Cyclades Architecture - Unique in the World | World Architecture

Cyclades architecture is one of a kind. With the advent of tourism on each of these islands, word about the uniqueness of Cyclades architecture has spread far and wide. If you visit Santorini, Andros, Naxos or any other Cycladic island, you will see that each of the island villages have whitewashed cubic houses with blue wooden doors and windows. Even the streets have been painted white and constructed with rectangular or polygonal flagstones. The old world charm exudes from each of these islands. The builders who built these houses had a preconceived idea to construct the houses according to the land conditions on these islands. Rarely will you ever come across very fashionable architectural extravaganza. Even the hotels here have certain architectural rules that they usually conform to.

Buildings constructed here had to serve the purposes of the islanders as well as complement the fantastic landscape of each of these islands. All of the buildings or residential houses in the villages are built in a manner to maintain a certain balance and uniformity. When you walk through the labyrinth of narrow lanes, you will see that the houses tend to look similar in many respects. There are sometimes series of one storey houses at one place and at another place there are series of two storey houses. All of them are painted white in contrast to the dark ground on which they stand and have the unique blue color painted on doors and windows reflecting the vast blue sea and the sky around them. Cyclades architecture looks very surreal at times and you are often led to wander whether you are in some fantasy land.

In Cyclades architecture, you will see that even the streets are all the same. It is the place where most of the activity takes place. Restaurants, bars and cafeterias all open up into the streets. The streets are like a continuation of the houses in this place. You will hardly come across grand public squares here and most of them occupy a very small area. It is usually the meeting place of people who come here to chat and spend time over a cup of coffee or a glass of wine. Even the architecture of the churches in this place is in conformity to the housing architecture in each village. Of course, their blue domes have definitely made them very popular indeed among national and international tourists. One interesting feature of the two-storey houses here is that the second storey has an outside staircase to the upper floor.

This outside staircase is found in all the houses having two-storey structure. In Cyclades architecture, it is a very popular custom where it is seen that separate individuals own separate floors in the same building. This custom had started way back in the times when the Venetians owned the islands and had established their supremacy here. Once the castle walls came up surrounding the settlements, there was lack of proper places to stay for people coming into this village from other parts. At that time, many families in need of goods rented out their ground floors to these goods-trading people. Often you will come across houses in these villages that have opened stores in the ground floor whereas the family lives in the upper floor.

Thus most of the Cyclades architecture found in the villages comprise of whitewashed houses with vaulted, pitched or inclined roofs, blue-domed churches, fountains in public squares, windmills on top of the cliffs or hills, and ornately decorated dovecotes in the villages. The houses are built in such a manner on these undulating landscapes of the Cycladic islands that it appears to have been growing out of the sides of the hills.

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