Greek islands with unique architecture
It happens almost every summer: Your social media timeline gets packed
with little cubed houses in white and blue, bougainvillea, medieval arches and
colorful boats. Yes, we are talking about some of the most distinctive
elements of architecture found on the Greek islands, captivating their
visitors. The history of each region, as it is written in the books, but also
as narrated by the inhabitants, pirate attacks, years and years of foreign
occupation, they have all placed a little stone on the creation of what we now
know and love about the islands, and most of the times recognize instantly
from just one image, like the village of Klima in Milos. Some have also been a
great source of inspiration for great artists of architecture such as the
famous Le Corbusier who fell in love with the crisp cubism of Mykonos many
On your next trip, try to acknowledge all the elements that make the Greek islands become an example of architecture and find their place in special features of international design magazines. Compare prices, find the route that suits you and book cheap ferry tickets through Let’s Ferry.
Ios, Naxos, Tzia: Homes built over cobblestones
Ios, Naxos and Tzia have one thing in common: Many of the islands’ houses, instead of extending upwards, continue their floorplans over the cobbled streets. This extension looks like an arch over the street, and it is called "sheltered" or "stigadi". This invention started mainly due to the lack of space and you will only find it in very narrow alleys. One village that is completely covered with stigadia is Koronos in Naxos, while the other two islands feature the same feature scattered around their Choras. Such constructions were a last resort for poor families, but today they make up for a beautiful scenery, adorned with jasmine, evening primrose or bougainvillea.
Corfu: With the essence of Venice
The four decades that the Venetian rule lasted influenced the architecture, dialect and culture of the Ionian islands. One of the most characteristic examples is the island of Phaeacians that the Venetians occupied from 1386 to 1797. It was then that the green Spianada Square expanded and nestled in its current shape but also when the New Fortress was built on the hill of Agios Markos. Drawings of the era show that the Old Town of Corfu has remained almost unchanged over time. With less of a Byzantine and more of a medieval style, the buildings in the historic center are high, built next to each other, with elaborate details.
Historical center of Corfu
Milos: The island with the "wires"
The volcanic island of the Cyclades with its incredible beaches, has one thing in common with its sophisticated neighbor, Kimolos: The wires. We are not talking about metal ones, but the famous colored houses on the sea. They usually belong to fishermen and their most distinct feature is their big, wide doors that each winter keep the boats dry until next summer. Many locals choose to rent these houses in the summer, to tourists who want to live a more traditional experience. In Milos, you will find such colorful houses in Klima and Firopotamos, while the best place for Wires is Kimolos is Goupa.
Klima in Milos
Rhodes: Casually medieval style
Although you will come across many influences from the Ottoman and Byzantine empires on the island, the one that actually prevails is the architecture of the Renaissance. The presence of the Order of the Knights in the 14th century played a big role in this. It is no coincidence that the Old Town of Rhodes, with its stone cobbled streets and Gothic towers, is one of the most well-preserved ones in Europe. It has been protected as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO since 1989. Excellent examples of the style are the Palace of the Grand Master, the Knights Street and the Knights' Hospital.
Palace of the Grand Master in Rhodes
Symi: Neoclassical color palette
Since 1971, the tiny Dodecanese island has been designated as a protected settlement. The colorful captain's houses are the first ones you will bump into as soon as you arrive at the port of Symi, in the settlement of Gialos. The houses are 2 or 3 floors high and among their common elements are the roof, the pebbled courtyards with mosaics, the whitewashed gables, the colored windows and the triangular tiled roofs. Colors such as lilac, brown and ocher give the buildings their neoclassical character.
The colorful captain's houses in Symi island
Santorini: The cave kingdom
Volcanic, mysterious, cosmic, vibrant, inexhaustible. The cave houses of the island are one of the elements that make it stand out, each time you visit. Many have recently turned into luxury accommodations but originally, they were homes for the poor island inhabitants. We are basically talking about houses that look like caves and domes, built inside and protected by the earth. These homes are very resilient when it comes to earthquakes and extreme temperatures. The living room and the bedrooms were built under the earth, while the kitchen and the toilet were placed in separate rooms, outside the house. At the edge of the Caldera, in Fira and Oia, you will find some of the best ones. Choose to stay in a cave house next time you book cheap ferry tickets to Santorini via Let’s Ferry.
White houses in Santorini island
Chios: The village with the sculpted facades
A unique spectacle awaits you on the delicious island of the Dodecanese. In the village of Pyrgi, the houses have engraved facades, creating unique, black and white geometric shapes. This medieval technique is said to have been imported from Italy and the whole "painted village", as it is widely known, has been declared a protected area. You will find this technique in houses, arches, churches, under balconies, in public services and in shops. The village is 25 km from the port of Chios and you can reach it by car or bus.
Traditional houses in Chios
Walking around on the island cobblestones is one of the best pastimes when you visit them. Loose your gaze on architectural environments that look like they are pages torn out from a book and recognize the unique architecture of each place. But first, explore each destination and book cheap ferry tickets online with Let’s Ferry.