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All images © by Roberto Piperno, owner of the domain. Write to romapip@quipo.it. Text edited by Rosamie Moore.
Page added in October 2005.

Map of Schiatto Schiatto (Skiathos)

Key dates:
1204: the Byzantine Empire is parcelled out among the leaders of the Fourth Crusade after they conquer Constantinople, but the small Aegean islands (including Schiatto) soon fall directly or indirectly into the hands of Venice: Schiatto was ruled by the Ghisi, a family of Venetian merchants.
1276: the island returns under the often nominal rule of the reconstituted Byzantine Empire.
1453: the Turks seize Constantinople: the inhabitants of Schiatto ask for Venetian protection.
1470: the Turks seize Negroponte while the Venetian fleet is in Schiatto.
1538: Khayr al Din (Barbarossa - red beard), corsair and admiral of the Turkish fleet, seizes Schiatto.
1660: the Venetian admiral Francesco Morosini briefly occupies the island.

View of the Bourtzi of modern Skiathos
Views of the "bourtzi" of modern Skiathos

Today Skiathos is a very popular tourist resort mainly because of the sandy beaches of its southern coast. The eight miles or so between the town of Skiathos and the beach of Koukounaries swarm with tourists and an incredible number of pubs, discos, fast foods, even Indian restaurants give to this part of the island the same picturesque Greek appeal of London's Earls' Court (i.e. none).
The town of Skiathos is relatively modern because until 1821 the inhabitants of the island lived on a fortified promontory on the northern coast: they resettled on a bay which was the natural harbour of the island and which was protected by a small medieval fortification, most likely built by the Ghisi in the XIIIth century. As other similar small fortresses protecting a harbour it is called bourtzi (see that of Napoli di Romania).

Monastery of Evangelistria
Evangelistria Monastery

The road leading to the old capital is in very poor condition: the paved road ends at Evangelistria Monastery, a fortified site with a commanding view over both the southern and the northern coasts of the island.

The church and its main altar
The church and its main altar

The church of the monastery retains on its main altar (decorated by a Bible between two scimitars, a very modern association of symbols) what is considered the first flag of Modern Greece, a white cross on a blue background. It was first raised in 1807 during a failed revolt against the Turks. The Greek flag was subsequently modified following the pattern of the American flag with the addition of nine white and blue stripes: a reference to the first nine syllables "Se gnoriso apo tin kopsi (We knew thee of old)" of the Greek national anthem "Hymn to Eleftheria (Freedom)", written by Dionysios Solomos, a poet from Zante.

Old Schiatto
Old Schiatto

The old town of Schiatto was located on an isolated headlong. High cliffs protected the site which could only be reached by land.

The ruins of Old Schiatto and beyond them the channel between the island and mainland Greece
The ruins of Old Schiatto and beyond them the channel between the island and mainland Greece

Only three small churches and a former mosque are not in ruins. Scattered stones and low walls give an indication of the old town's winding streets. The site allowed control of the channel between the island and the mainland. A lone cannon (which you can see in the image used as a background for this page) marks the site of a small fortress on the headlong highest point.

The access to the town and the rugged 
northern coast of the island
The access to the town and the rugged northern coast of the island

A drawbridge was the only access to the town: it was protected by two towers. So much of the coast around modern Skiathos is pleasant and welcoming, such a contrast to the coast near old Schiatto which is desolate and unfriendly. The fortress was considered impregnable. In 1660 however, the Venetian admiral Francesco Morosini, in charge of the defence of Candia, at the time besieged by the Turks, launched an offensive against the Aegean Islands which refused to financially help the Venetians, and because Schiatto refused to pay, he attacked and seized the fortress.

Introductory page on the Venetian Fortresses

Pages of this section:
On the Ionian Islands:     Corfų (Kerkyra)     Paxo (Paxi)     Santa Maura (Lefkadas)     Cefalonia (Kephallonia)     Asso (Assos)     Itaca (Ithaki)     Zante (Zachintos)     Cerigo (Kythera)
On the mainland: Butrinto (Butrint)     Parga     Preveza and Azio (Aktion)     Vonizza (Vonitsa)     Lepanto (Nafpaktos)     Atene (Athens)
On Morea:     Castel di Morea (Rio), Castel di Rumelia (Antirio) and Patrasso (Patra)     Castel Tornese (Hlemoutsi) and Glarenza     Navarino (Pilo) and Calamata     Modon (Methoni)     Corone (Koroni)     Braccio di Maina, Zarnata, Passavā and Chielefā     Mistrā     Corinto (Korinthos)     Argo (Argos)     Napoli di Romania (Nafplio)     Malvasia (Monemvassia)
On the Aegean Sea:     Negroponte (Chalki)     Castelrosso (Karistos)     Oreo     Lemno (Limnos)     Schiatto (Skiathos)     Scopello (Skopelos)     Alonisso     Schiro (Skyros)     Andro (Andros)     Tino (Tinos)     Micono (Mykonos)     Siro (Syros)     Egina (Aegina)     Spezzia (Spetse)     Paris (Paros)     Antiparis (Andiparos)     Nasso (Naxos)     Serifo (Serifos)     Sifno (Syphnos)     Milo (Milos)     Argentiera (Kimolos)     Santorino (Thira)     Folegandro (Folegandros)     Stampalia (Astipalea)     Candia (Kriti)

You may refresh your knowledge of the history of Venice in the Levant by reading an abstract from the History of Venice by Thomas Salmon, published in 1754. The Italian text is accompanied by an English summary.

Clickable Map of the Ionian and Aegean Seas with links to the Venetian fortresses and to other locations (opens in a separate window)