WHAT TO VISIT IN SKIATHOS?
Alexander Papadiamantis’ Museum
If you arrive in Skiathos by plane, you will land at the airport Alexandros Papadiamantis. If you walk the streets of the town, you will soon discover that the main street is also known as Alexander Papadiamantis. If you ask the inhabitants what you should visit in their island, one of the first sites they will mention to you is “to spiti tou Papadiamanti” “the house of Papadiamantis”.
And then, as most of the tourists coming to Skiathos, you will ask youself : “But … who is this Alexander Papadiamantis?”
The Greeks will hardly believe it and the people of Skiathos will be outraged, yet we must admit that for many non-Greeks, the name means nothing … Papadiamantis…
For you who will go to Skiathos and want to soak up the island and its culture, here are some vital information that will perhaps give another dimension to your trip.
Alexander Papadiamantis, born in Skiathos in 1851 and died on this island in 1911, is a major writer of Greek literature of the 19th century. Great admirer of European writers and playwrights such as Victor Hugo and Shakespeare, he was one of the founders of the modern novel and the new romantic inspiration in Greece.
He left the island in his youth to study philosophy and literature in Athens, worked as a journalist and translator, publishing his stories in newspapers and spending his money lavishly.
He did not return to Skiathos until the the end of his life. The excessive drinking and lack of sleep had ruined his health and he died of pneumonia at the age of 60.
The house where he was born no longer exists today, but the one where he died is nestled on a tiny charming place, not far from the street that bears his name. It was converted into a museum and can be visited. It is a small building, very austere, almost monastic, like this writer, the son of pope, raised in poverty and the fear of God, who loved writing and singing in church, who never got married and that was nicknamed “the monk in the world.”
Author of numerous short novels, Papadiamantis evokes the life of low-income families in the island, such as farmers, sailors and fishermen and often gets involved in his stories as an observer. His writings give an lucid but poetic image, where descriptions of rural life in Skiathos, or urban life in the poorest neighborhoods of Athens mingle with moments of deep philosophical reflection on the human condition. Nostalgia for the island of his childhood is palpable in almost all his work.
It is tinged with melancholy, a deep Christian Orthodox faith and empathy for the suffering of human kind.
Those who speak (very) good Greek may know already that Papadiamantis wrote in a difficult language named “katharevousa”, but the dialogues are in popular language, called demotic or in dialect, when Islanders are talking.
Of course, the short novels of Papadiamantis were translated into English (you can find translations on site) and although they are often tragic and tinged with infinite sadness, it is interesting to discover the work of this author during a stay on his island.
One of the writings considered the masterpiece of Papadiamantis called “Little girls and death” (translation of Greek title that is actually “the killer”), whose central figure is a formidable sixty-year old woman , Yannou, as fascinating as terrifying.
While staying with her sick granddaughter, Yannou – also named Francoyannou or Khadoula in the story – reflects on her life of misery, her forced marriage and dishonored by unworthy offspring, she discovered that night that she ” had never done that to live in bondage. ” The revelation of the submission leads to a deeper reflection on the status of women in society, the female child is doomed to become the slave of her husband and to the misfortune of his parents that he will be a dowry. Thus, Francoyannou , in order to protect her grandchild from a life of domesticity commits an irreparable crime and strangles the baby…
So, I hope that thanks to this visit, you will discover Skiathos in a different light, beyond tourism, beaches and vacation rentals and perhaps you will be curious to discover the wild beauty of our island in the winter …
Alexander Papadiamantis‘ Museum is one of the answers to the question “What to visit in Skiathos”.