Influenced by factors such as history, landscape, climate, and environment, the architectural language of the Cyclades is a harmonious mix of white cubic houses, cobblestone streets, pristine windmills, and ubiquitous blue-domed churches.
Simple and conservative but utterly beautiful and unique, the distinguished Cycladic architecture characterizes the islands that form this lovely Aegean archipelago situated between Athens and Crete. From trendy Mykonos and postcard-perfect Santorini to the Venetian-flavored Naxos and the relaxed, lesser-known islands of Amorgos and Sifnos, each of the Cyclades has its own charm and personality.
Flat roofs, cubic shapes, and dazzling whitewashed walls are dominant features of the local architecture, which glitters in brilliant whites and blues under the glorious Mediterranean sun. Surprisingly, most of these unique settlements have been developed in an unplanned manner using simple materials. And although art and aesthetics have never been a priority for the islands’ inhabitants, the purpose being solely to cover the people’s needs, the Cycladic style serves as inspiration in designing some of today’s most beautiful spaces.
Cycladic houses are usually orientated to the southeast in order to benefit from natural light, while their walls are painted white and have a thickness of 60-80 cm, meant to provide protection from the strong winds and extreme heat. On the other hand, some of them (especially in Santorini) are built underground or carved in the hills to protect the interior from direct sunrays and maintain a constant temperature throughout the year.
Nevertheless, most of the islands that comprise the Cyclades offer distinct architectural particularities that reveal the stigma of former occupancies but also the problems and living necessities of each community.
With their cliffhanging sugar-cube houses, the pretty villages of Santorini are a sight to behold, especially at sunset, when the sea, the sky, and the majestic Caldera are bathed in dreamy golden hues. Mykonos stands out for its iconic white windmills and unique Little Venice – a cluster of fishermen’s houses decorated with wooden balconies painted in bright colors. In Naxos and Andros, the typical Cycladic architecture is complemented by beautiful Venetian towers and castles; Sifnos maintains its medieval character; Syros has wonderful neoclassical buildings; and Tinos is famous for its elaborate dovecotes (ornate stone-built structures designed to attract pigeons).
Below, you’ll find a selection of photos depicting various types of Cycladic architecture, including picturesque churches, dazzling pools, awe-inspiring Greek towns, as well as wonderful villas and hotels that combine the straight lines and gentle curves of local design with contemporary aesthetics.