Greek Guide

 

Skyros Tourist Attractions Day Trips Greece Greek Travel Guide

Skyros is one of the most interesting islands in the Aegean and as long as you're not hell bent on a beach and bar style package holiday you'll find plenty to see and do on this highly individual island where age old traditions are doggedly preserved.

The island tends to attract "alternative" types many of whom book a two week holiday at the pioneering Skyros Centre which offers courses in just about everything from music and massage to Tai Chi and tango dancing. You can knock up a ceramic plate, learn to windsurf or simply submerge yourself in self awareness. A huge range of workshops are on offer at the centre's two bases in Skyros Town and Atsitsa on the west coast.

Skyros Town is a fascinating place to visit with its cobbled lanes snaking uphill past fine old mansion houses to the ancient fortress and monastery which tower over the town. As you make your way through the old town towards the kastro, try to sneak a peek inside one of the traditional houses because they're liking living museums adorned with gleaming copper pots, carved wood furniture and elaborately decorated ceramic and embroideries. The islanders take fierce pride in their homes and furnishings so don't be surprised if you're invited in to take a closer look. Skyros is famous throughout Greece for its unique style of home décor which originates from the days when the islanders acquired various prized items from marauding pirates in exchange for food. Local artisans began to produce copies of beautiful ceramics, carvings and embroidered fabrics brought to the island from far flung places, so establishing the tradition of embellishing local houses with fine furnishings. You'll find several shops in town selling pottery, carved furniture and other goods made locally by highly skilled craftsmen.

As you walk the back streets of the capital, where 90% of the island's 3,000 strong population lives, you might see some of the older men wearing the traditional island costume of cap, vest, baggy trousers, leggings and the thonged Skyrian sandals known as trohadia. A few of the old women still wear the traditional long embroidered skirt and yellow headscarf.

If you can't wangle an invitation into a local house visit the Faltaits Museum, near Plateia Rupert Brooke, for a fascinating insight into traditional island life. The museum houses a diverse collection of folk art, rare books, costumes, embroideries and various domestic items from a bygone age. The nearby Archaeological Museum has jewellery, pottery and other finds unearthed at Neolithic and Mycenaean sites around the island along with a room fitted out as a traditional Skyrian house.

To enjoy the spectacular views from the ruined castle you must pass through a tunnel beneath the 10th Moni Agiou Georgiou (Monastery of St George). The monastery contains a painting of St George slaying the dragon and also houses an ornate iconostasis (the screen separating the altar from the main part of the church).

For guided walking tours of the island, contact Niko Sikkes who lectures on island life at the Faltaits Museum and runs the Argo shop near Plateia Rupert Brooke. Fans of Brooke, the English poet who died on a hospital ship anchored off Skyros in 1915, will want to visit his grave in the south of the island. Brooke was en route to join the ill fated Dardanelles campaign when he contracted blood poisoning.