History

Settlers allegedly from Caria, followed later by Thessalians, were the first stable inhabitants of the island. In the 7th century bc colonists from Chalcis in Euboea arrived and later founded a coastal settlement on the Kephala peninsula in the northeast corner of the island, known as ‘Palaiskiathos’. In Classical times a second city succeeded it, with a new site on the low hill in the south west of mod ern Skiathos town, which controlled the bay and its double-port. Sections of the 4th century enceinte of walls are all that remain of this city. Skiathos played its part during the Second Persian War providing solid Greek support at a geographically strategic point on the enemy’s route south, and relaying vital information signals. In the waters off the island, three Greek guardships of the fleet at Artemision were surprised by a squadron of Xerxes’s fleet (providing Herodotus with one of his most realistic details—the capture of the wounded captain, Pytheas of Aegina, who was spared for his valour and later rescued at Salamis. Hist. VII, 181). At the same time, three ships of the Persian advance-guard ran aground on a reef, which Herodotus calls ‘the Ant’, between Skiathos and the mainland of Magnesia, which the Persians subsequently marked with a stone beacon. Skiathos joined the Delian League after the war (paying a tribute of 1,000 drachmas) and became in effect a subject ally of Athens. After the Battle of Chaeronea in 338 bc, the island passed under Macedonian rule and was later devastated by Philip V of Macedon in 220 bc. Freed by Rome in 197 bc, it was gifted to Athens by Mark Anthony in acknowledgement of her help after the Battle of Philippi in 42 bc.
   In Byzantine times, Skiathos belonged to the theme of Macedonia. In 1204, after the Fourth Crusade, the island came under the possession of the Ghisi family together with the other Sporades islands. In 1276 they were driven out by the Byzantine fleet. After the fall of Constantinople in 1453, the inhabitants sought the protection of the Venetian Republic, which governed the island until it was captured for the Turks by Khaireddin Barbarossa in 1538. Skiathos subsequently was all but deserted: habitation hesitantly returned to Kastro in the 17th century, but then later transferred to the site of the ancient town only in the relative security of the 19th century. The island became part of the newly formed Greek State in 1830. Skiathos was the home of the novelists Alexander Papadiamantis and Alexander Moraitidis in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.During the Second World War, Skiathos was a crucial place of refuge for retreating Allied troops (New Zealanders in the majority) who had been cut off by the German advance through Greece. Many sought safety at Kastro while waiting for boats to take them to Turkey. Later the town of Skiathos suffered a torching by retreating German troops: hence the prevailing modernity of its architecture.

Skiathos Island is part of the Sporades Island Group, Greece.

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