Alexandros Papadiamandis was born in Skiathos on 3rd March 1851 and was the son of the priest Adamantios Emmanuel and Angeliki Moraitidi. He completed the primary school and the first two grades of the Hellenic school in Skiathos. He later attended a school in Skopelos and in Piraeus and finally he graduated in 1874. In the same year in September, he was registered in the Faculty of Philosophy in the University of Athens but he never graduated from it. At that time he wrote his first lyric poem about his mother. In 1879 he published his first novel "the Immigrant" in the newspaper "Neologos" of Constantinople. At the same time he started working as a translator. He wrote very many novels and short stories, mainly describing the everyday life and the holiday festivities in his island. In 1911 he was honoured with the medal of the "Silver Cross Of The Saviour" and next day he died of pneumonia.
Just before the end of the road to Koukounaries, you can turn right at "The Golden Beach Hotel" over the hill to the beach of Aghia Eleni which has two beach tavernas on it. The bay of Aghia Eleni is a natural sandy coastline on the west side of Skiathos and is named after the little country church found there, dedicated to Saint Helen. There is nearly always a cool breeze blowing there, so it is a quite good place for windsurfing once you are off the shore where the wind tends to swirl around a bit. The sun shines until very late so if you swim there, you will enjoy even its last rays. The crystal - clear bluish waters are inviting and the pine-trees reaching the sea will offer you their refreshing shade under their dense leafs. This beach is very popular with families, as it is relatively peaceful.
Just before you get to Aghia Eleni, there is a dirt road off to the right. If you follow this for about 1 kilometre, you come to a steep path that runs down to the hidden beach of Kryfi Ammoudia (=”Secret Sandy Beach”). There is not a lot of room for parking cars there but there is a very nice "funky" taverna on the beach.
Lalaria is one of the nicest and most picturesque beaches of Greece and it is situated on the northern coast of the island. The northern winds fall with rage on the steep purely white cliffs, towering impressively over the sea. The winds and waves have carved out some spectacular rocks and have been creating for millions of years the round white marble like pebbles called "lalaria" which cover the whole beach. Pick up a prized pebble and marvel at the arch in the rocks cut out by countless thousands of years of rough seas; you will often see it on Greek posters and postcards. The sea is the most amazing colour of indigo and is crystal clear. The sun paints silver and copper highlights on the imposing rocks and cliffs and creates a fairytale scene far removed from the sandy southern beaches.
Kastro, located at the northest tip of the island, is really well worth the effort to visit. It was very difficult to get to until a dirt road was opened recently. Now you can reach it by motorbike or 4 wheel drive car. Following this road will bring you to the turn off for Kastro where you will have to leave your transport and walk for 10 to 15 minutes down to the old town of Kastro. Alternatively, you could take one of the boats that leave the Skiathos fishing harbour each day, land at Kastro beach and climb the path to Kastro. The houses have fallen down but you will still get a feel for what life must have been like between the 14th and 19th century. There are a few churches that still hold services on certain feast days throughout the year. Among them the famous "Christ at the Castle" church.
"Bourtzi" is probably a Venetian word meaning a small castle, mostly on a small islet, made for the protection of a sea port.
Bourtzi of Skiathos is a small islet joined to the main island by a dock, which separates the port of Skiathos in two. It used to be a fort established by the Guisi brothers from Venice, who occupied Skiathos in 1207. Walls, battlements and embrasures surrounded it and on both sides of the gate there were two round towers. It is not possible to determine the height of the walls by the present ruins. Moreover, in the fort there was a water tank and a small church called Aghios Georgios, protector of the Venetians, probably built also by the Guisi brothers. Because of that church, Bourtzi was also called "Castle of St. George". The fort was destroyed in 1660 when the admiral Francesco Morozini occupied the island.
Today Bourtzi is the small, wooded peninsula situated between the old harbour and the new ferry harbour. On it there is a magnificent old stone building (which used to be a school), an open-air theatre and a traditional Greek coffee shop. Throughout the summer, the municipality organises there a series of cultural events. In the "Bourtzi" building, exhibitions are held of Greek artists and other facets of Greek culture, such as ancient mosaics. The open-air theatre, which is a marvellous place to sit on a warm summer night, hosts performances ranging from ballet and concerts to theatre and films or traditional Greek "shadow-theatre". It is well worth a visit here, it is not necessary to understand Greek to enjoy most of these events and the atmosphere is quite special. (Bring a cushion to sit on, as the seats are quite hard). Live music is performed at the traditional cafe on many evenings throughout the summer while the sea and the lights of Skiathos harbour make a wonderful backdrop to these performances.
If you would like to get offshore, then there are many caiques available to take you to most beaches, but especially to Lalaria which is famous for its beautifully round, sea-formed pebbles and can only be reached from the sea. Boats leave from the Old Port in the mornings around 10.00 or 11.00 a.m, when the wind is calm from the north. Another way would be to hire a small boat yourself but please take care as the sea in the north can become very rough in the afternoon. Equip yourselves with cool drinks as there are neither umbrellas nor canteens there. Lalaria is a "must see" place.
Two literary figures, cousins, known as "the two Alexanders", are dominating over the recent cultural history of the island:
Alexandros Papadiamantis, 1851 - 1911.
Alexandros Moraitidis, 1850 - 1929
Remember to visit Papadiamandis' House which you will find near the bottom of the street with the same name. It is the house, as it is said on a built-in inscription on one of its walls, in which he lived and died. It was built in 1850 -1860 by father-Adamantios, the author's father who was a priest. It functions as a museum dedicated to the great man which is worth a look at.
This house is located about 100 metres inland from the eastern coast of the city, in a narrow dead-end sidestreet of the present Papadiamanti street. It has two levels with the upper floor used for habitation and the ground floor used for storage.
On the left, as we enter, there is the winter room with its historical fireplace. This is where Papadiamantis lived his last moments. On the fireplace there were two shelves where all the cups of the house were.
Going back in time, we see that the people of Skiathos, together with their toil of the land, have shown great interest in the cultivation of the soul. Many chose to write stories, poems and songs as a way of expressing themselves, most notably the "Two Alexanders", both of which have glorified the customs and traditions of the island with their amazing short stories. Check out "Tales from a Greek Island" by Papadiamandis, published by The Johns Hopkins University Press of Baltimore and London.
The Holy Monastery Of The Annunciation Of The Virgin, well known as Evangelistria Monastery, built between 1794 and 1806, is a "must see" if you are into architecture and history. It is very old but well kept, and lays claim to being the place to bless and raise the present Greek flag during the struggle for freedom from the Turks in 1807. Many valuable relics, goldware and silverware are kept in the monastery, as well as old manuscripts and books. The old oil-press building of the monastery has been recently converted into a folk museum.
It is still a working monastery so give it the respect it deserves. To get there, take the ring road from the town and look out for a narrow road with a sign saying "Evangelistria" and "Kastro". It's on the right just after the airport turning. If you go on foot, There is also a track, very steep in places, so be careful.
Not really a lovely beach to write about, more a place to cool off in the sea after walking across the old Castle to see the ruins. This beach is situated on the northern tip of the island, under the old medieval town of Skiathos. The beach at Kastro is pebbly but nice, a wonderful spot to view the old town of Kastro and contemplate how life must have been for Skiathitees in the days before independence from Ottoman empire. In the high season boats stop here with tourists who have come to see the place. That means refreshments and possibly a lift back to the town if the thought of walking back is too much to take. There is a traditional small taverna-cafe (not seen in the photo), in a lovely situation, selling omelettes and sandwiches. The combination of a swim in the bluish transparent waters and a visit to the old city of Kastro is a unique experience you must not miss while you are in Skiathos.
The famous "Christos sto Kastro" church (=Christ at the Castle), devoted to the Nativity of Christ, was the cathedral of the medieval city. It is a basilica with a wood curved roof, built in the 17th century. It has worthwhile frescoes and a nice wood cut icon screen dated in 1695. This is the church which has been praised the most by Alexandros Papadiamandis and Alexandros Moraitidis in their Christmas novels.