A few words about Sendoukia Graves in Skopelos

Sendoukia Graves in Skopelos is one of the most magnificent sites to visit while in Skopelos. Even though it takes some effort to find them, it will certainly make your day. Choose a nice, clear day and start as early as you can. In summertime, this can be as early as 5 am, or as late as 7 pm. There are 3 Neolithic sarcophagi on a slope of Mount Delfi. You can consider them as mysterious in purpose, as the stories that surround them. Read all about this fascinating place further down.

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How to get to Sendoukia Graves in Skopelos

[T]he ancient site of mystic Sendoukia in Skopelos is located on top of the second highest peak of Skopelos. It is also the tribute name for our Country Villa Sendoukia. The site is in the area of Karya and just below the old settlement of 'Avgeri' and the Observatory Tower. You do not have to be a really strong hiker to actually walk there from the premises. You can start early in the morning, (to avoid the intense summer heat), or later in the afternoon.  If you walk from Skopelos Country Villas, you can reach it in about 45 minutes with a steady pace.

Alternatively, you can easily drive there. It is 1.8Km to the three way crossroad. When you reach this take a left and follow the sign for Sendoukia. This country road is unpaved but quite smooth. The distance you need to drive on is approximately 600 meters. You will reach a point where the road forks into two directions. One is pointing you downwards, (this is the road you have been driving on). The other, pointing to the left and further up the mountain. Just stop on the left, where the sign that marks the beginning of Sendoukia trail is. There is also a wooden bench here that you can use as a landmark to avoid missing the spot.

The Hike to Sendoukia Graves

The trail itself is approximately 20 minutes, and nature is at its best here. You will be walking upwards among Pine trees. The subtle aroma of the Pine trees will be a euphoric companion. Due to formation of the terrain here, (mostly rocky at the top), you can see a variety of beautiful wild flowers. Some of them indigenous to Skopelos.  You will also glimpse a diverse species of butterfly, caterpillars, harmless spiders and maybe the occasional snake. It is advisable to always have a walking stick and if you don't have a proper hiking one, you can always use one of nature's lying around.

It is important to follow a series of red dots that you will see on top of rocks as you make your way upwards into the mountain. These will eventually lead you to the site. If you miss these marks, it can be quite easy to venture off in a different direction. If you find that you ended up on the opposite side of the mountain, don't panic. You will eventually meet a road and the way back to the base of the mountain. You can also hear the sound of goat bells in the near distance. This is another source to follow and find your way back.  

The last leg of the trail to Sendoukia

When reach the top of the trail, you will immediately notice its rocky terrain. Bare in mind that you are heading straight ahead for about 10 minutes, (or approximately 200 meters). You will reach a point that seems as the end of the trail. Don't be tempted to veer off towards the left. All you need to do is walk gently downwards to your right and you will immediately be taken aback from the panoramic views to the East, the site of the sarcophagi, and the great vibes this place offers to you.

So What is this place?

[T]here are many different scenarios and theories as to what they may exactly be and what purpose the site served. Until today the only official archaeological mention of this place is by renowned Greek archeologist Adamantios Sampson. These Neolithic sarcophagi date back to at least 500 B.C, and it is the oldest reference of the island that you will come across. You will find three tomb like structures, completely rock-cut into a granite bed-rock.

The largest grave measures 6.5 feet by 3.5 feet and about 2.5 feet deep – while the others are similar. They are all positioned in a quite small area and there is another rectangular depression of the same size, but only an inch or so deep - a grave which was started but never completed.

They are positioned near the top of the hill and its slope towards the East, (what you will see as the end of the trail), with excellent panoramic views to the south of the island and to the neighbouring island of Alonnisos. All sarcophagi have an East-West orientation, and especially their eastern orientation strongly supports their Christian origin. Each of these three complete tombs has a huge megalithic covering stone, set over it at an angle - so that there is room to step down into the tomb if you so wish to do so.

One of the most amazing and enigmatic qualities of this place (I’m sure you will agree with me when you see the site), is the enormous effort that was put to chisel away the tombs and flatten the lower surface of the lids. There are also well-made grooves and ridges on the matching edges of tomb and lid, which must have fitted perfectly when they were in use.

Theories for Sendoukia Graves

As mentioned before, there are a few scenarios in regards to this site and its precise usage. The most popular one is that of the site being a secret burial site for mythical treasures from the times where the island of Skopelos was being pretty much under siege of pirates and specifically the most fearsome of them all: the Algerian “Barbarossa”. As the legend has it, the pirates hid into these tombs their chests of treasures, and according to the older generations of locals (my grandparents), there is a 5th tomb, hidden somewhere around the area so secretly, that anyone who manages to discover it and open it will unearth one of the biggest treasures discovered in modern history.

The local myth also said that if you were the “chosen” one to discover this 5th tomb, you would dream of its precise location. This would happen the night before from the big discovery. However you could not speak to anyone about it (not even your family). If you did, the treasure, would simply turn into coal. I still remember to this day being terrified as a kid that I would dream of this treasure and would have to go by myself in the middle of the night to unearth it. Many visitors have actually been seen going to the site with metal detectors and try hard to detect the mythical treasure.

Ancient Rituals

The second of the most notable scenarios, and one that I am a strong believer of, is that the site was used for some kind of “Initiation” to ancient rituals, and that its tombs where the “Initiation Chambers”. This seems true considering the location of the site (the second highest peak of the island 580 m), its panoramic views (on a clear day it feels like you can touch the sky), and finally, the size and length of the tombs, people were significantly smaller the generation of modern humans today.

No matter how many times I have been there, both as a child and later in life, there is always a great feeling, (a vibe), about being there. A sense of well being and feeling of grandeur when looking over the island vista views. We hope you feel the same.

Sendoukia tombs-pictures

Map route for Sendoukia tombs

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