Skopelos Architecture

architecture of skopelosThe town of Skopelos was honored as a Traditional Settlement of Outstanding Beauty (19/10/1978 Presidential Decree 594,13-11/78, signed by President of Greece Konstantinos Tsatsos). This is the Greek equivalent of a site of Outstanding Architectural Inheritance. The building code for new construction and renovation within the village reflects some restrictions due to the Traditional Settlement decree. Some restrictions stipulate that no new buildings shall be of more than two stories, there must be a sloped ceramic or stone roof in the traditional style, and doors, windows and balconies be made of wood.


The traditional architecture of Skopelos preserved to this day dates from the second of the 18th century and primarily from the 19th and 20th century. On the basis of its morphological and structural characteristics is distinguished into two basic categories, with the liberation of the island from the Turks as its principal point: The popular and the neoclassical architecture.

The Popular Architecture

The popular architecture of Skopelos belongs to the type of the northern Greek architecture, adjusted of course to the local condition and peculiarities of the island and does not have any relation to the local architecture of the Aegean islands, which had developed in the southern island, mainly in the Cyclades, but also in the neighboring Skyros.

The differentiation of the architecture of the Northern Sporades from that of the Southern Aegean Island is due mainly to the climatic conditions of the area, namely the colder climate of the North Aegean and also its vicinity with Pilion and the strong influence which it exercised upon them.

The Macedonian Type

Many buildings of this category have been preserved at Hora (the capital) of Skopelos and a few in the other settlements of the island. They are usually either two-storey or even tree-storey, roofed with wooden four-aisle roofs covered with schist roof slates. They are stone-built in their greatest part, except for the façade of the last floor, which is built by "tsatma" (light wall made of wood and mud) which extends intensely out of the template of the base of the building, creating the well-known "sachnisia" of the local architecture, which are perforated by adjoining windows. The "sachnisia" step on successive layers of horizontal flanges which shape a hollow and convex face and at the lower part are joined of a wooden frame and filling of mud brick built for technical reasons with a fish-bone shape.

The ground plans of the houses vary and this is due mainly to the relief of the terrain, the existing town plan and the attempt to benefit from the natural recourses such as the sun, the air etc. They are usually of small dimensions, because of the narrowness of the available constructive space and therefore are built in vertical axis. On the first level, which is usually semi-basement was the kitchen for cooking and the cellar for the storage of the year's product. On the first floor were the living spaces, the every day room used to be, such as the dining room and the bedrooms, was on the last floor, which was usually a unified open space "averto", was the reception room.

architecture of skopelos choraThe rural type

They are the houses, which were being built in the Greek countryside in the older times. They were stone-built with one or two or in many times three floors, reinforced regularly with wooden frameworks , whereas on the floor there were parts of "tsatma", which however did not create "sachinia", as in the houses of the previous type, but great balconies. These balconies were roofed by the extension of the roof or in most cases with separate shelter, the well-known in the area "koukleto" (shelter) of the local traditional architecture. On the edge of these balconies where always used to be a WC, which was constructed by wooden planks, since the vital space in the interior of the house was limited and most of the times the house were deprived even of the free space, where the subsidiary utilities could be placed.

Two characteristic elements of this type of houses were: a) the "sofas", a small space on a higher level from the daily room; this room was used by the element of the family, and b) the "kuradouro" which existed in the older houses, and was a wooden elevated space supported by wooden beams, having always a fire-place for the heating of the room.

The Neoclassical Architecture

With the liberation of the island and its incorporation to the Greek State in 1829, its architecture follows the course and the evolution of the architecture of the newly established Greek state. Otho's coronation in 1832 will bring great changes in this sector too, witthe adoption of the neoclassicism as the format architectural style of the state. The influence exercised by the capital of a state on the periphery did not take long to become apparent even in Skopelos and neoclassicism to be established on the island following chronologically the tendencies and styles of the time.

In the first years there appeared some pompous buildings with evident the neoclassical characteristics as well as the elements of the preexisting popular architecture. These buildings belonged to rich merchants and captains, who having travelled a lot were the first to bring the new architectural style on the island. These buildings consist the transitional stage from the popular to the neoclassical architecture. With the passing of time the pure neoclassical style will be established in all constructions with all the characteristic morphological elements of this style.

The houses of this period are two-storey or even three-storey, stone-built and roofed as the ones of the previous period. They have a symmetrical organization both in their ground plan and on the formation of their facades, which are richly adorned with drawn decorative elements such as pilasters with antae capitals epistyles (architraves), friezes, eaves etc. Their entrances are usually framed by marble door frames whereas above them is always the balcony, which rests on a marble stone-relief "furusia" (wooden-beams) and are protected by forged rails.

Neoclassicism and its various relative movements will be maintained on the island until the first decades of the 20th century and will be succeeded by the contemporary architecture or as it was established to be said the "Architecture between the Two Great World Wars"..

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