The original castle, known as ‘Epano Kastro’ (Επάνω Κάστρο: which means the Upper castle or 'La Roka') was built in the later Byzantine years by the Venetian Giacomo Barozzi.
A whole settlement was built around and below Epano Kastro, the 'Kasteli' of Skaros. The densely populated Catholic settlement had 200 houses, and to reach its walls required at least half an hour’s walk. At the top of the rock a large bell was placed and its purpose was to warn inhabitants of imminent pirate raids.
A number of eartquakes (based on various historical sources) during 1650, 1701 to 1711, and 1866 to 1870 caused considerable damage at Skaros and the surrounding area. The Venetian noble families that lived there decided to leave after the eruptions of 1707 to 1711.
The wealthy Roman Catholics that lived at Skaros for a number of years started evacuating their premises and moved to Fira. Skaros was the capital of Santorini until the 18th century, although evacuation of Skaros started at the beginning of the 17th century.
According to sketches and accounts of Count Choiseul-Gouffier, who visited Santorini in 1770, there were still houses on Skaros at that time. However when archaeologist Ludwig Ross visited Santorini in 1836, Skaros had been empty for years.
Skaros rock of today is totally uninhabited with the exception of a small church, the Chapel of Agios Ioannis Apokefalistheis, on its north side. Only a few ruins are left from the formerly numerous dwellings.
You will find the path that leads to Skaros just a few meters further down the church. Standing on the top of the stairs you have to gaze at the view. Look out for the cement stairs which are wide and you will descend easily.
After few minutes you will meet a small chapel Agios Ioannis, Katiforis (Saint John - the one that goes downhill). The chapel is a perfect place for pictures.
The stairs leads you along red and black rocks and then you will pass some ruins attached to the rocks, old houses testifying that Skaros was once inhabited. When you reach the end of the stairs you will find few ruined, deserted houses from red and black volcanic stones.
Once you have reached this part of the hiking route you need have to decide which path you will follow. The one sitting in front of you leads straight up to the rock's tip. The other path, on your left, goes around the rock 20 meters below the tip. You should do both of them, first do the easy one, the one that goes to the top.
On your way up there you will come across with the remains of the buildings and the cave houses (hyposkafa). Follow the path and you will get to the Rock.
When you return search for the second path. It is very narrow and rather difficult to determine it but it will lead you to an amazing scenery. Few minutes later and a downhill of 200 stairs you will find the remote chapel Theoskepasti; a beautiful white church standing all alone staring at the horizon. .
On your way back, if you look up you will see Imerovigli on the top of the cliff and the white church of St Georgios. Just follow the path and you will return to Caldera.
Duration: Max 1 hour Min 40 minutes (depending on hiking experience)
What to Wear: Sneakers - Hiking Shoes / Hat or Scarf / Sun glasses / Sun cream
Supplies: One or two bottles of water for each person
Must have: Camera and Video Camera. Also a torch if you are hiking in the afternoon
Challenge: The challenge here is the large number of steps you have to go down and up - approx 300 steps util you reach Skaros base and 200 util Theoskepasti church.