|Skaros was one of the five fortified settlements
and the most important one. The rock was inhabited in medieval
times, because the fortress constructed there offered protection
The original castle, known as ‘Epano Kastro’
(Upper castle in Greek) or 'La Roka' was built in the later
Byzantine years by the Venetian Giacomo Barozzi. The first
Duke of Naxos Marco Sanudo gave Santorini to Giacomo Barozzi
in the year of 1207.
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 hung a large
bell, to warn inhabitants of imminent pirate raids.
The promontory at Skaros has been shaken repeatedly by strong
earthquakes. Historical sources say that earthquakes during
the eruptions of 1650, 1701 to 1711, and 1866 to 1870 caused
considerable damage. The Venetian noble families that lived
there decided to leave after the eruptions of 1707 to 1711.
Skaros was the capital of Santorini until the 18th century,
although evacuation of Skaros started at the beginning of
the 17th century. The rich Roman Catholics who had once lived
there had moved to the town of Fira, abandoning the castle
for a lower flatter level with access to the sea.
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