The ancient name of the island of Skopelos was Peparithos, named after the brother of its first inhabitant, Stafylos. According to legend Stafylos was one of the sons of the god Dionysus and his consort, the princess Ariadne of Crete.
This connection with Crete and the ancient legend of how Princess Ariadne was seduced by Dionysus, has lead scholar to believe that Skopelos was once an outpost of the Minoan civilisation. Archeological findings have confirmed this connection in the form of an ancient sword and grave site found in the Southeastern part of Skopelos Island. These artifacts are attributed to King Stafylos and area still bares his name.
The sword is now displayed at the Archaeological Museum of Athens.
Following Mycenaean era, there is spare details regarding the island until the 6th to early 5th century, which is known to be a period of prosperity for Paparithos (Skopelos). During this period, silver coins were minted here and trade relations were maintained with other Aegean city-states. The island exported and was famous for its wine and high quality olive oil.
It is also known that an inhabitant of the island, Agnon, participated in the 569 BC Olympic Games. He is recorded to have won a race at the stadium and the bay of Agnondas took its name in his honor.
Following the Persian Wars, Peparithos lost its independence and became part of the First Athenian Alliance. In 427 BC, according to the historian Thucydides, Skopelos was hit by a great earthquake accompanied by a terrible tidal wave, due to which many public buildings were demolished.
Then, following a short period under the protectorate of the Spartans, Skopelos joined the Second Athenian Alliance.
Hellenistic to Byzantine Era
During the Hellenistic period (late 4th - 1st century BC), Skopelos often became an epicentre for conflicts between the Romans and the Macedonians. It is during this period that several temples and fortifications were built in various parts of the island, from which important ruins survive. The wine produced on Skopelos continued to be a key export and it's fame for being both of very high quality and having aphrodisiac properties reached throughout the classical Greek world.
After the Roman conquest and occupation of Greece in 146 BC, Peparithos (Skopelos) seems to have retained some independence, as evidenced by the copper coins minted at that time. The modern name of Skopelos first appeared in the texts of Ptolemy (2nd century AD), and is probably due to the many reefs and shelves that exist around the island.
Christianity developed and spread to the island from an early age. In the 4th century AD the island was dominated by the figure of Bishop Riginos, who contributed to the spread of the new religion in the Northern Sporades. In 363, during Emperor Julian's persecution of Christians, Riginos was killed and the church declared him a saint. Riginos, bishop of Skopelos, is honored as a Saint of the Orthodox Church on February 25 and is the patron saint of the island.
During the Byzantine era, Skopelos seems to have been used as a place of exile. The island is rarely mentioned in sources from this time. After the Fall of Constantinople by the Franks, the island was conquered by the Venetians and was part of the Duchy of Naxos. The island was then invaded and destroyed repeatedly by various forces. In 1453 Skopelos was again occupied by the Venetians and until 1538 it avoided the Turkish occupation. Remains of Venetian rule today are some family names, a few place names and many words in the Skopelos vocabulary.
Turkish Occupation to Greek Independence
In 1538 AD Skopelos is occupied and destroyed by the Turkish chief of staff of the Ottoman fleet, Hairedin Barbarossa. However, the island does not seem to have been completely deserted, because shortly after 1538 there was a flourish of christian church building.
During the years of Turkish rule, Skopelos retained the privileges it enjoyed during the Venetian period and was fortunate not to have a permanent Turkish population on the island. Travelers who visited Skopelos from the 16th to the 19th century. spoke about a well populated city with great economic strength.
From 1750 Greek militiamen and rebels began to come to the island from Olympus, Halkidiki and Thessaly. In pre-revolutionary Greece, Skopelos was the meeting place for the fleet of Nikotsara and Giannis Stathas (heroic figures from the rebellion). During the Revolution of 1821, Skopelos took an active part in the struggle, and the leaders of Skopelos helped their mainland brothers whenever they needed it. Eventually, Skopelos became part of the first Greek State, in 1830.