Skopelos, the island’s capital (Chora)
Among the houses there are numerous small churches, which are maintained with particular respect by the Skopelos people, thus meticulously continuing their religious tradition.
The narrow stone-paved uphill alleys that are interrupted every now and then by landings and steps are everywhere to be found, huge bougainvilleas embrace balconies and freshly-whitened walls, surrounding small yards.
The austere dark brown doors and windows of the past have timidly been giving way to other more lively colours.
Although the tones of brown, from light beige to dark chocolate continue to dominate traditionally, Skopelos people now dare to decorate the door and window frames on their houses with green, light blue, and emerald colours, even a glowing-red door here and a balcony there.
From the 16th century BC when Skopelos had been named Peparithos by the Cretans who arrived on the island bringing with them the cultivation of the olive tree and the vine, the island was occupied by various national groups, something that seems to be a tradition, since even today there is a considerable number of foreigners who have chosen Skopelos as their home.
There are many people living permanently here, spread out among the other villages on Skopelos and mainly Palaio Klima, enjoying the beauty and charm this unique land offers its approximately 6.000 residents and its innumerate summer visitors.
These foreigners are, of course, those who respect most of all the tradition and the colour of the island, which is still strong despite all the efforts of many to deliver it to the conveniences of civilization.
Through the capital (Chora) of Skopelos you will wander through the small picturesque streets; a beautiful route that starts out from Pigadaki , a little further up from Chora beach- from where you will climb to the Venetian castle dated back to the 13th c. and built by the Gkizi family. You will see, of course, only remnants of its walls, but it is worth it, as you will have the chance to marvel at the wonderful view from up there. Coming down the many steps, you will meet many churches –some of the oldest in Chora- while stopping every now and then to marvel at the unique view. When you think you are lost in the numerous alleys of Skopelos, just follow one downhill and you will find yourself at the port.
In Chora of Skopelos you will also admire the house of writer Pavlos Nirvanas (next to the church of the Three Hierarchs), which is due to open for the public in the near future, the exhibits of the Folklore museum –in the centre of Chora-, but also the wonderful architecture in general of the settlement houses. A visit to the archaeological site of Asklipieio is also worth it; this is found to the right of the harbour in the area Ampeliki. There is also a small number of archaeological findings exhibited there.
A wonderful route in Chora is that of the ascent from Panagitsa of Pirgos,–at the edge of the harbour, to the Castle. This route is like a trip back into the past. Wonderful churches, picturesque alleys, steep rocks with the Aegean opening out impressively in front of you.
Here it is worth mentioning a few words about the Panagitsa of Pirgos as locals call the church of Eisodia tis Theotokou (Presentation of Mary) at the edge of the port. This church is on the rock at the entrance of the port of Skopelos and it is one of the first images the visitor has when arriving to the island , very impressive we would say. The type of the church is complex, cruciform, and the dome rests on four pillars found in the main temple, but they are not surrounded by it. The temple is dated back to the 17th century and it portrays scenes from the Old and the New Testament. It is also decorated with engraved flowers and birds around the frames with the icons of saints. Lastly, there are icons from the 18th and 19th c. as well as a large icon found at sea.
The beauty of the Chora on Skopelos is such that it wins you over from the first moment. When you arrive in Chora you will understand our enthusiasm when referring to this place.
Text: Mrs. Kiki Triantafylli