Small Cyclades: Schoinoussa Island


Schoinoussa, a small island with an area of 8 square kilometers, is one of the islands in the Small Cyclades group. It lies south of Naxos and northeast of Irakleia. The islands population reaches the 206 inhabitants approximately.

Schoinoussa offers connections to Piraeus, with the sea journey lasting between seven and nine hours. Through an intra-Cyclades boat network, there are weekly connections (Mondays) to Syros, about nine hours, and daily connections to Naxos.

There are two settlements on Schoinoussa, Chora and Messaria. Hora is built on a slight elevation in the island’s interior and is 1.2 kilometers from the port at Mersini, one of the Aegean’s best natural harbors for small boats. Messaria is three kilometers from Hora.

Schoinoussa’s inhabitants make a living from farming, fishing, and tourism. The island recommends itself for a relaxing, laid-back holiday. The island’s serenity, the vast blue expanse of sea surrounding it, and locals’ warm hospitality soothe body and soul so visitors can enjoy the land and its people. Schoinoussa has sufficient tourism infrastructure to meet visitors’ needs and provide modern comforts.

Schoinoussa has been inhabited since antiquity. In local lore, it takes its name from the junipers (in Greek, Schoinos) shrubs covering the island. By another account, it’s named after the Venetian noble Schinoza.

Archaeological finds suggests involvement in the creation of the First-Cycladic Civilization that developed around neighboring Keros.

Large quantities of ceramics found in ruins of Byzantine temples suggest extensive trade activity on the island during this period. Throughout history, the island was abandoned as its inhabitants fled to escape pirate raids.

The island has been continuously inhabited since the mid-19th century when it was settled by families from Amorgos.

Schoinoussa among the wonderful wild scenery offers also a few sights of interest like: The Eisodia Theotokou Church (Presentation of the Virgin) in Hora and the icon of the Panayia Akathis, which is believed to have miraculous powers. The Church of Evangelismos at Messaria. As well as the Peiratis (Pirate) Cave along the road leading to the port.

Schoinoussa is also well know about the big variety of wonderful beaches, sandy or pebble that can be found all over the island.

Mersini, Tsiggouri and Livadi Bay are found on the southern side of the island.  While the Agios Vassilis , The Alygaria , Lioliou beach, the Vazaiou and Almyros beach are situated on the eastern side of the island. On the northern shores of the island is to be found the beaches like Psili Ammos, Fykiogero  & Limenas.  While Sifneiko bay is to be found on the western side of the island.

The panigiri of Evangelismos tis Theotokou (Assumption of the Virgin) on March 25 is taking place at Messaria with a parade, school theater performance, and the offering of food in the church courtyard.

The feast of the Panayia Akathis, a moveable feast, is observed on the day after the least Friday of Salutations of the Virgin. After services, food is offered in the church courtyard, where musicians perform traditional island music.

The Schoinoussa Association organizes cultural events each year on August 12-14, featuring traditional dance performances, traditional music, and a photography exhibit.

The celebration of the Koimissis tis Theotokou (Dormition of the Virgin) is observed on August 15 with the offering of food in the church hall, followed by traditional dancing in the town’s taverns that evening.

The feast of Ayios Nikolaos on December 6th  at the chapel located by the lighthouse (faros). Pilgrims arrive by fishing boats from the harbor and are welcomed with fried cod and a thick garlic sauce, served in the chapel courtyard.

On Easter Sunday, local people are gathering in the main square to play “bilious”, a traditional game similar to bowling or the French boules.

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