The story of Kastro from Skiathos

via Site Settings ‹ idjourney —

           Kastro is a fortress situated in the northen part of Skiathos island. At around 1360, the citizens of Skiathos town left the city because of the pirates raids and build a settlement at Kastro. The three sides of the fortress facing the sea were reinforced with small wall, while the point where Kastro connects to land was reinforced with thick, wide walls. It is said that the population ranged from 500 to 1500 inhabitants until 1829 when the people deserted Kastro in order to return to Skiathos town. The 400 houses, the 20 churches, the whole fortress was totally abandoned. Today this place told us its story from the troubled medieval times.

            Kastro was under the control of the Venetians from 1360 until 1538 when the Ottoman fleet, led by Hayreddin Barbarossa, conquered this fortress. The Ottomans remained here until 1821, with a small interruption in 1660 when the Venetians returned for a short time.

            The uppermost part of Kastro known as Barberaki, was the main defense point since all the surrounding area could be seen from this point. Another defense point was the gate at the entrance to Kastro, the only point of entry in the fortress. Here the people used boiling oil as a defense method. Among the churches, the Church of the Nativity, the main church of the Byzantine period, is very important. It was built in the 17th century on the site of a 14th-century old church. The 26 icons found in this church can be admired at the Cathedral of the Three Hierarchs in Skiathos Town. My favorite church was the Holly Temple of St. Marina that was renovated in 1950. Every year, on July 16, a night vigil is held here.

            The life of the locals was not at all easy at that time. For example, there are no springs on the site of the fortress. The water was brought from the springs on the island and the water was kept in a tank at the entrance of the city. Behind the Church of the Nativity was another tank, tiled with porcelain on the inside, in which rain water was collected. Each family has the right to use a specific amount of water.

            We reach Kastro on a partially asphalt road. The parking lot is limited, as there is a spectacular beach nearby the fortress which becomes crowded at noon. Both the fortress and the beach can also be reached on a daily trip boat from Skiathos town.

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