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HISTORY OF SIKINOS

Sikinos is a Greek island and municipality in the Cyclades. It is located between the islands of Ios and Folegandros. In ancient times, the island contained a town of the same name. It is said to have been originally called Oenoe getting the name from the cultivation of the vine [οίνος (gr.) = wine], but have been renamed Sikinos by the son of King of Limnos Thoas and the nymph Oinoi.

The name «Sikinos» has been maintained constant through antiquity up to today. Only at the period of «Fragokratia» it was renamed for a short time to «Sykandros», as noted by the Florentine priest Christoforos Vouedolmontis (or Bouedolmontis) who visited Sikinos in 1422. He mentioned that this name was given to the island due to the many figs that the island produces [σύκα (gr.) = figs]. Sikinos is also named Sykandros, by Porchachi (in 1572), Boschini (in 1651), Piancenza (in 1688). Sikinos is also mentioned as «Zetine» or «Setine» and «Setin» in naval maps of that time.

Like most of the other Grecian islands, was conquered by Xerxes I in the Greco-Persian Wars, during the 5th century B.C. but afterwards it joined as part of the Athenian maritime empire.

On the island there are two villages: Alopronia, a small village in the port of the island. “Pronoia” is the Greek word for providence. The form Alopronoia introduces the component “als”, “the sea” in ancient Greek and shifts the meaning to ‘providence from the sea’.

Chora is the main village, located in the center of the island. Chora is probably the best well – preserved traditional village of the Cyclades. It is divided in two small neighborhoods that stand one opposite the other.

“Castro”, named by the medieval Castle of 12-13th century, built on top of the hill and Chorio, a traditional village full of stone-made white coloured restored 400 year old houses. The majestic Cycladic Architecture at its best!

Nearly all of the island’s area is covered by terraces once used for extensive agriculture-especially vineyards. Dry stone construction is best known in the context of stone walls, traditionally used for the boundaries of fields and churchyards, or as retaining walls for terracing, but dry stone sculptures, buildings, bridges, and other structures also exist. Currently, only a few of these terraces are used but all of them have been declared UNESCO World Heritage Sites since 2018.

Several ancient ruins rest on the island, some remains of the ancient city situated upon a lofty and rugged mountain.

In the countryside, there are as many as 64 private churches, of which the oldest and most important one is Piskopi (Episkopi), which merits particular attention. Six of the other churches have murals dating from 1270-1350, which means that Sikinos is second only to Naxos when it comes to medieval – byzantine churches decorated with beautiful frescoes.

The ones you can’t miss are definitely the medieval ones:

  • The church of Photodotis Christos (Christ the Giver of Light), located in Christos (10’ to the west of Chora),

  • Ai Nikolas at Ranchi of Katergo,

  • Ai Stefanos to the north-west of Chorio,

  • Panagia over the ravine of Alopronoia,

  • Ai Giorgis in Episkopi area

  • Agia Anna just next to Episkopi

and also the late medieval ones:

  • Agios Ioannis Notaris church in Castro

  • Agia Aikaterini church in Castro

  • Eisodia tis Theotokou church in Chorio

  • Holy Cross (or Pantanassa) Church in Castro

  • Agios Savvas between Castro and Chorio, on the main road and

  • The fortified monastery of Zoodochos Pigi

A rare monument for the greek cultural heritage is located in the hinterland of Sikinos. The unique and impressive palimpsest of Antiquity and the Middle Ages located at Sikinos is called Episkopi. The temple was built in the 2nd-3rd century A.D. as a Roman tomb monument and this is evidenced by its underground vaulted crypts. Later became the temple of Apollo the Pythious and in the 5th century, the temple was converted into a Christian church dedicated to the Dormition of the Virgin.

In 2017, the Greek Ministry of Culture launched a project to restore the heroön or heroοn (also latinized as heroum, is a shrine dedicated to an ancient Greek or Roman hero and used for the commemoration or cult worship of the hero) of Episkopi. During restoration work in July 2018, a prominent woman’s undisturbed burial ground came to light.

The marble cist grave was placed deep beneath the side slabs in the north-east corner of the main room, in a place inaccessible to the chambers of the building’s foundations[1]

Nowadays the municipality of Sikinos has 200 inhabitants during the autumn and winter season. However during the summer season the visitors and locals numbers can reach 2000. Sikinos includes the uninhabited island of Kardiotissa and other uninhabited islets. Its total land area is 42.507 square kilometres.

Sikinos still produces wine, olive oil, capers and excellent quality thyme honey. Being an island free of stress and good quality of daily life, it can be the ideal destination for those who want to experience the authentic Cycladic way of life.