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Greek Island of Skyros Boasts Near-Deserted Beaches and Wild Ponies

Skyros Greece
Source: Municipality of Skyros

Skyros, the southernmost of the Sporades, is not among the better-known Greek islands, but it has a devoted following of visitors who come back year after year, drawn by its many unique features.

In Skyros, green and blue coexist in total harmony, creating landscapes and enchanting images of beauty. Picturesque villages are scattered mainly in the northern part of the island, each one with its own distinctive beauty.

The years when the Central Aegean island was not among the most popular Greek destinations are over. Skyros is gradually becoming globally known for its beauty, and this is reflected in the prizes won recently at international tourist exhibitions, such as ITB in Berlin.

Most people go to Skyros to laze on nearly-deserted beaches or stay at one of the dozen resorts offering holistic retreats.

The main town of Hora is built on a hill topped by a Byzantine castle, itself topped by the monastery of Saint George.

Skyros Greece
A narrow alley at Chora, Skyros. Credit: Municipality of Skyros

There is no other way to get around its narrow alleys but to walk, and the whitewashed houses seamlessly merge into each other.

One can smell the jasmine while peering through open doors and windows at living rooms traditionally decorated with colorful ceramics and finely-carved wooden furniture.

At the entrance of the Byzantine castle, there is a walled-in marble lion (dragon) and remains of the Cyclopean and Byzantine walls.

The view to the sea and to the rest of the Northern Sporades islands is overwhelming.

Inside the castle lie the ruins of a ninth-century church as well as the castle monastery of Agios Georgios. Here, among the offerings, shines the gold medal of the first Greek Olympic champion, Spyros Louis.

British poet Rupert Brooke passed away near Skyros during the First World War. Apart from his tomb, he is commemorated with a statue at a square at the north end of town from which the view of the Aegean is breathtaking.

The famous ponies of Skyros

The Skyrian pony is a unique breed which has existed on the island since its introduction by the Athenians in the eighth century BC.

Skyros Greece
Credit: Wikipedia

The mountains to the southeast of Skyros town are home to the rare breed which can only be found on Skyros and numbers only a few hundred today.

For many centuries, the ponies have lived, evolved, and developed their unique characteristics here,  isolated from the rest of the Greek islands and the mainland.

The ponies are comparatively short at 9.1 to 11 hands (avg. 105 cm) tall, and they are small-bodied owing to the low food availability in the mountains.

The ponies’ coats are either what is known as Bay, meaning reddish-brown hair with black mane and tail; Gray, which is rarer and is white hair on black skin; or Palomino, namely golden brown hair with white mane and tail. Skyros ponies have small heads, wide bordered eyes, long, flowing manes, and thin, straight shoulders.

It is said that the ponies of Skyros, famous for their endurance, were used by the army of Alexander the Great during his conquests and travel to Asia.

Near-deserted beaches

Skyros Greece
Magazia beach on Skyros. Credit: Municipality of Skyros

On Skyros, you can bask on some of the most beautiful beaches in Greece. Crystal-clear waters, golden sands and stunning landscapes dominated by pine trees reaching down to the shore make up its breathtaking scenery, ideal for blissful moments of relaxation.

Skyros Greece
Credit: Municipality of Skyros

The closest beaches to Hora are Magazia, Molos, Papa to Houma, and Lino. The extended sandy beach of Molos is among the most cosmopolitan spots on the island.

To the north of the island, you can opt for the beaches of Petritsa, Kyra Panagia, Agios Petros, and Theotokos.

The following video highlights the unique moments that a visitor of Skyros can enjoy. It is voiced over by actor Johnny Theodoridis, and producers are with Giannis Kiriakidis.

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