Historical points & History of the Sporades islands

Historical points & History of the Sporades islands

Historical points in the Sporades islands

Planning a trip to the islands of Sporades? If you are a history lover, check out these beautiful historical points to visit while exploring the islands.

Greece is a fantastic destination to discover ancient history through numerous beautiful and extraordinary archaeological sites. No matter where you choose to vacation in Greece, you will surely encounter the country’s rich history.

The Sporades islands are known as the jewels of the Aegean Sea. They rose to fame thanks to the Mamma Mia movies that featured their stunning and marvelous natural beauty. Their unique terrain and pristine blue waters are just a few things that made them so famous.

However, their natural beauty is only the tip of what will amaze you about Sporades islands. You will also be amazed by their history. After all, the Sporades have a significant historical role in Greece that you can experience while touring around the islands.

The islands were first inhabited in the Paleolithic era in Kokkinokastro in Alonnisos. Gradually, all the islands flourished economically with the arrival of the Minoans and then the Mycenaeans.

During the Byzantine years, they were used as an exile destination and suffered from pirate invasions. Throughout the years, they met the Venetian occupation and Turkish rule.

Let’s see some must-see historical points to visit:

Medieval Castle, Skiathos

Located on the northern side of Skiathos, the castle is accessible by boat or through a track path. It was part of a former Medieval town, built on a rocky cliff. In the area, there are remains of old structures such as churches, walls, baths, and many more.

Venetian Castle, Skopelos

Located in the main town, the Venetian Castle is built on the ancient ruins of the city of Peparithos during the 13th century A.D.

Monastery of Agia Varvara, Skopelos

The fortified monastery of Agia Varvara has beautiful frescoes dating from the 15th century. It is located close to the capital and near the monasteries of Prodromos and Metamorfosi.

Pirate Graves, Skopelos

It is believed that on Sendoukia at Mount Karia, there are the graves of pirates. In fact, on this spot, there are ancient graves carved on the rocks.

Castle, Alonissos

The castle is situated in the old village of Alonnisos and offers fantastic sea views. The beautiful church of St. George, dated from the 16th century, is also located there and can be visited.

Byzantine Castle, Skyros

The Byzantine Castle stands on a hill, and its purpose was to protect the island from enemies and pirates. Above the entrance, there is a marble lion engraved on the wall, and inside you’ll see the Monastery Tower of Agios Georgios.

Monastery of Agios Georgios, Skyros

The monastery of Agios Georgios is a beautifully preserved structure built in the 10th century. It stands beneath the castle, giving a breathtaking view of Chora.

Prehistoric Palamari, Skyros

The ancient site of Palamari is located in the northern part of Skyros. It is considered one of the most important Neolithic settlements of the Aegean Sea.


History of Sporades Islands


The Pelasgians are mentioned as the first mythical inhabitants of the island, but confirmed habitation is observed around 700 BC. when Chalkidian colonists settled in Skiathos, (Skiathos) establishing a settlement on the site that is the modern port city. In 480 BC Xerxes defeated the allied Greek triremes in a naval battle. In the same year the Persian king built a column of boulders on the reef of Myrmigx so that his ships could safely sail through the straits of Sepias. After the expulsion of the Persians, Skiathos joined the Athenian Alliance-Hegemony, to then fall into the hands of the Spartans (404 BC). the Athenian general Hambrios liberated the island in 378 while in 338 Skiathos fell into the hands of Philip of Macedonia. After the Macedonian conquest of Kynos Kefales (197 BC) the status of a “free” city was attributed to the island. In 146 BC joined, like the whole of Greece, the Roman “imperium”. Finally in 42 BC the emperor Antony donated Skiathos to the Athenians. This status applied to the island until the years of Hadrian (around 190-200 AD).

Peparithos (Skopelos)

The ancient name of the island is due to Peparithos who was the brother of the first settler Staphylos. Staphylos, according to the myth, was the son of Dionysus and Ariadne and colonized the island during the Minoan maritime rule (1600-1400 BC). The archaeological research on the island revealed buildings and a tomb with Minoan gifts, which partially confirms the legend, at least in the part concerning the metropolis (place of origin) of the colonists (Crete-Ariadne). Later, as legend has it, the king of Iolkos expelled the settlers and occupied the island for himself. So, in contrast to Skiathos, Peparithos shows us that it is somehow connected, even mythologically, to the history of mainland Thessaly. In the 7th century e.g. the Chalcidians also founded a colony here, which, however, is much more prosperous than the equivalent of Skiathos: silver coins of the 5th century, wine trade, relations with other islands, docking of ships traveling in the Aegean, etc. are just some of the signs of the island’s prosperity. In 478 BC joined the Athenian Alliance while in 427 it was hit by a strong earthquake. Then followed the history of Skiathos: occupation by the Spartans, by the Macedonians and finally by the Romans. In the 4th c. e.g. the city minted only copper coins (an example of economic decline) that represented on one side the head of Dionysus and on the other a bunch of grapes or a vase.

Ikos (Alonissos)

It got the name Alonissos after the establishment of the modern Greek state, while in ancient times it was called Ikos. The ancients called the smaller island Kyra-Panagia with the name Alonissos. In the Late Byzantine era, it was called Diadromi and, with a corruption of the word, Liadromia. On the island, D. Theocharis first discovered relics from the MN era (5000-4000 BC), while he then brought to light tools from the Middle Paleolithic Era (100,000-30,000 BC). Other Paleolithic finds found on a small island opposite Kokkinokastro confirm that the island, which was then an extension of the Pelion peninsula along with the rest of the Sporades, is the oldest inhabited place in the Aegean. Other Neolithic sites were located in Steni Vala, Glyfa, Garbitses and Milia. In historical times it seems that the Cretans founded a colony here as well with Staphylos of which no visible signs were found. On the contrary, Mycenaean finds were found in Kokkinokastro.

The mythical king of the island during the years of the Trojan War was Molinos. In the Geometric years, the island, like the neighboring Skyros, was inhabited by the Thessalian race of the Dolopi who had been expelled from mainland Thessaly. The Dolopes of Ikos were the most formidable pirates of Antiquity. They were finally defeated by the Athenian Kimonas who annexed the island together with the surrounding islets to the Athenian state. The geographer of the 5th century BC Skylax, he calls it “Dipolis” because apparently it had two cities. The history of the island in the classical era follows, more or less, the history of the two other islands of the Sporades. However, it is worth mentioning that in 340 BC the island was captured by the Peparithians who destroyed the Macedonian garrison. Philip, however, acting instantly, sent a fleet and destroyed Ico. The Romans occupied the island much earlier than the rest of Greece (199 BC), using it to supply the ships of the empire.