Schoinousa is a serene Aegean shelter for calm vacations and romantic moments. Its laced coasts, one better than the other, give to visitors a flavour from the magic immense light blue. The white houses, built with the simple Cycladic architecture are the stars of the small island, while equally enchanting are its picturesque streets, and its gardens with palms as well as the harbour, which is famous as one of the best shelters of the Aegean.
Schoinousa is found south of Naxos and north-east of Irakleia. It has an extent of 9,5 sq. miles and a population of 220 residents in the two settlements of Schoinousa (Panagia) and Messaria.
Schoinousa owes its name to the bushy plant “schinos” that flourishes in its ground. Another version supports that the name came from the name of a Venetian sovereign who was called Schinoza and at the period of the Frankish occupation, had a tower on the island.
Schoinousa has a temperate and cool climate without abrupt changes. Many times over you feel that the period of summer remains all year long. The harbour of the island is Mersini, which is famous as one of the best shelters for small ships in the whole Aegean.Residents deal with agriculture, livestock-farming, fishery and tourism. Panagia, the capital of the island abstains from the harbour 1200 m. and is built on a hill, because in the old days the island suffered raids of pirates, so the residents had greater visibility to the sea from up there and it would be difficult for invaders to surprise them. Everything here is friendly and hospitable: characteristic Cycladic houses that are decorated with basil and flower bushes, whitewashed streets and smiling residents.
The port of Hora is the windless Mirsini on the south-western coast of the island, which is considered one of the safest shelters of small ships in the Aegean Sea. There are several houses, two good fish taverns and the white chapel of Agios Nikolaos in the small bay.
Second settlement of Schoinousa is Mesaria, located in the hinterland of the island.
Even if few things are known from its history, it is certified that it was inhabited since antiquity. In the Byzantine years, it presented rich commercial activity as testified by the abundant ceramic findings and the crowd of destroyed Byzantine churches (Agios Yannis, Agios Antonios, Profitis Ilias, Stavros, Agia Triada).
Later Schoinousa became a base of operations for pirates. The bays Mirsini,Sifneiko, Lioliou, Bazaiou, Gerolimniona were their dens. During Ottoman domination, the island was depopulated and came under the property of the Chozoviotissa Monastery of Amorgos. With liberation after the Greek revolution, Monastery monks installed families from Amorgos in the island and thus Schoinousa began once again to be inhabited. The newcomers of the island began to cultivate the ground, to raise animals, to fish and to build. Despite the unfavourable conditions,residents accomplished to develop commercial relations with the surrounding islands, they founded a school for their children and churches for their religious needs. However,isolation as well as economic social and educational needs, forced a big part of the population to seek a better life abroad. Today, relaxed life of the island, growth of the tourist sector and the creation of a High school, have contributed in keeping residents and in particular the young people on the island.
The central settlement of Schoinousa is Panagia, built on a hill in the interior of the island, from where the view embraces the surrounding islands and is lost in light blue Aegean Sea. Everything here is friendly and hospitable: characteristic are its Cycladic houses which are decorated by basils and flower bushes. In the centre of Hora, we find the church of Eisodia of Theotokou , where the famous icon of Panagia of Akathi, protector of the island is kept, with a rare depiction of Panagia from the “Akathistos Anthem”. In Hora, visitors will find lodgings, places for good food and drink and night centres with live traditional music, while for those who love night life, there is a bar outside of the settlement.
Two of the most important churches of the island are: The church of Panagia of Akathi, which hosts an icon with a rare representation of the “Akathistos Anthem” and the church of Evaggelismos of Panagia in Mesaria.
In the private Folklore Museum you will see traditional costumes, agricultural tools, old pictures and other very interesting exhibits.
To the beaches of Schoinousa you will go on foot, without needing more than 20 minutes. The sandy beach of Piso Ammos has two coffee-restaurants, where you can try the tasty dishes and relax while drinking your coffee with a view to the immense light blue. Equally beautiful is the sandy beach in the Tsigkouri region, where you can find two coffee-restaurants.
In the spotless beach of Chochlakia with the thick pebbles you will enjoy the sun and the sea. It is good to bring water and provisions with you, because there are no shops near.
The isolated sandy beaches of Agios Vasilios and Fidou are not accessible and the only way to reach them is by boat, but you will be rewarded by the spectacle of the attractive turquoise waters.In the region of Alygaria, you will also find some splendid small sandy beaches, without shops.
To those who like the combination of pebble and sand, you can visit the long beach of Liolios, where the landscape changes from sandy to rocky and the water is always crystal clear.
You can go on foot to the sandy beaches of Almiro, Fountana, Fykio and Gero Limnionas. A small castle dominates in the Fountana region, whose historical identity remains unknown up to today. Psili Ammos is one from the most beautiful of the island and the magic that it emits to the visitor is owed to the fact that its sand covers the whole hill.
Local products / recipes
Schoinousa produces fava, vegetables (fresh beans, cucumbers, melons, and plum tomatoes), sesame, figs, wheat, barley, olives and grapes. All these products are sold either in shops of the island or directly by the producers.
Schoinousa is also famous for its exceptionally animal and agricultural products – veal, pork, kid, ladotyri, xinotyro, kopanisti and fava- which you can find in the local shops.
Popular dishes of the island are the octopus giouvetsi, fresh fish and the well-known patatato (meat in the saucepan with potatoes and herbs). Do not miss to try the cheese pies with mizithra, snails cooked in the traditional way and kopanisti while for dessert you can select the traditional melitinia.
On Easter, they cook lamb stuffed with rice and herbs in the wood oven and they serve melitinia (cheese pies with mizithra, egg and sugar), while at weddings and in feasts, they serve nougat with honey, xerotigana and rakomelo.
How to arrive: Mersini is regularly connected with Piraeus and daily with Naxos, Amorgos and the rest of the Small Cyclades islands with “EXPRESS SKOPELITIS” Tel. 0030 22850 22300.
Port Authority of Piraeus, Tel. 0030 210 4226000-4, 0030 210 4593140
Port Authority of Katapola Tel. 0030 22850 71259,
Port Authority of Naxos Tel. 0030 2285 22300
Rent a moto:
Faros Bikes: Tel. 0030 2285071630, 0030 6944 742434, 0030 6977 366853
PORT AUTHORITY OF NAXOS Tel. 0030 22850-22300
MUNICIPAL AUTHORITY Tel. 0030 22850-71170
HEALTH CENTRES Tel. 0030 22850-71385
Sources: www.cyclades-tour.gr, www.schinousa.com, www.schinousa.gr