Skiathos (Greek: Σκιάθος), Latin forms: Sciathos and Sciathus is a city and a small island in the Aegean Sea belonging to Greece. It is next to Skopelos, it also consists of 2 main towns (Skiathos Town and Koukanaries) and the settlements being Kanapitsa and Troullos, and has one nudist beach at south end of the island (Banana beach). Skiathos is the westernmost island in the Sporades but not the Aegean. The mainland Greece along with Magnesia is to the west. The name of the island dates back to ancient times.
Skiathos has a school, a lyceum, a gymnasium, a church located on a hilltop to the northwest, banks, a post office, a beach and a square (plateia). It is also has a port which small boats are founded and ferry services to Skopelos and Volos in Magnesia with the rest of Greece. It is aligned within the city.
Much of the island are forested. The area around the villages and Skiathos are deforested and has farms. The forests include pine trees. It is located in the southeastern part of the island. The island of Skopelos can be seen and on clearer days, Euboea and Scyros. The mountaintop which includes a communications tower is to the west. The slope of the hill is to the north and contain several valleys. The residential area stretches as far back as within the small hilltop.
The island is linked to mainland Greece with sea routes from Thessaloniki, Volos and Agios Konstantinos and also to the rest of the Sporades (all by hydrofoil, Hellanic seaways). This costs roughly €12 a person return to Skopelos and €15 return to Alonissos (car Ferries are also available but not as regular out of holiday season). There also exists an airport at the northeast of the island. The airport has on of the shortest runways in Europe measuring only 3/4 of a mile (1570m) which means that aircraft landings can be a little hair-raising. Subsequent take-offs result in a short flight before landing at another airfield (primarily nearby Volos, Kavala, Thessaloniki) to refuel as most aircraft are unable to take off with the required amount of fuel for its flight from the short runway. However, in the early and late on in the holiday season it is possible to make it all the way back to the United kingdom on most aircraft due to lighter passenger loads. If you are lucky enough to travel on a 757-200(the largest aircraft type to visit the island, operated by XL Airways, First Choice, Astraeus, Blue Panorama and Air Italy (info from the Summer 2006)) you will unlikely need to refuel which means you will save upto an hour on the journey home. There is airline connection (Olympic approx 45 mins) to Athens throughout the year.
The roads are to the south and to the east and to the northwest. There are no gravel roads to the central and the northern part. There is only one major road and is linked with all of the four settlements on the island. The one linking to the northwest are not used and has the view of the eastern part of Magnesia.
There is frequent bus connection from Koukounaries to Skiathos town with buses stopping approximately every 20 minutes, costing €1.40 to travel from one end of the island to the other. Taxis are also very cheap, although their driving leaves a little to be desired.
In Ancient times, the island played a minor role during the Persian Wars. In 480 BC, the fleet of the Persian king Xerxes was hit by a storm and was badly damaged on the rocks of Skiathos' coast. Following this the Greek fleet was beaten at Artemisium but finally managed to destroy the Persian fleet at the Battle of Salamis. Skiathos remained in the Delian League until it lost its independence. The city was destroyed by Phillip II of Macedon in 200 BC.
During the middle ages the island was repeatedly ravaged by pirate attacks. In 1207 the Gyzi brothers captured the island and buit the Bourtzi, a small venetian-styled fortress similar to the Bourtzi in Nafplio, on an islet just out of Skiathos town, to protect the capital from the pirates. But the Bourtzi was ineffective in protecting the population and in the middle 14th century the inhabitants moved the capital from the ancient site that lied were modern Skiathos town is, to Kastro (the greek word for castle), located on a high rock, overlooking a steep cliff to the sea at the northernmost part of the island. Kastro remained the only settlement of the island until the end of the greek war of independence, when the island's capital was relocated to the original site were it still remains.
Evangelistria Monastery (Source)
In 1704 monks from Athos built the Evangelistria monastery which played a part on the greek war of independence as a hideout for greek rebels.
During the 19th century Skiathos became an important shipbuilding center in the Aegean due to the abundance of pine forests on the island. The pine woods of the island were then almost obliterated. This was brought to a halt though, due to the emergence of steamboats. A small shipwright remains north of Skiathos town, that still builds traditional greek caiques.
In 1964 Skiathos was designated by the Greek National Tourism Organisation as a development zone for turism. The results of this decision have largely transformed the island since, due to turist oriented construction projects. These include the construction of the coast road from Skiathos town to Koukounaries, the construction of Skiathos airport in 1984 and the construction of the first large hotel over Koukounaries beach. Along the coast road many hotels have been constructed since the island became an important tourist destination.
There were have been protests in the early-2000s, one against mining in September 2002 as they were pushing away mining trucks which was owned by the municipality and another in 2004, a power line which would have connect hydro with the rest of the Sporades was also being protested due to the plan being in a forested area.
Division of the municipality of Skiathos