The geography of Skyros is mostly mountainous with multiplex coastlines.
It’s known as a "blessed" island because of its abundant water
supply both from high rainfall and from underground springs. The northern section
of the island is covered with pine trees, natural beauty spots and wonderful small
beaches. In contrast, the southern part is rocky, yet with its own wild beauty.
In this uncultivated environment of the south, wild goats and sheep roam freely,
as well as the unique "Skyrian horse".
The people of Skyros, contrary to other island people, mostly make
a living off the land rather than from the sea. The traditional arts and crafts
of the island are mostly unchanged - architecture, woodwork, weaving, embroideries
The Skyrian houses are well-known - small white cubes, one on top
of the other, clustering around the sides and base of the Castro for protection
from previous pirate raids. With their roofs of timber beams and bamboo, each
house is like a small museum and uses small spaces with maximum utility. Inside,
each is richly decorated with woodwork, ceramics, copperware, embroidery and weavings.
The capital of the island "Skyros"
or "Hora" (village) is built like an amphi-theatre around the sides
of the Castro. The "Megali Strata" leads up to the Castro, passing through
what was in the past, the aristocratic neighbourhood. Another characteristic of
Hora is the maze of narrow
streets, connected with their secret history of life’s beauty and love.
Capping the Castro is the monastery
of St. George, giving belief and hope to every Skyrian below. It was built
in 962 A.D. by the Byzantines Nikiforos Fokas and Ioannis Tsimiskis.
In many churches and their iconostasis, in the woodwork designs, in
the Skyrian costumes and in the local songs, the influence of Byzantium can clearly
be seen. This influence has impregnated and has been assimilated into the formation
of every creative Skyrian soul.
The charm of peaceful life is however interspersed with revelties
and feats - such as the traditional weddings, the church festivals on the Saints’
name-days, the famous Skyrian Carnival with its main characters of the "Yero",
the "Korela", the "Franko" (otherwise known as the "Goat-Dancers")
and Skyrians wearing traditional dress. Visitors of Skyros will enjoy the clean
sea and the beautiful beaches and may discover the natural beauty of the mountains.
This text (extract) is cited July 2003 from the Municipality
of Skyros tourist pamphlet (1996).