As if rising from the heart of the Aegean sea, the island of Mykonos resembles a sculptured masterpiece shaped through the centuries by the granite, dirt, rocks and lime buried in its soil. A cluster of iconic structures that come together cohesively as a natural extend of the surrounding landscape, as square blocks of Tetris finding their place next to one another without leaving any gaps. Although a characteristic sample of the Cycladic architecture, the architecture of Mykonos differs from the rest, being a primeval architectural model reflecting the very nature of its being.
The Inevitable Structure
Mykonos island used to be dotted with numerous castles whose remains still echo the spates of pirate attacks. Naturally influenced by the pirate raids, the residents began to build their homes almost on top of each other forming a very dense layout with narrow alleys that helped them feel sheltered and protected. The adverse weather conditions, the strong winds, the excessive sun exposure and the sea breeze carrying the salt vapors to their homes as well as the lack of building materials have inevitable urged the island’s residents to follow a set of architectural guidelines that would also protect their home from the weather.
The cubic shapes, the flat terraces and smooth edges as well as the small openings, the petite doors and windows, protect the buildings from the strong winds while the white-washing technique is considered one of the most successful methods for humidity control, heat resistance and antibacterial prevention. Nothing in construction is left to chance, even the multileveled and multidimensional living spaces attest an expansion of space configured according to the needs of the resident to be used as an extra room, a barn or a family church. Even the different heights, the interior yards, the semi open spaces and verandas play a critical role in the distinctive architecture of Mykonos.
Even the colors, blue for the doors and shutters of sailors and green or red for the farmers have slowly shaped the unique architectural character of Mykonos.
The Preserved Magnificence
The island’s unique location, turbulent past and Cycladic spirit have formed a masterpiece of architecture praised to the day. Escaping from the white-washed houses and maze like alleys, the fuchsia boungavilleas and colored shutters create a contrast of artistic splendor. So do the red arched roofs of the numerous chapels, the picturesque balconies and rustic details against the azure backdrop of the Aegean sea and the shimmering golden beaches of Mykonos.
The Architectural Landmarks
Mykonos is home to a number of historical monuments that have also been designated as architectural landmarks, standing proud as real testament to the magnificent architecture of Mykonos.
The windmills of Mykonos, 16 in total, were once a critical component of the island’s economic prosperity. Now, standing as a reminder of the past with their round shape, the very small windows, the pointed roof and all-white exteriors they adorn the island of the winds.
The uniqueness of this church lies in the fact that it is actually composed of 5 different churches. A construction that began in 1425 and continued up until the 17th century. The 4 churches next to one another compose the base of the 5th church. All of different architectural styles come together to shape one of the most famous structures in all of Greece characteristic of the vernacular Cycladic architecture. The all-white church is crowned by a small bell tower and a beautiful arch.
Little Venice on the other hand escapes the Cycladic tradition as it has been inspired by Venetian culture that was spread to the island by Venetian merchants who were seeking to buy a home by the sea. Back in the day there were basement doors that provided underground storage areas and direct access to the sea. Built on the water’s edge with balconies overhanging the water along with wooden doors and windows painted in colorful hues, Little Venice definitely resembles Venice itself.
Moni Panagias Tourlianis
Another characteristic example of the Cycladic architecture is the monastery of Panagia Tourliani with its impressive whitewashed exterior and its colored dome. The monastery was built by two monks in 1542 and features a very impressive bell tower with remarkable folk carvings.
With respect to the Cycladic tradition and heritage, Katikies hotels preserve and embellish the architectural splendor of Mykonos, adding to the island’s sculptured brilliance.
photos 2,3,5,7,8 @ © Dimitris Skigopoulos / www.skigophotography.com