Skaros used to be an important medieval settlement on the island of Santorini, built under the protection of a high and steep cliff. The rock wall with the remains of the fortress of Skaros is one of the most famous symbols of the Greek island of Santorini and lies on its western coast, near the village of Imerovigli.
In the Middle Ages, Skaros was one of the first five fortresses built on the island of Santorini. But Skaros was the most important of these medieval fortifications and was home to important Venetian nobility. The site on the slopes of a high cliff was chosen as a very strategic location for its construction, as the fortress was intended to serve the inhabitants primarily as a protection against pirate raids. From here, the defenders had a good view of the shores of the island and were thus forewarned of any potential danger.
The protection of the town was provided by two castles. The older, so-called "upper castle" Epano Kastro, which dates back to the 15th century, and the younger, so-called "lower castle" Kato Kastro, built in the 17th century. The entire settlement was built of rock fragments and stones and it is remarkable that its small boundaries would have accommodated 200 dwellings, including churches and monasteries, linked by narrow labyrinth-like streets. A wooden drawbridge connected the village to the surrounding countryside.
It is said that the Venetian fortress of Skaros was never conquered during its long existence. The reason for its gradual depopulation is thought to be a series of volcanic eruptions and earthquakes that forced the inhabitants to move to a safer location. The fortified settlement of Skaros was thus the island's capital until the 18th century, when the new capital of Fira (Thira) was founded.
Nowadays, only the remains of this important settlement can be found, with the foundations of buildings still visible in some places. But the view of the unique Skaros rock will certainly captivate you. Head to the village of Imerovigli, where you will have Skaros in the palm of your hand. And not only Skaros, Imerovigli is the highest village in the northwestern part of the island and offers a spectacular view of the flooded caldera and the famous Santorini sunset.
From the village of Imerovigli, you can walk along a well-maintained path to the Skaros rock itself. You will start your walk at the church of Agios Georgios and then there are plenty of steps (but firm and comfortable ones). Nearby you can still stop at two beautiful chapels - the Agios Ioannis Apokefalistheis Chapel and the Panaghia Theoskepasti Chapel. The white church of Panaghia Theoskepasti (Church of the Patronage of God) was built here by local sailors as a thank you to their patron saint for protecting them on their shipping expeditions. The church stands on the edge of the cliff in front of the former fortress of Skaros, from where the view of the setting sun is truly unforgettable.
Most favourite sights of Santorini: Akrotiri (archeological site), Archeological Museum of Thera, Agios Anastasios Church (Imerovigli), Panagia Platsani Church (Oia), Akrotiri Lighthouse, Ruins of Byzantine castle (Oia), Ancient-Thira (archeological site)
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