The story of Skaros Rock 

One of the most impressive spots of Santorini, Skaros Rock draws thousands of visitors every summer with its scenic caldera views. Learn more about the story of this unusual rocky landmark! 

Santorini has certainly more to offer than luxurious hotels, serene beaches and glamorous nightlife. Few people know, in fact, that this mythical volcanic island is a real haven for hikers due to the numerous trails crisscrossing its land. This picturesque destination perfectly combines comfort with adventure and relaxation with exercise. These striking contrasts can be best experienced if you lace up your hiking boots and set off on a panoramic walk along the rim of the caldera. The popular trail between Oia and Fira, the two biggest towns on the island, will reveal the raw beauty of Santorini. One of the most spectacular stops of the laid-back 10-kilometer trail is Skaros Rock which adds an extra hour to your hike but it is absolutely worth it for the unparalleled views it offers. 

skaros rock

Skaros Rock is a large rock promontory that extends into the caldera, on the northwestern part of Santorini. It was created through volcanic activity, most probably an eruption dated to 68,000 B.C., and was shaped by tens of thousands of years of erosion and a series of violent earthquakes. However, Skaros Rock is not only geologically fascinating but also holds historical significance. On this rocky headland, located below Imerovigli, the oldest and most important Kasteli (fortress) was built back in the 15th century, which served to protect residents from the marauding hurdles of pirates. In the old times, the island boasted five Kastelia but Skaros Rock was the most significant of all due to also being the medieval capital of Santorini. The densely built and inhabited settlement was ruled by Venetian aristocracy, namely former architect Giacomo Barozzi who was given the land by Marco I Sanudo, the first Duke of Naxos. 

Skaros was a prosperous settlement with over 200 homes, several businesses, and a mainly Christian population. It also hosted a church complex called the Chapel of Panagia Theoskepasti and had access to the sea through a small harbor located below the rock. In the mid-16 century, Santorini suffered numerous Ottoman attacks, however, according to the legends, Skaros was never conquered. Its strategic location made it well-protected both from foreign enemies and pirates. Santorini managed to maintain its independence until 1566 when Ottoman grand admiral Piali Pasha arrived with a large fleet demanding the full annexation of Santorini to the Ottoman Empire. Skaros and the other settlements had no other choice but to accept the terms. After this event, Skaros was occupied by Ottoman garrison forces which kept the pirates away but, consequently, made the fortress lose its importance over the new capital, Fira. However, it was only the beginning of all the suffering the town had to go through. A series of frequent earthquakes between 1650 and 1870 severely damaged the settlement, and its inhabitants gradually left Skaros and moved to Fira. Today, only a pile of rocks remained there to keep the memory of the town alive. As you stand on the rocks looking over the shimmering Aegean Sea, you may feel a sense of awe about the power of nature that can turn a once flourishing center into withered ruins.

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