The National Marine Park of Alonissos Northern Sporades is a unique combination of terrestrial and marine Mediterranean habitats with hundreds of plant and animal species, as well as remarkable archaeological and historical monuments.
Alonissos took its name after its release from the Ottoman Turks. In ancient times it was called Ikos, while Alonissos was probably called the neighboring island of Kyra Panagia.
In the Paleolithic period, Alonissos is believed to have been united with the rest of the Sporades and Thessaly. In Kokkinokastro, Alonissos, tools and fossil bones have been found since the Mesolithic period. On the island of Kyra Panagia, samples of settlement from the Neolithic period were found.
According to history and tradition, Ikos was colonized by Cretans, led by mythical hero Stafylos, in the 16th century BC, at the time of the Minoan seaside colony. It is believed that since that time the cultivation of olive trees and vineyard began. Over time the Minoan colony has acquired a Mycenaean character. Mycenaean findings were found in Kokkinokastro and neighboring Peparithos (modern Skopelos).
By the end of the Mycenaean era, Peleus (Achilles father), came to Ikos and lived there until his death. It is believed to have been buried on the island.
In 476 BC the island entered the Athenian Alliance. During the Classical period, the geographer Scylax named the island Dipolis (having two cities). These two cities were likely to be located nearby modern Kokkinokastro and in the today’s Old Village of Alonissos, respectively. At that time the island became well-known throughout the ancient world for its vineyards and excellent wine. Local wine was exported in amphorae bearing the inscription “IKION” on one of their handles. Also, the numerous ancient shipwrecks found in the surrounding area, confirm the fact that the island was one of the most important seaway passages of the ancient world.
In 190 BC, a Roman fleet conquered Alonissos and since then there have been no written testimonies about the history of the island. The Veneti conquered the island in 1207 AD and ruled it until 1276 AD. This year Alonissos became again a Byzantine province until 1453 AD when the inhabitants offered their island to the Veneti for fear of a possible Turkish domination. In 1538 AD the Turks destroyed the island, which remained under their submission until 1821 AD. During the Greek War of Independence, Alonissos helped in the struggle by contributing ships and sailors.
A landmark in the history of the island is the strong earthquakes of 1965, in which the Old Village was deserted and later abandoned. Its inhabitants today live in Patitiri, while Old Village rebuilt by locals and foreigners and has become a gorgeous, idyllic traditional village.
Traditional weddings are of particular interest. The wedding ritual begins with the best man visiting the groom’s house accompanied by traditional musicians, where they receive treats such as sweets, wine, and tsipouro. They all then go together to the bride’s house. The door, however, shall not open until the groom promises a gift to his future mother-in-law. With a promise made to the mother-in-law, families and friends join the wedding procession to the church. The bride wears a traditional dress called “MORKA”. After the ceremony, a browned goat with pasta dish is served to the guests and the wedding party continues until the early morning hours. The traditional wedding revival is celebrating every year on August 15th.
The patron saint of the island is Agia Paraskevi. Every year, on July 25th, the night locals and visitors in Patitiri lead together the icon of Agia Paraskevi to a pious procession throughout the village in the evening.
In mid-July, during the period of Alonia, in the Old Village of Alonissos, there is a representation of the threshing floor and visitors can make traditional trahanas from cracked wheat.
At the end of July, the fisherman’s night is organized, with caught fishes grilled on charcoal fires and plenty of free wine.
During the first days of September, in the port of Patitiri, Patitiria are taking place, where in large “masteles” (wide barrels), visitors can participate by pressing the grapes in the production of grape must and wine. All visitors are given the opportunity to taste the well-known mustalevria, traditional Greek kind of pudding made of grape must.
Since 1992, the Municipality of Alonissos has been organizing “Kalogiania”, which are athletic events with the participation of many athletes from all the islands of Northern Sporades. An important sporting event in Alonissos is the International Marathon that takes place in the first days of June each year since 2004.