Focus on Hydra
Map of Hydra Island
A special word to the short-term-visitors of Hydra
Mansions: "archontika"
Ancient findings at Chorisa
The sailors of Hydra
Koula: My Life as a Shepherdess
The life of a carpenter on Hydra
A recipe for "Fava"
Giorgos: The Life of a Hydriote Stone Mason
The Monastery of the Assumption of the Mother of God ("Theotokou")
The "Albanians" on Hydra
Iannis Gavalas tells about the special beauty of Vlychos/Episkopi
The Driopes
The Feast of the Blooming Almond Tree
The Song of the Blooming Almond Tree
HIKE  10
"Kyria Maria the Candle-Maker"
Iannis Gavalas about the life of a donkey man on Hydra
HIKE  11
HIKE  12
Tassos and the Sea
The book
Anna Barry

Mansions: "archontika"
One of the striking features of Hydra's architecture are the traditional lords' mansions, the "archontika". The houses of the wealthy admirals and ship owners of the 18th and 19th centuries epitomize this grand style. Genoese and Venetian architects were commissioned to build the "archontika", the assumption being that Italian culture and craftsmanship were the acme of good taste.
"Archontika" can also be seen elsewhere in Greece, but the drama of their amphitheatrical arrangement in the harbor of Hydra is quite unique. The "archontika" are a far cry from the simple traditional Greek houses in the way they were constructed as well as decorated. The owners themselves brought back precious objects and furnishings collected on their extensive travels. Historical documents and old ships' records, lamps and logbooks are often found in the "archontika". Althought the public has had little access to these houses so far, there are now quite a few which you can visit:
  • The "archontiko Pavlou Koundourioti", a strikingly yellow-ochre building next to the famous church of "Ypapanti", has recently been restored, taking the visitor back into the days when the Koundouriotis family lived here.
  • The Naval Academy has its premises at the "Tsamados" mansion above the docks for ships and hydrofoils, and the Historical Museum of Hydra ("Archeio Hydras") is housed in the mansion nearby.
  • The "archontiko Tombasi" on the western slope above the harbor has housed the School of Fine Arts, many Greek and foreign artists, and the Children's Painting School of Hydra.
  • The "Rafalias" mansion - a few minutes inland in the middle of "chora" - functions as a pharmacy still inhabited by the original family, whereas the "archontiko" in front of it has been made into a hotel, the "Xenia Hydroussa".
  • On the inland road from Vlychos to Kamini, which is actually named after Nikos Chatsikyriakos-Gkikas, the famous Greek painter, you will marvel at the imposing ruins of his mansion, which extend far above and below the road, shortly before the village of Upper Kamini. Nikos Chatsikyriakos-Gkikas had made his home into an informal cultural center: in the fifties, many famous artists and writers met and worked in this house, among them Henry Miller. After a ravaging fire at the end of the sixties, Nikos Ch.-Gkikas never set foot on the island of Hydra again, and the once magnificent building sadly lies in ruins.

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