The imposing volcanic landscape of Santorini, scarred by the island’s troubled history showcases a unique architectural style, unlike anything else in the Aegean. The most significant symbol of Santorini’s architecture are the cave houses – yposkafa as they are known, which were the main housing structures of the caldera for centuries.
In order to inhabit the unwelcoming, steep caldera, cave like houses were designed in the hollows of the rock, offering sanctuary from the harsh winds and the frequent earthquakes. These underground structures are usually domed, lit by simple round skylights, and their most amazing trait is that the temperature inside remains stable throughout the year, staying warm in the winter and cool in the scorching Greek summer.
In the late 18th century, when commerce and exports of the exclusive Santorinian products were blooming, another style of homes arose. The mansions of the wealthiest families of the island are another emblematic architectural style typical of Santorini.
Grandeur two or even three storied buildings, with lush spaces, intricate details and breath taking views can still be found in privileged locations all around the island, boasting a glorious past of prosperity and affluence.
Once you leave the caldera for the hinterland of Santorini, you will encounter yet another construction style.
The farmhouses of the Great Vineyard of Santorini, and especially the houses of Megalochori are simple and functional, in the iconic cubic forms that has come to symbolize the Cyclades.
These farmhouses have plenty of underground storage room, also in a cave like form – the canaves, in order to best mature and store the precious wine supplies.
The terraces are functional as well; that is where the grapes are laid after harvest to dry in the sun and gain their sumptuous sweetness that gives us the famous Vinsanto and the other delicious Santorinian wines.
Every building in Santorini is unique, entailing the rich history of this glorious island. Every step leads to a new architectural gem, and it’s a gift to stroll around enchanting cobblestoned alleys and admiring the magnificent Santorini.