Climbing Skaros Rock! Santorini’s Legendary Caldera Fortress Is A Hidden, Terrifying Hike!

Welcome To Santorini’s Greatest Photo Op!

Yes, this was the view from our room on the Greek island of Santorini: photo shoots that took place all day and night: a parade of women wearing colorful flowing gowns, or couples posing with the impressive Skaros Rock as a backdrop…and you know what? You can climb that rock as well – if you dare!

See those brave souls on top of it? Skaros Rock rises over 500 feet high, perched on the edge of the town of Imerovigli, which itself is perched on the edge of Santorini’s famous “Caldera”, the shell of what was once a massive volcano….here’s an idea of what we saw every day from our room:

If you were wondering where “paradise” was, this just may be it…one of the most beautiful places in the world, with daily sunsets that look like this:

So of course, the moment Alex saw Skaros Rock, she said:

“We have to climb that!”

And so our adventure began!

Skaros was one of the five fortified settlements on Santorini. The rock was inhabited in medieval times, because the fortress constructed there offered protection from pirates.

To climb the rock, you first have to exit our hotel and hike down to the base of the rock…it’s something that hundreds of people do every day:

The original castle was known as ‘Epano Kastro’ (Upper castle in Greek) or ‘La Roka’ – it was originally built in the later Byzantine years by the Venetian Giacomo Barozzi. The first Duke of Naxos Marco Sanudo gave Santorini to Giacomo Barozzi in the year of 1207.

Once you hike down the hillside and cross over onto the rock, it’s a small incline until you reach a fork that takes you left or right…we headed left and found ourselves at the back of the rock – about a third of the way up:

Skaros rock today is totally uninhabited with the exception of a small church, the Chapel of Agios Ioannis Apokefalistheis, on its north side.

You can clearly see the far side of the caldera and the town of Oia in the wide shot…and from the back, this is what the rock looks like – with virtually no path visible for continuing upward…

Alex led the way higher and higher, but from here, we had a hard time finding any sort of trail that would take us to the top – until I discovered this slot canyon:

This was 30+ feet of sheer rock face – I made it about half way, and even with the sky peering through above, didn’t think this could possibly be the way that so many people made it up to the top…it was treacherous!

This is what was left to climb – there didn’t seem to be anywhere to go – until we saw a couple coming down from the top!

Yep, you can only get to the top of the rock by “scaling” a sheer vertical rock face of about 30 feet…

Yes, this is vertical – and you have to use these rocks as your “steps” to climb blindly straight up…I couldn’t take any pictures as I needed to hold on tight as I pulled myself up one slow foot wedge at a time – and yes, it was as scary as it looks but we did it!

Here’s a look at what you see from the top!

I saw someone actually navigate this sliver of path onto the small piece of rock jutting out…no thank you!

From the top, we looked back at our hotel, The Grace, and the small town of Imerovigli as well:

We were pointing into the sun, which was just cresting over the caldera…you have to go early in the day because it was already 80 degrees and within the hour it would top 90 in direct, hot sun!

Now, back to that “slot canyon” I tried to climb:

You actually can climb through it to the top, and Alex briefly considered going back down that way, but it was simply too steep and slippery!

So, we “backed” back down the 30+ feet of sheer rock face – once down, here is what we had to navigate backwards!

If you want to know just how high the rock is, this is a view of the rock from our catamaran the following day – you can see the chapel on the side of it – and our small down on the right as well:

Well, it was a wild adventure, one of many we had in our trip to The Acropolis in Athens:

The Parthenon was incredible to see up close, and you can see for yourself by clicking on my story here, with lots of video too:

I also shared our incredible meal when we were on the island of Mykonos:

Acclaimed Chef Jason Atherton and his team really knew how to creative culinary magic – see the entire review here:

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If you enjoy these moments, please share on social media – and get ready for more Greek adventures….let me know if you’ve been!

Categories: Exotic Travel, Memoirs, nature, Sports, Travel, Travel Adventures, Travel Memoir

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

30 replies

  1. Hi John,

    It looks like you and Alex had an amazing trip in Greece! I did too. I met you guys on the ferry to Mykonos. Alex was written about in some article I was reading and it led me to your blog. I’m the teacher who lives in San Francisco. I just wanted to say hi. I loved Greece and can’t wait to go back. Perhaps will bump into each other again on a ferry in the sea.


    Marcie Cain Dobbs 🌺

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I missed this when we were away, John. Well done to you both for scaling that last part. I think that at my age, I would have had to say ‘no’.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. What A fabulous vacation you are having! The rock must have made you feel like a small child and in wonder. Maria’s comment about Smith Rock is my closest comparison to Skaros. Your photos are spectacular. Thank you! Please ask Alex where she got her t-shirt, as that is one of the big points I always make. I need that t-shirt. 🙂


  4. I don’t think I would’ve wanted to climb that last bit without a safety rope, John. Well done to you and Alex. An amazing place to visit, the views are spectacular.


  5. Amazing trip! I love how you guys just go for it.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. WoW!! you two are amazing. Love the view. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. omg, you two are so brave! santorini is one of my dream places to visit

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for commenting! It is spectacular: we walked 5 miles to the town of Oia – along the volcanic ridge – will be posting that, as well as the sunsets which were spectacular as well! Thanks for commenting!


  8. We climbed something similar at Smith Rock in CentralOregon. I don’t mind up, but down is not nearly as fun. One of my students was trying to get a cell signal to call a helicopter for us!
    We live to tell the tale.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Angels Landing and now this? Awesome views but honestly it wouldn’t have occurred to me to climb that rock! 😁



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