Skopelos Island, The Sporades. Northern Aegean.
|Guided tours:||self guided|
Basilios D. Koukorinis (1977):
|As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
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On the northern coast of Skopelos is a small island, formed when part of the cliff fell into the sea. The villagers have built a small chapel and christened it with the name "St. John the Beheaded".
To the west of the chapel there is a small stone wall, the other side of which is a steep and narrow path leading down to the hermitage. There, underneath a large stone is a cave, where an unknown Christian led a hermit's life. Every year on the 29 August, Mass is celebrated in the chapel to commemorate the life of St John the Beheaded.
Text by Tony Oldham (2002). With kind permission.
Tradition has it that a fisherman from Glossa, as he was returning one night, saw a light from the top of the rock. He saw it every night, until a woman appeared in his sleep who revealed to him that there was an image at the top of the rock. When he climbed to the top he found the icon of St. John the Baptist.
He took the icon with him, but wherever he carried it, it returned to its original place. Finally a little church was built to protect the icon. The event is commemorated every year on the 29th of August.
The rock is quite spectacular, with 106 steps leading to the top of the rock with the small chapel dedicated to Agios Ioannis in Kastri. The rock is said to be 100 m high, which we think is exaggerated. But nevertheless the ascend is a little strenuous. The hermit cave is located along the trail. The beach at the foot of the rock is called Mamma Mia Beach, because a beach scene from the Abba musical movie Mamma Mia was filmed here. Its the scene where Maryl Streep and Pierce Brosnan got married in. The place can be reached by car from Glossa on 5.5 km narrow and winding roads. It is signposted Skopelos Agios Ioannis Kastro. There are no villages on this side of the peninsula.