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Sporades Islands | Skopelos

Skopelos History

Skopelos Main Harbor

Skopelos has an interesting history, alternating between greatness and tragedy.  The Minoans originally colonized it, and its ruler was the mythical king Stafylos (also spelled Staphylos), after whom the beautiful bay of Stafylos was named.  Recently, in the early 20th century, a tomb was unearthed near the bay containing a magnificent solid gold scepter and the gold hilt of a sword, leading archaeologists to believe that this was indeed the tomb of Stafylos.  His name, in Greek, means “grape,” which is appropriate if he was in fact the son of Dionysos, god of wine, as is alleged. 

Skopelos shares a similar history with other islands of both the Dodecanese and the Cyclades in that it was autonomous during the Hellenistic period, then occupied by the Romans, who gave the island its modern day name.  During the Byzantine period, Skopelos became an island of exile until the 1204 invasion and occupation by the Venetians.  After only a short period of occupation, the Venetians were replaced by Byzantium until the fall of Constantinople in 1453.  The Venetians returned and held the island until 1538, when true tragedy struck.  The ruthless pirate/Turkish admiral, “Red Beard” Barbarossa, invaded the island and murdered every human being, man, woman, and child!  Now totally devoid of inhabitants, the island remained so until some time during the 17th century, when it started to become re-populated by exiles from Turkish controlled Aegean regions and Asia Minor, which suffered under Turkish oppression.  It became a part of Greece in 1832.