted artists from many parts of the world including, Australia, Canada, Bulgaria, England, France, Greece, Holland, Hungary, India, Japan, Korea, Poland, Puerto Rico, Romania, Russia, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand and the United States. SkopArt organizes many interesting events and plays an important role in the island’s artistic education.

Vakratsas Residence 
The residence is found in Hora and it is an old house of traditional architecture of the 18th century that is now used as a museum and a hosting venue for various events. Exhibits include traditional costumes, furniture, artistic objects and objects of the everyday life. Most events hosted at the Vakratsas Residence are hosted in its beautiful yard during the summer.  

Skopelos is famous for its amazing traditional architecture, evident from the moment visitors approach the island’s port. 

Skopelos Town
Hora, or Skopelos, which is the island’s capital, is built amphitheatrically, with white houses climbing up three hills, around a bay. The old city is considered a monument of architecture and all new houses have to be built according to certain rules. Among the beautiful architectural elements of Hora are the hanging wooden balconies, traditional stone roofs, white walls and colorful flowers. Hora has 123 churches, a castle, picturesque paths and stairs, squares with a marvelous view, and of course shops and a vibrant nightlife. 

Glossa is among the most picturesque settings in Sporades Islands, due to its narrow streets and paths, and its traditional houses of Macedonian type (houses with two floors, hanging wooden balconies and tile roofs). This mountainous village, at 300 m. of altitude and at about 23 km. from Hora, offers a marvelous view and has not been affected by the modern way of life. Around its narrow streets, visitors may find women wearing the traditional outfits of Skopelos called “foustanes”. The inhabitants of Glossa even have a local idiomatic language. Therefore, visiting this village is like taking a journey in time.

This is a historic village in Skopelos surrounded by pine forests, which used to be divided into Pano and Kato Klima (“upper” and “lower” vineyard). The inhabitants of Klima were famous for dancing, singing and organizing traditional fests at the village’s main square. With the earthquakes in the middle of the 19th century, inhabitants left Kato Klima and were mainly transferred to another village nearby, Elios or Neo Klima. At Klima, visitors can admire the old and abandoned oil press, which stopped operating in 1967. Similar oil press facilities used to be spread throughout the island, but they no longer exist. This village, located at about 16 km. from Hora, has only 50 inhabitants today. 

Elios/Neo Klima 
This is a rather young village by the sea, created mainly after 1965, at the foot of the mountain Delphi. At about 18 km. from Hora and 2 km. from Klima, this is a highly touristic area, offering accommodation, taverns and cafeterias. Elios also has a small port and gorgeous beaches right next to it, like Karkatzouna and Hovolo. This is a good alternative for visitors who choose not to stay in Hora. 

Loutraki is the second largest port of Skopelos, at about 25 km from Hora. Right at the entrance of the port there are four little islands covered with pine trees: Dassia, Glaronissi, Paximadi and Stroggylo, which protect it from the winds and create and amazing scenery. At the western part of Loutraki there are the ruins of the ancient acropolis of Selinounda (4th century B.C.). Loutraki is a picturesque fishing village that offers everything: archaeological sites, accommodation, an organized marina and various shops. 

This is a beautiful coastal village with a wonderful beach, at about 18 km. from Hora. Visitors can admire the wonderful view on the natural port of Blo and enjoy their swim at the deep waters of Panormos beach. Moreover, boats starting from Panormos take visitors to the little island of Dassia nearby. The walls of an ancient acropolis are visible and in a good condition and there is also the Cave of Pan. Finally, Panormos has hotels and taverns, whereas its beach is among the few beaches in Skopelos offering watersports.

A little village by the sea, at about 8 km. from Hora, Agnontas  is used as an alternative port when the winds are very strong. The area was named after the athlete Agnondas, who won the race at the Olympic Games of 596 B.C. and got off the boat at this bay when he returned to the island. The natural beauty of the wider area is undeniable and the forest around Agnondas is protected by international law. Here travelers can choose between different accommodation types and enjoy delicious fresh fish and seafood.  

Archaeological Sites and things not to be missed
On the southwest part of Skopelos, on the “Palaiokastro” hill, there is Selinounda, which used to be an organized inhabited region during the Ancient and the Roman years. The area is close to Glossa and there are ruins of Roman baths at Loutraki (“Loutra” is the Greek word for baths). Selinounda was inhabited from the 8th century B.C. to the 4th century A.D. and was very prosperous during the Roman years. It is mentioned in Ancient texts that it was founded by inhabitants of Halkida, and had an aqueduct, an organized commercial center, temples, streets with roofs specifically created for walking, statues and manufacturing premises. Selinounda findings include sarcophaguses (that must have been imported from Asia Minor), signs and sculptures.  Visitors can admire part of the fortress at Palaiokastro and the Roman baths at Loutraki, as well as the ruins of an ancient temple dedicated to goddess Athena (5th century b.C.).
It is also worth mentioning that ruins of other temples dedicated to goddess Athena have been found around the island, like in Hora near the castle, or at the position “Vrahos” where the Church of Saint Apostles has been built, which are no longer visible. The ruins of another temple dedicated to Athena are visible at the position Pefkias on the mountain (about 5 km. from Hora). 

Stafylos Area
It is the location where king Stafylos built his palace. Ruins of the Minoan style palace were discovered in the 20th century next to the beach, as well as the royal grave, typical sample of the Mycenaean tombs, with important findings like a golden crown, a sword with a golden handhold, golden jewels and ancient pots. All these items are exhibited either in the Archaeological Museum of Athens or of Volos. At Stafylos were also discovered ruins of amphora laboratories.

At the southern part of Skopelos’ bay called Ambeliki, is an ancient temple dedicated to the god/father of medicine, Asclepius. The temple was first discovered in 1961, when archaeologists found ruins of a gallery and its walls. Unfortunately, part of these walls was destroyed by the sea. More excavations later on revealed ceramic pots, a shell with the letters ASCL on it, a head of a female statue, the body of a male statue, and a column with a sculpted representation of human shapes. Archaeologists believe that the same temple was also partly dedicated to Artemis and Apollo.

Palaiokastro & Pan’s Cave
Palaiokastro and the Cave of Pan are two archaeological sites in the area of Panormos. Apart from the ruins of an ancient laboratory of amphoras (similar ruins were also found at Stafylos and Agnondas), Panormos also had an acropolis called Palaiokastro with impressive walls, saved today at a very good condition. A path starting from the acropolis leads to the Cave of Pan, where this ambiguous god was worshiped that symbolized the power of birth and nature. Pan was the protector of farmers and was mainly worshiped in natural caves all over Greece.

On the mountain Delphi, there are four famous carved graves called Sendoukia, as they have lids and close like coffers (“sendouki” is the Greek word for coffer). Sendoukia are considered to have been the graves of pirates or kings and they date back to the post-Roman period. Visitors should be prepared that a lot of walking is required in order to arrive at this archaeological site and there are red marks on the stones of the path that indicate the itinerary; however, the site itself and the marvelous view will compensate them.

Venetian Castle
The Venetian Castle at Hora is built on the ancient ruins of the city of Peparithos. It was built on this hill during the domination of the Ghisi family, during the 13th century A.D., and it is visible from everywhere in the city of Skopelos. The castle has an authentic medieval atmosphere and offers a magnificent view. 
Gourouni Lighthouse
The Gourouni Lighthouse, on the northern part of Skopelos, is one of the oldest lighthouses in Greece, built in 1889. During the Ottoman occupation, the lighthouse was always off. Since 1989 it operated with electric power, whereas from 1928 to 1989 oil was used. The lighthouse consists of the house and the stone tower on top of which there is the light. Today, a guardian lives at the lighthouse and makes sure it works properly. Visitors should be aware that there are many snakes around the lighthouse; therefore they should be very careful when approaching it.

Sea Park of Northern Sporades
It is one of the two Sea Parks in Greece (the other being in Zakynthos) and it houses 170 species of fish, 70 species of amphipodous and 40 species of sponges. The sea park consists of the area between the southeastern Skopelos and Alonnisos, 94% of which is sea surface. The remaining 6% is composed of little inhabited islands, with great ecological significance and unrivaled beauty. This is the largest protected sea area in Europe! Visitors can admire the beauty of nature, untouched by the human hand, and the world’s largest population of Monachus Monachus (about 400-500 seals). According to scientists, 2/3 of the total Monachus Monachus seals, which are considered as the most endangered species among all mammals on earth, live in the Greek seas.
In conclusion, boredom is something unknown to travelers that will visit Skopelos; this island is blessed in so many ways that it can attract all kinds of travelers, ranging from nature lovers to religious tourists or cosmopolitan travelers.

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