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Escape to some beautiful islands of Greece > Sporades & Meteora July 15, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Greece Islands Aegean, Greece Mainland.
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Green Islands > The Green Islands are in the Aegean Sea north of Athens

The Sporades are commonly known as “The Green Islands” because much of their land is filled with thick pine forests. Four main islands make up the Sporades: Skiathos, Skopelos, Alonissos and Skiros. All the islands are well connected by bus and ferry.

Skiathos is the busiest of the 4 islands in the Sporades and is especially popular with tourists. The beaches are what make Skiathos stand out. There are about 60 beaches on the island and most of the best ones are along the southern end. One beach that is particularly popular in high season is “Banana Beach” which is where people can sun bake in the nude.

The city of Skiathos is still a working port and this island is well-known for its seafood. The foreshore is lined with outdoor cafes and restaurants; the oldest and one of the best is Taverna Stamatis. This is where the locals come to eat and the lobster salad is supposed to be the favoured dish. Skiathos also has quite an active nightlife with the night clubs and discos open until about 4 am.

A 45 minute hydrofoil trip from Skiathos is Skopelos. This island is bigger, more rugged and more traditionally Greek than Skiathos. Like all of the Green Islands, this island is also heavily pine-forested and the inland is more agricultural where olives, plums, pears and almonds are grown. The two main towns on this island are Glossa and Skopelos and are said to be the prettiest in the Sporades. The bays and beaches are also beautiful and most of the beaches have sun beds, umbrellas and some water sports. The beach at a town called Stafylos is a pebbly beach rather than sand, so the water is especially clear.

There are almost 400 churches on the island of Skopelos, with 123 churches in Skopelos Town alone. The two nunneries, Evangelistria and Timios Prodomos, are popular tourist attractions. Evangelistria was built in the 14th century and has been a nunnery for the last 100 years.

There are more Greek monasteries on the mainland in the area of Meteora. You can book day trips from the Green Islands to Meteora locally, or if you would prefer to overnight in Meteora and book the trip package from Athens. The monasteries here are perched atop massive rock formations that were formed by shifts in the earth millions of years ago. The Greek Orthodox monks devised an elaborate system of ladders and nets to build these structures because the inaccessibility of the rocks made them an ideal hideaway. The first was built in the 12th century and by the end of the 16th century there were 32 monasteries providing peace and safety for hundreds of monks and refugees. Many of them were destroyed during the Greek War of Independence and World War II, and today only 6 remain. Over the last 50 years there have been stairs and a pulley system constructed to provide access for tourists. There is a strict dress code enforced while visiting the monasteries– women must wear skirts below their knees and men must wear long trousers and arms must be covered.

The nearest town to Meteora is Kalambaka situated on the foothills of Meteora and on the left side of river Penios. Kalambaka has been inhabited since the ancient times, while on its place the ancient city of Aeginio existed. In the medieval era Kalambaka was named Stagoi Trikkis.

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