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Written by on 23.10.2013
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The structure and design of the villages and their buildings depict the History of a place with its financial and social conditions.

The people of Ithaca built their houses according to these conditions with knowledge and experience, creating the “traditional inhabita­tion” as it is called today. Much more than the other periods, the Venetian and English periods influenced the architecture of the buildings in Ithaca which were adopted either directly or indirectly from the style that prevailed in their civilizations.

Time, and a series of earthquakes caused the destruc­tion of all the buildings that existed before the Vene­tians came to the island, therefore this reference con­cerns mostly those which are still standing today. But there is a very small amount of information concern­ing old inhabitations that existed before the Venetians at Anoghi in the north and Rizes in the south. A study of their ruins indicate that they were built from large rectangular blocks of stone and had only one room with a few small windows.

During the first few years of the Venetian period, lured by the Venetians, people came from other lands to settle on the island. These immigrants and the people of the island lived up in the mountains (mainly in Paleohora, Exoghi and Anoghi) to avoid the attacks on the island from the pirates. The people lived in houses made of stone and wood, that were one or two storeys high, with walls about 70 cm thick, wooden doors and small windows which were more like peep­holes, that were used for defense. The storage house was adjoining the house with only one entrance from the inside. Just outside of the entrance, which was on the longer side of the building and usually looking towards the east, there was a cistern were water was collected and stored. Also common characteristics were the simple rectangular construction with the proportion of 1:2 in ground plan and the absence of a balcony.

There were differences in the layout of the main vil­lages such as; in Paleohora where the people were from different origins, the houses were built quite apart from each other, but in Anoghi and Exoghi they were quite close to each other, indicating that the population was homogeneous.

By the end of the 16th century when the attacks by the pirates became infrequent, part of the population moved down to the coasts establishing Vathi and other villages, of which the construction had no de­signed plan. The buildings were one or two storeys high with a double roof of ceramic tiles, they had a cistern, bigger windows and there was a toilet built apart from the main building. The Renaissance began to influence the architecture and the first decorative elements were incorporated into the style of the build­ing, such as arches at the entrance and balconies, near the end of the period. Existing examples of the houses from this period are: the Jovanatos house in Stavros and that of G. Karavias in Vathi..

When England became the new ruler of Ithaca, a law enforced in 1817 prohibited the construction of any building without a permit and if it was more than two storeys high. At this time the neo-classic elements appear, such as the eaves over doors and windows, fascias on one side or more of the walls and other decorative details.

In the houses the ground floor was usually used as a store, and the upper was the residence with the bed­room in the attic. The ground plan of the main build­ing was either rectangular, L or Π shaped, with the outer walls painted with the colors ochre, red and white. The storehouse and the toilet were separate buildings, and the cistern was in the yard which sur­rounded the buildings.

In the 20th century the majority of houses were rec­tangular, they had ceramic tiled roofs and the ground level was used for storage, or as a store. The entrance was at the long side of the house facing the road, the yard with all the auxiliary constructions was at the back and the usual colors painted on the outside were ochre, white, dark and or light brown. Neoclassic still influenced the architecture of the buildings, especially the homes of the wealthy which had elabo­rate decorative elements such as the home of G. Drakoulis, still standing intact in Vathi, also existing today in this style but much simpler are the homes of A. DracouHs in Vathi, Lizy’s in Kioni and others in the Platrithia area.

Unfortunately, most of the buildings were destroyed by the earthquakes of 1953, the new ones built are in the same style but much humbler and with less decor­ative dements.

Ithaca’s buildings are considered fractional by a law passed in 1978, which also confines any building today to the traditional architecture and color, forbids more than two storeys and restricts the type of mate­rials used for its construction.

  • Reference:
    • DSC 0193

      -Ιθάκη  Τότε και Τώρα- Εκδσεις Σπύρος Δενδρινός, Σπύρος Χ. Δενδρινός - Αλέκος Φ. Καλλίνικος

      -Θιάκι:Ιστορική εξέλιξη και Αρχιτεκτονική - Δευτεραίος Γεράσιμος

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