Sunday 18 August 2013

Hydra - the seafront

This is the first sighting of Hydra, one of the Saronic islands: rocky hillsides, a crescent-shaped harbour, white houses with red ceramic rooftops

This is the one main town, known simply as Hydra port, with a population of 1,900.

Steep stone streets lead up and outwards from the harbour area.

Hydra is one of my favourite Greek islands and I keep coming back to it

It is very close to Athens so people might come just for the day. Even though it is very cosmopolitan, it is relatively unspoilt

thanks to the hard efforts of the inhabitants who have tried, and succeeded,  in keeping their island as unspoilt as possible: there is no new building going on, most houses are listed, and big developments are resisted: apparently Richard Branson wanted to build a resort on one of the deserted parts of the island but the answer was a resounding 'no'.

Most important of all, no vehicles of any sort are allowed on the island: no cars, no bikes, just people and donkeys. A  traffic-free world - such a wonderful thing and the more you stay in Hydra, the more you appreciate how great that is

The garbage truck is the only vehicle, and during our four days there, we only saw it this once

The harbour is ringed by mansions, a testament to the prosperity that the island enjoyed in the 19th century, when Hydra was home to some 125 boats and 10,000 sailors. During the Greek Revolution against the Ottoman Empire, the fleets of Hydra were able to wrest control of the Eastern Aegean sea.

One of the architectural features of the mansions in Hydra are the cloistered terraces like the one in the photograph which provide shade and coolness during the summer months - it is very hot in Hydra, I guess due to the heat that reflects off the rocks

I love the architecture of the island - here is another cloistered terrace

Another feature are the huge walls that enclose gardens, as seen in this photograph, or some times they just enclose land in the middle of nowhere: I don't know the reason for that but it might be to prevent land erosion from the rains

There are also quite a few stone-built mansions, and the cloistered terraces are everywhere

another view of that walled garden.

Loads of boats come and go, some small, and some magnificent specimens like this one

There is one part of the quay reserved for the very large boats - a lot of very rich people come to the island and apparently Valentino was visiting while we were there - maybe this was his boat

But, you get a very varied mix of people - people of all classes mix happily together, some here for the day, lots staying for longer

When it gets dark, the place changes, and takes on a magical quality

But dusk is equally good, when everything takes on the colours of the sun and the hills turn pink, as does the sea

I have not done anything to this photograph - this is how it was and I am pleased that I was able to capture that pinky golden hue

The Spilia area is on the West side of the town

and is the only place where you can swim - people perch on the rocks and use the steps to ease into the sea. I have swam here lots of times, and it's very good, especially if you swim to the next cove. For alternative swimming you have to take one of the boats and go to remote parts - there will be a post about this.

The views from here are fantastic - the lone swimmer you can see in this photograph was very accomplished indeed

and because I love photographing swimmers, here's another photograph

and one more.


  1. Replies
    1. It's a gorgeous place, Avril, and the fact that there are no cars makes it really special. I love it there.

  2. I am so pleased to see that Hydra is recognisable as the place I visited one summer in the '60s. And, although I never returned, I have a soft spot for the place because of Leonard Cohen.

    1. Totally recognisable, Olga. It really has not changed at all.

      I too, love Leonard Cohen's songs, particularly the later albums, 'I'm your man' and 'the future'. We saw him at the NEC a few years ago, and it was electric - one of the best concerts I have been to.