- Adamas (or Adamantas)
- Plaka and Plakes
- Triovassalos and Peratriovassalos
- Zefiria (or Chora)
- Villages of fishermen: Klima, Skinopì, Aretì, Fourkovouni, Firopotamos, Mandrakia, Mytakas, Agios Kostantinos.
- Island’s rural areas
When we talk about the Cycladic islands’s architecture, we often tend to give an overall description of it. Actually every island presents specific and often unique features, even if there are, of course, many elements in common throughout the area.
Materials availability, technical skills, functional needs and climatic conditions have determined the features of Aegean islands’ buildings.
The architecture of Milos’s traditional houses was based on cubes composition, with well-defined corners.
The only curved elements that one could often find were the typical wood-fired ovens. Especially out of villages, these low and round ovens were sticking out from the main body of the houses. Arches, vaults and round elements are considered uncommon, contrary to what is found in other islands: in Santorini, for example, vaults were usual and in Myconos corners were often rounded.
Milos’s traditional houses were built with walls made of stone and clay. The roof was flat, supported by beams which were covered by wooden boards or, in humbler houses, by reeds. Above there was spreaded a layer of seaweed and in the end a layer of clay. The whole was then whitewashed. In wealthier houses the timbers of ceilings were not left visible, but completely hidden by suspended ceilings in wood and stucco.
These impermeable and white roofs, which were requiring an annual and careful maintenance, collected rainwater. Pipes of terracotta were carrying the water to the underground tanks.
Although these islands were once relatively less arid than today, the tanks to collect rainwater were yet of vital importance. These tanks were dug and plastered with clay, and with the derived stone house’s walls were built. So there was often a proportion between the size of the building and that of the associated tanks. These structures regularly required to be cleaned and maintained, so that until some years ago there were artisans specialised in this work.
Nowadays we have modern sea water desalination plants, but in many houses rainwater is still willingly used and collected in the tanks during the winter months.
In two-storey houses the concrete slab between floors was formed simply by beams covered with a wooden floor. Upstairs there were usually the bedrooms. You could enter them using a wooden, narrow and steep staircase that reached the upper floor through a trapdoor. In case of danger, this trapdoor could be closed and bolted.
In some cases on the ground floor there were workshops or storerooms and on the upper floor the dwelling. In this case, apart from the staircase, usually there was also an external stone or wooden stairway to get directly to the dwelling.
Generally, houses did not exceed two storeys. Even if both interrnal and external walls were made of stone, sometimes, especially upstairs, there were used internal lighter walls, which were made of wood and clay covered in straw or animal fur in order to make it more resistant.
The walls were plastered and whitewashed both inside and outside. The exterior plaster was usually irregular in humbler houses, and smooth, and therefore more expensive, in buildings of wealthier families.
Finally, let’s talk about frames. According to times, trends, artisans and families with more economic capacity, doors and windows were of several types, more or less elegant.
Frames were and are the sign of colour that dominates the blinding white of whitewash. The used colours were usually in step with the surroundings. In the inland areas mostly green, grey and brown were used, whereas near the coast prevailed sky-blue and vivid colours (red and yellow) that were also used to paint boats.
Doors were always sturdy, not too wide, with inside stable bars or iron struts to ensure safety. Windows were smaller in areas with a greater danger of assaults, a bit bigger in safer areas or times. Anyway, they are never too large, given that in these areas light is blinding. It is interesting to note the use of small windows facing north, which ensured a better air circulation and therefore more comfortable temperatures during the hot summer months.
Adamas (o Adamantas)
Adamas village is today’s harbour where ferry-boats and catamarans arrive.
Fishing boats dock here too. They sell fresh fish directly on the quay.
In this village it is concentrated a good part of infrastructures for tourists.
Bars, cafés, ice-cream parlours, taverns and shops animate the promenade, where in the evening you can have a walk alongside the anchored boats.
We recommend the Mining Museum, necessarily not to be missed by those who are interested in island’s geological and mining history.
The Ag. Triada church is also of great value and one of the oldest on the island.
Plaka and Plakes
Plaka is the island’s administrative capital. It is a pretty traditional village, very well preserved clinging on the rocky side of a hill, where once the Venetian Kastro (Castle) was built.
The village was the dwelling place of the island’s economically better-off classes, who have left us several important buildings. Today Plaka is sparsely populated, but during the summer it breathes of life. The walk to the Kastro to see the sunset is a ritual.
The several taverns in the central part of the village await visitors. The narrow pedestrian streets, with their several shops, are a maze to explore.
Do not miss the Archaeological Musem, the Museum of Folk Art and a visit to the beautiful churches.
At the foot of the Kastro’s hill there is the village of Plakes, a housing area that was built more recently.
Triovassalos and Peratriovassalos
They are two villages almost joined together facing each other in an upland situated little lower than Plaka.
They are the most densely populated villages of the island.
On the main road that skirts them, Karodromos, you can find several shops, administration offices and banks.
Like Plaka, it is a very pleasant traditional village.
It was the craft village of the island, and on its roads once appeared artisans’ workshops, which today have died out.
In the immediate surroundings there are some of the most significant archaeological areas, among them the ancient theatre and the Catacombs.
On the top of the hill, in back of the village, mills can be seen, which today have been made over into accommodation for tourists.
Once it was a small village of fishermen, just in front of Kimolos.
Today it accommodates several tourist homes, hotels, rooms to let, taverns and restaurants.
From here leaves the boat to Kimolos.
Zefiria (or Chora)
Once it was the island’s capital, but today it is a small village, not far from the airport and on the way to reach some of the island’s most beautiful beaches.
It is worth to note the beautiful church.
Klima, Skinopì, Aretì, Fourkovouni, Firopotamos, Mandrakia, Mytakas, Agios Kostantinos
A separate discussion deserve the villages on the sea; from the biggest and better-known, Klima,
moving to Skinopì,
and Agios Kostantinos.
Actually they have been created not as real villages, but rather as places to protect boats. The buildings from which they are constituted, the so-called “sirma”, were boathouses. To these “sirma” was often added a first-floor room, where fishermen could have a rest while awaiting the time to go and collect their nets.
These buildings, often used today as holiday homes or summer houses, have never been real dwellings. They are overlooking the sea, with large doors in order to drag under cover the boats. The doors have a wicket gate from which still today one can come out after having arranged strong props inside. Only in this way doors can stand the violence of the sea during winter storms. Doors and windows are usually colourful, painted with the same paints used for boats.
Island’s rural areas
There are several rural buildings scattered around the island.
The main farmlands were – and to some extent still are – the plain around Zefiria, some areas along the north shore, and the west of the island. Moreover some examples of the old peasant houses can be seen, with their dwelling, storerooms, stables, farmyard for threshing cereals and sometimes a dovecote.