Skyros, The virgin jewel of the Aegean Sea.
Skyros is the largest island in the cluster of Sporades. A large majority of tourists visiting the island every year, claim that it’s a Greek paradise on earth. The visitor, upon his arrival, can reach with his eyes the natural beauty and the rare simplicity of this unique landscape. Like most of the Greek islands, in Skyros, people enjoy the warm sun and the extraordinary beaches. However, these are not the only reasons that make Skyros unique.
Half of the island is dry and arid, while the other half is green. The settlements are not many compared to its size. The biggest of all is called “Chora”, which means center. In Chora lives almost the 80% of the inhabitants. Picturesque and majestic, Skyros bewitches everyone with its splendid scenery. At the cobblestone streets of Chora, there are plenty of old stores and small white houses with the all-time classic, Greek island style. Taverns, restaurants, gift shops, and coffee bars offer unforgettable moments to the visitors. Skyros is ideal for those who prefer to spend their vacation in a quite and a peaceful place. Away from the massive tourism, Skyros is offering calmness and refreshment.
Typical food like the “Skyrian fava”, the cheese pie, the sour cheese called “ksinotiri” , the rooster or the lobster with pasta, are some of the gastronomic delicacies one should definitely taste. The island is also producing thyme honey of exquisite quality and during the festivals the locals usually give pancakes with honey and cinnamon or candies with quince flavor.
Some of the local traditions of Skyros remaining alive through the centuries are really worth to be mentioned. In the archaeological museum the visitor can admire the ceramic collection of the 2800 B.C, jewelries, old stone-made objects and Greek statues. On the other side the folkloric museum has a variety of modern ceramic utensils, wood carvings, embroideries, traditional attires and the unique footwear called "trochadia". Quite interesting is also the church on the top of the “Chora” Saint Georgios, which is the protector of the island, the stone theatre “Faltaits”, and the ancient archaeological settlement called “Palamari”.
The traditional Carnival of Skyros attracts thousands of visitors. The “Yeros”, stands for the old man wearing a black cloak and the “Korela”, is the girl who dances around this man. These are the two figures that appear during the three weeks of the Greek Carnival. On “Ash Monday”, everybody wears local traditional costumes in the central square, where people sing and dance all day long. One of the greatest attractions of the island is the rare horse species called “Pony”, that is unfortunately suffering from extinction. If you are lucky you can admire some of them in the rocky, southern part of Skyros. For those who adore hiking and climbing this part of the island and especially the protected “Natura” region of the mountain “Kochylas” is ideal. There you can meet rare species of reptiles and birds.
In Skyros you will meet friendly and warm people. With the locals’ hospitality it feels like being home, since they were raised with these principles and values. Whether you are a tourists or not, you will feel like being part a big family, especially during the winter, where the social gatherings are an everyday phenomenon.
Text by Maria Tsoli