Best Attractions & Sights in Skyros
In addition to the beautiful beaches there are lots of things for you to do and see when visiting the island of Skyros. The island is packed with great sights and attractions as well as various activities that you can enjoy.
The two museums of Skyros are the Archaeological Museum and the Manos Faltaits Folklore Museum, both of which are located very close together in Chora. The museums offer a fascinating insight into the history, culture and traditions of the island are something that all visitors should try and see. You can read more about these on the Museums page.
Palamari Archaeological Site
Located 13km north-west of the capital town of Chora is the archaeological site of Palamari, an ancient site that is providing lots of historic information about Skyros. A fortified hamlet that dates to the Early and Middle Copper Period ( 2500 – 1800 B.C. ) was discovered. There was a port that used to connect the island with the eastern side of Mainland Greece, as well as the Cyclades and North Aegean islands.
Excavations that have taken place have unearthed a highly organised city plan with roads and buildings. In some of the houses that were excavated hearths, formatted floors and even ovens were discovered. An array of interesting artefacts were also found including tools made from stone and bone, as well as a number of vessels and metallic appliances. The ancient city here thrived due to the various metals that were once mined here and shipped off to different destinations.
At the Archaeological Museum in Chora is a section dedicated to the site of ancient Palamari with various findings, photographs and aerial maps where you can find out a lot more about this fascinating area.
Grave of Rupert Brooke
During the First World War, Rupert Brooke, who was a popular English poet famed for his idealistic War Sonnets, was stationed off Tris Boukes Bay, located to the south west of Skyros. Brooke, and the rest of the platoon arrived on the 17th April 1915, and they were waiting for clearance to head off to the island of Lemnos.
After falling ill 2 days earlier due to an inflammation on his lip caused by a mosquito bite, Brooke was moved to a neighbouring French medical ship on Thursay 22 April. He was actually the only patient on board as the ship was actually waiting to pick up injured personal from Gallipoli. On Friday 23rd April, Brooke's temperature rose and lost consciouness.
He died in the late afternoon. A little later in the evening, three fellow officers took a digging party to Skyros, and headed to an olive grove that Brooke and a few others had rested at a few days earlier. Brooke was buried just before midnight.
Due to the fact that Brooke's party were set to set sail the following morning at 6am, the ceremony that took place was very simple. A wooden cross, inscribed in Greek, was placed at his grave. The inscription on the cross stated ... "Here lies the servant of God, Sub-lieutenant in the English Navy, who died for the deliverance of Constantinople from the Turks".
The grave of Rupert Brooke is often visited by travellers to Skyros. The tomb that you will see here today is not the original grave. The current tomb was placed after the First World War and was commissioned by Brooke’s mother. The grave has an inscription of Brooke's most famous poem, "The Soldier", which he had written during the last months of 1914.
Reaching the grave of Rupert Brooke is fairly simple. The grave is located in the Tris Boukes Bay, which is on the south-west coast of the island. You will need to head south from the village of Kalamitsa, following the road that is a little rough at times. The road will rise at first as you pass over the mountains, but will then start descending. Heading towards the Tris Boukes Bay, you will find the grave on the left hand side in an olive grove.
One of the most popular corners of the town of Chora is that of Poetry Square, also known as Brooke’s Square. It is here that you will find the large bronze statue was that erected in his honour.
This statue was created by sculptor Michael Tompros and the square was founded in 1931. From here you can enjoy some of the best panoramic views over the beach and the resort of Magazia and village of Molos, stretching up to Pouria and then over the blue waters of the Aegean.
A little to the north of Molos is a very unique part of the island called Pouria. There you will see the remains of an old quarry and the very strange square rock structures that stand dominant next to the sea. There are a couple of landmarks in the area, such as the old mill that was restored and run as a cafe bar, and also the church of Agios Nikolaos.
A short distance from the shore are a small scattering of islands, known as Vrykolonisia, which translates as the “vampire islands”. On one of these islands is the small chapel of Agios Ermolaos.
The whole area here is totally different to other parts of the island and is an extremely peaceful place. It is a great spot to head to for an evening stroll, and the colours from the setting sun really illuminate the rocks here. A nice evening walk would be starting from the beach of Magazia and following it up to Molos and then Pouria.
Agios Nikolaos Church
This church in Pouria is one of the most unique on the island and is well worth a visit. The church is actually built in the inside of a large rock.
The large stones in the area had been used for many years to build houses in the area, and building a church inside one of them must have seemed like the logical thing to do. The church is pretty small inside and can only hold a few people, but it’s unique appearance make it a popular attraction with visitors to the island.
The Byzantine Castle
Located on the top of Chora is the impressive castle, which has stood here proudly overlooking the island since the Byzantine times. The castle was built to protect the island from pirate raids that frequently took place in islands all around the Aegean sea.
Unfortunately, the castle has not been as well preserved as others in Greece, but it is still an impressive site. There is a beautiful lion made from marble in the wall above the entrance to the castle. The views from here are incredible and provide you with some amazing panoramas over the island.
A temple that was dedicated to Kimisis Panagia Theotokou ( Sleep of Holy Mary - Mother of God ) was built on the top of the castle in 895 A.D. ( the Byzantine period ), and a church was then built in 960 A.D. in honour of Agios Georgios. The Byzantine emperors Nikiforos Fokas and Ioannis Tsimiskis helped with the financial side of things in the chapels construction.
Monastery of Agios Georgios
The Monastery of Agios Georgios ( Saint George ) was built on the castle on top of Chora, and originally belonged to the Orthodox Patriarchate of Constantinople. Since the middle ages, the monastery has belonged to the Megisti Lavra monastery of Mount Athos.
The monastery has undergone a number of renovations and during the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries. Up until 2001 this was a fully functioning monastery. However, a devastating earthquake occurred that year which caused a great deal of structural damage and the monastery was declared unsafe, and closed off for safety reasons.
In recent years part of the monastery has reopened and people can now once again visit this reopened lower section. When you step onto the balcony on the west side of the monastery you will see some wonderful scenery stretching across to the mountains.
This part of the monastery is open throughout the week and if you see the main doors are open, then you are more than welcome to pay a visit inside. The doors are opened by a monk who operates the small chapel next door to the monastery.
There are over 350 churches on the island of Skyros that date back to the Byzantine period, with the majority of these located around the monastery of Agios Georgios.
Georgos Lambrou Workshop
The nationally recognised artist Georgos Lambrou has a workshop situated in the coastal town of Magazia, just a short distance from Chora. Georgos Lambrou has had his works shown at the famous Benaki Museum in Athens as well as at other solo and group exhibitions in Greece and beyond. In the workshop you will be able to see a variety of sculptures and paintings by the artist.
He studied sculpture at the Athens School of Fine Arts (1965-1969) and his early works were made with wire constructions, maintaining contact with visual reality and characterized by austerity, stylisation and their interest in capturing the essential. This was followed by hime creating solid bronze figures without limbs nor individuality. You can read more about Georgos Lambrou by clicking here.
The coast of the southern section of Skyros is a truly beautiful setting, and you will find a number of impressive sea caves. There are boat trips that depart each day during the summer season from the port of Linaria that will take you on a lovely boat ride along the coast where you can see some of these amazing caves such as Pentekali and Diatrypiti, both of which are found on the east coast and which very impressive and beautiful.
The Pentekali sea cave is the smaller of the two and has two small entrances. The Diatrypita sea cave is the larger one with a single entrance. You can actually sail inside the Diatrypita cave if you are on a small enough boat. Otherwise, you will need to dive into the water to explore them both.
The famous horses of Skyros have lived on the island as far back as the ancient times, and their preservation has been highly successful. As they lived alone on the island they were not mixed with any other horses and their characteristics have remained virtually unchanged throughout the years.
They would usually reach a height of 90-110cm and though they do look very much like ponies, they are not related. Characteristics of the Skyros horses are the larger heads, nostrils and eyes with a strong neck and backbone.
Small sized horses such as the Skyrian ones were found all over Greece during the ancient years and there have been findings dating from the Palaeolithic and Mycenaean periods that have shown that these type of horses have lived throughout historical periods in Greece. Horses that were very similar to the Skyrian horse were actually depicted on the friezes on the Parthenon in Athens.
The horses would live in small groups that would stay around small lakes and trees, and would remain in the southern part of the island during the winter months. During the spring and summer months they would head to more populated parts of the island when the lakes would run dry. They were used by farmers for threshing and the farmers would always look after the animals, making sure they were well fed and taken care of after working.
Today the Skyrian horses are no longer used for work, and due to the high costs involved in feeding and breeding them, their numbers have sadly been in decline for many years. A number of moves have been put into place to help aid their preservation and allow them to remain living in their natural habitat.
Visitors to Skyros can see head to the Mouries Estate and see the horses as this is the centre for controlled reproduction of the horses. Additionally you can visit the Katsarelia – Simpson Farm to see these beautiful creatures with your own eyes. If you would like read more about the horses of Skyros, head over to one of the following websites ...
www.skyrosislandhorsetrust.com, www.skyrianhorsesociety.gr, www.skyrianhorses.org