Olympic Holidays

Monasteries of Skopelos

Walking to monasteries is one of the more popular pursuits on Skopelos, the other is just walking. Fortunately there are no end of churches and monasteries to visit. In Skopelos town itself there are around 120.
The best for sightseeing are at Zoodochos Pigi, which has an icon attributed to St Luke, and at Chrisso, with its splendid gilded interior. Also worth a visit is the 18th century church of Panagia Eleftherotria, with a fountain beneath a plane tree and a slate roof dotted with brightly painted ceramics.
Close by is the Episkopi, a fortified Venetian monastery, left incomplete by the Ottoman invasion. There are also a clutch of monasteries on Mt Palouki above Skopelos town.
The route is long and up a winding track that seems to last forever but walkers are rewarded with great views and tourist firms will offer excursions to Episkopi in the high summer season.
Evangelistria clings to the rocks and enjoys the most magnificent views over Skopelos Town bay. It was founded by monks from Mount Athos in the 18th century but its impressive gold alter screen is from Istanbul and dates from the 14th century. It is now occupied by nuns.
More masochistic walkers can attempt the climb to the 16th century Metamorphosis, which stands aloft in a clutch of pines. It was been empty for around 20 years but is undergoing a revamp with just one monk in residence now. It has a small chapel set in a flower strewn courtyard and hosts one of the island's biggest festivals on August 6.Prodoromus can be seen from Metamorphosis just over the next hill. Built in the 18th century it is dedicated to St John the Baptist and inhabited by nuns. Ag. Varvara is a fortified monastery, now unfortunately abandoned, but noted for its 15th century frescoes.
The trio of Evangelistria, Prodromos and Metamorphosis are all are worth a look, even if only from the outside and all boast superb views over the sea. The mountain has a protection order on it and hunting is outlawed so expect to find nature unspoilt, with abundant flora and fauna to enjoy. Keen walkers can visit all three by following well worn mule trails.

Agios Ioannis Chapel

This picture postcard chapel needs little introduction having featured in the hit movie Mama Mia and rated one of the top sights on Skopelos. It's located in the remote region of Kastri on the north coast about 7 km east of Glossa.
Agios Ioannis is an impressive sight on top of the 100m high rock with amazing view along the coast of Skopelos and over the sea to neighbouring Alonissos.
Its origins are something of an island mystery. Some say locals saw a glow up there and carved 105 steps up to find an icon of Agios Ioannis. Every time they took the icon away it miraculously made its own way back so they eventually built a chapel to house it. The interior has several icons and old ecclesiastical bits and pieces.
There is a small beach nearby that can get quite crowded in summer.

The tombs of Sendoukia

This is one of the more mysterious sights of Skopelos and one of the most difficult to find. The tombs of Sendoukia are located on highest peak of Skopelos at Mount Delphi. You can walk up but you need to be a very strong hiker to get there.
Most take transport through the pretty hamlet of Karia and follow the signs to Delphi. The road runs out eventually and it's a 20 minute climb up the mountain track through pine woods to the top.
Here a path is waymarked with red spots to Sendoukia where several tombs appear to have been carved out of solid rock. Massive stone covers lie askew near each of the hollowed out tombs.
Various theories are held on whose tombs they were, from pirates to Romans but the panoramic spot and the difficulty of carving out the sold rock suggest they were people of some importance.
Needless to say but there are panoramic vistas over the whole island with Alonissos clearly seen and, on clearest days they say you can even see coast of Halkidiki.

Skopelos Museum of Folk Art

The Skopelos Museum of Folk Art is housed in a beautiful 18th century mansion house in the centre of Skopelos Town. The displays document the paraphernalia of everyday life in a traditional Skopelos house with furniture and utensils from all over the island.
Most notable is a Skopelos wedding room complete with a bridal bed and beautiful hand-stitched and embroidered traditional wedding costumes. It also has a great collection of black-and-white photographs of the waterfront - how different it is today.
As well as embroidery there are examples of weaving and other handicrafts, some striking ceramics and various woodcarving as well as folk art. To cap it all in such a small house are some impressive nautical exhibits including fascinating models of sailing ships, making this a Skopelos sight not to miss.

Venetian fortress of Skopelos

The ruins of this 13th century Venetian fortress are visible from all over Skopelos Town and there is a pleasant walk up steps from the chapel of Panayitsa tou Pyrgou at the end of the harbour.
The climb is probably more interesting than the castle with a maze of narrow, whitewashed alleys at almost every turn and panoramic views over the harbour and bay. If you get lost just head upwards and you will find the castle and a welcome taverna.
The ruined fortress was first built in 340 BC by Philip of Macedonia and underwent lots of rebuilding, in particular by the Ghisi family in the 13th century. Unfortunately all that's left now are a few broken walls and inside the church of Agios Athanisos. Oh, and the quite spectacular sights over the bay below.