Houses in the Greek islands
Cycladic architecture is famous for its uniqueness and charm. When you visit a Cycladic town or village for the first time, you may have the feeling that you are inside an enchanting stage set.
The streets are characteristically paved with whitewash-outlined polygonal or rectangular flagstones. The pattern of the flagstones is usually adapted to fit along the outsides of the buildings, which are of two main styles: narrow-facade (“stenometopo”) and broad-facade (“evrymetopo”). Buildings on the same block are most likely to be in the same style, with similar features. Therefore, a row of narrow-facade houses will have approximately the same dimensions and the same design. The houses usually have two storeys, with an outside staircase that allows separate access to the upper storey from the street.
The outside staircase exists regardless of whether the house is used as a single-family dwelling or two separate families individually own the ground floor and upper storey.
Separate ownership of individual floors is a popular tradition in the Cyclades, dating centuries back. It apparently started because of the lack of space within the fortified settlements, but it satisfied other needs too, as the lack of storage spaces.
The exteriors of Cycladic buildings are simple and unembellished, whitewashed, with only a few windows and
a particular type of roof, which comes in three variations: vaulted, inclined, or pitched. For the most part, Cycladic houses resemble connected stark-white cubes.
The interior of the houses is also similar, with only minor variations from island to island. The inside space is divided into two unequal sections by a kind of platform, 1-2 meters high and up to 3 meters wide, extending either the length or width of the house. This platform is called, alternately, “krevatos” (bed), “kraatos” or “sofas” (couch) depending on the locale. The furnishings, which are impressive for their aesthetics refinement and usefulness, are in total harmony with the decoration and architecture of the house. The interior decor consists of small cabinets, the “stamnos” (water jug) stand, trunks to store clothing, wardrobes, icon stands, wooden-carved chests, as well as a variety of furniture built into the walls.
Perched on cliff-sides, with an economy of space ensured by native ingenuity, these single or two-storeyed houses blend with church facades, fountains, windmills to compose pictures seen nowhere else in the world.
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