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Greece, Sporades, Skopelos Town, view of town from harbor.

Skopelos, Greece

The “green island” of the Northern Sporades is nearly half covered in pine forest. According to mythology, it was created by Dionysus, and in ancient times was famous for its wines, a heritage of settlers from Crete. Wine production is greatly reduced now, after a disastrous phyloxera infestation in the 1940s. Much of the coast consists of steep cliffs, though the island does have a few beaches. Atop one of these cliffs stands the chapel of Agios Ioannis, which was the location for the wedding scene in the film “Mamma Mia.”  The port town of Skopelos, or Chora, is famous for its protected stock of traditional Pelion-style houses. The Folklore Museum houses many artifacts from the local culture. Agios Athanasios church, from the 11th century, is just one of the islands 360 churches, although many are either privately owned or closed. There are some interesting Byzantine monasteries however. Beekeeping is popular on Skopelos, and flower or pine honey makes a nice souvenir. The Sporades are a main breeding area for the endangered Mediterranean monk seals.