The Mansions of Hydra | One Day Cruise

The Mansions of Hydra

Famous for its maritime history and cosmopolitan life, Hydra has much to be proud of, and one of its treasures is its renowned mansions. These grand houses are a testament to the wealth of their owners, many of whom were prominent shipowners who played significant roles in Greece's illustrious history. There are approximately 30 mansions and 300 houses of captains that immediately capture one's attention upon setting foot on the island. A visit to Hydra with One Day Cruise provides an excellent opportunity to admire these mansions up close!

The Architecture

Built in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, the mansions of Hydra typically consist of three or four stories, with their interior courtyards influenced by Genoese architecture. While they boasted rare luxuries for their time, including opulent furnishings, household items, exquisite carpets, decorative pieces, and mementos from ports around the world, their exteriors remain modest, resembling impregnable fortresses. They were constructed when affluent shipowners sought to bring European architectural influences and the lifestyles of European aristocrats to the Argosaronic island of Hydra. The mansions are constructed using stone, terracotta, and wood. Doors and windows play with shades of gray, white, blue, and terracotta set within white frames. They all feature terraces. The rooms have high ceilings, intricate decorative elements, arches, frescoes, marble floors, and intricately painted wooden ceilings. They include typical rooms, a grand hall, a room for the iconostasis, another for the hookah, and various auxiliary spaces outside.

The Most Prominent Mansions

The epitome of these mansions is none other than the mansion of Lazarus Kountouriotis, situated directly above the pier and visible from the island's harbor. Today, the Historic House of Lazarus operates as an annex of the National Historical Museum. It was built during the island's economic and maritime heyday. Kountouriotis was one of Greece's greatest shipowners, a significant politician, and a key figure in the Greek War of Independence. The mansion is characterized by its lively ochre color. It is furnished, and visitors can see the room where the owner spent most of his time.

To the east of the harbor, the Mansion of Lazarus Tsamados stands tall, constructed entirely of stone. It now houses the Merchant Marine Academy, which began operating in 1749 and was later renamed the Naval Academy of Hydra in 1800.

Very close by, one can spot the Mansion of Antonis Kriezis, a fighter in the War of Independence who later became the country's prime minister. Today, the mansion serves as a nursing home.

In the western part of town, one comes across the Mansion of Manolis Tombazis and his wife Xanthi Sachini. The four-story structure, which has belonged to the School of Fine Arts since 1936, operates as its branch. Notably, its rooms serve as lodgings for potential artists visiting Hydra for their work, and it periodically hosts various art exhibitions.

Finally, one cannot omit George Kountouriotis' mansion from the list of elite mansions. It is situated behind the two aforementioned mansions on the hillside, standing out amidst the pine trees and resembling a fortress. Built in the early 19th century, George Kountouriotis was one of the greatest shipowners on the island and a politician, perhaps the most prominent of his era before the Revolutionary Struggle. The three-story stone mansion with numerous windows was later inherited by his grandson, Pavlos Kountouriotis, the first President of the Greek Republic. In 1991, it was purchased by the Ministry of Culture to convert it into a Museum of Post-Byzantine Art and History. The museum displays personal items, family heirlooms, other artifacts, and exhibits from the Recent History of Hydra.

Tags: Hydra, Mansion, Architecture, The Lazaros Koundouriotis House