"Sporades" means "those scattered" (compare with "sporadic"), and was used from Classical Antiquity to refer to the Aegean island groups outside the central archipelago of the Cyclades. In modern geographical parlance, there are five different Sporades groups:
Thessalian Sporades (Θεσσαλικές Σποράδες) or Northern Sporades. Since ca. 1960, the term "Sporades" refers mainly to these islands:
According to the legend, Skopelos was founded by Staphylos or Staphylus (Greek for grape), one of the sons of the god Dionysos and the princess Ariadne of Crete. Historically, in the Late Bronze Age the island, then known as Peparethos or Peparethus (Ancient Greek: Πεπάρηθος), was colonised by Cretans, who introduced viticulture to the island.
Perhaps because of the legend of its founding by the son of the god of wine, the island was known throughout the ancient Greek cities of the Mediterranean Sea for its wine. The play Philoctetes (first performed at the Festival of Dionysus in 409 BC) by Sophocles includes a wine merchant lost on his way to "Peparethos, rich in grapes and wine".
Pliny the Elder, in his book "Natural History" writes: "The physician Apollodorus, in the work in which he wrote recommending King Ptolemy what wines in particular to drink -- for in his time the wines of Italy were not generally known -- has spoken in high terms of that of Naspercene in Pontus, next to which he places the Oretic, and then the Aeneatian, the Leucadian, the Ambraciotic, and the Peparethian, to which last he gives the preference over all the rest, though he states that it enjoyed an inferior reputation, from the fact of its not being considered fit for drinking until it had been kept six years."
In 1936 excavations in the area of Staphylos / Velanio uncovered a royal tomb of the era of Mycenaean Greece. The island was briefly under the control of the city-state Chalcis, Euboea since at least the 8th century BC.
In turn the island would come under the political influence or direct domination of:
the Kingdom of Macedon (338 - 146 BC).
The Roman Republic (146 - 27 BC).
The Roman Empire (27 BC - 330 AD).
The Byzantine Empire (330 - 1204).
The Latin Empire of Constantinople (ca 1204-1277)
The Byzantine Empire (1277 - ?).
The Ottoman Empire (? - 1403)
The Byzantine Empire (1403 - 1456).
The Republic of Venice known as Scopelo (1456 - 1538).
The Ottoman Empire (1538 until the Greek War of Independence).
Skopelos became part of the First Hellenic Republic under the London Protocol confirming its sovereignty (3 February 1830). During World War II, Skopelos fell under Axis occupation. At first it was occupied by the Kingdom of Italy (June 1941 - September 1943) and then by Nazi Germany (September 1943 - October 1944). Skopelos and the rest of Greece returned to democratic style government in 1944.
In the Middle Ages and until the 19th century, the island was known as Liadromia (Λιαδρόμια). It was renamed in 1838, as it was – mistakenly according to later research – identified with Alonnisos of Antiquity. In reality, the present island of Alonnisos was known as Ikos (Ίκος) to the Ancient Greeks.
In Ancient times, the island played a minor role during the Persian Wars. In 480 BC, the fleet of the Persian King Xerxes was hit by a storm and was badly damaged on the rocks of the Skiathos coast. Following this the Greek fleet blockaded the adjacent seas to prevent the Persians from invading the mainland and supplying provisions to the army facing the 300 Spartans defending the pass at Thermopylae. The Persian fleet was defeated there at Artemisium and finally destroyed at the Battle of Salamis a year later. Skiathos remained in the Delian League until it lost its independence. The city was destroyed by Philip V of Macedon in 200 BC.
In 1207 the Ghisi brothers captured the island and built the Bourtzi, a small Venetian-styled fortress similar to the Bourtzi in Nafplio, on an islet just out of Skiathos Town, to protect the capital from the pirates. But the Bourtzi was ineffective in protecting the population and in the mid-14th century the inhabitants moved the capital from the ancient site that lay where modern Skiathos Town is to Kastro (the Greek word for castle), located on a high rock, overlooking a steep cliff above the sea at the northernmost part of the island. The island returned to Byzantine control in the 1270s, and remained in Byzantine hands until after the Fall of Constantinople in 1453, when it passed to the Republic of Venice. Like the rest of the Northern Sporades, Skiathos was conquered by the Ottoman admiral Hayreddin Barbarossa in 1538.
In 1704 monks from Athos built the Evangelistria Monastery, which played a part on the Greek War of Independence as a hide-out for Greek rebels. The first flag of Greece was created and hoisted in the Evangelistria Monastery in Skiathos in 1807, where several prominent military leaders (including Theodoros Kolokotronis and Andreas Miaoulis) had gathered for consultation concerning an uprising, and they were sworn to this flag by the local bishop.