Medieval cities and traditional villages, white houses bleached by the sun and formidable castles… a tour of Mediterranean architecture and history in a nutshell. The whitewashed villages of the Aegean islands are a living embodiment of the sparse clean lines of minimalist Cycladic architecture. Heroic ancient acropolises and medieval castles, fortified Byzantine towns with restored palaces and churches and a full complement of World Heritage Monuments complete the picture.
The medieval town of Rhodes
Rhodes’ old town is considered one of the best-preserved medieval settlements in the world. Continuously inhabited since the Middle Ages, the entire town has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The principal towns of the islands
The main town of most Greek islands is known locally as ‘Hora’. They are usually the epitome of simple beauty, nowhere more so than in the Cyclades islands, where the simple but elegant architecture blends so seamlessly with the natural landscape. But there are gems to be found throughout the Aegean: Mykonos, with its wave-beaten Little Venice and alleyways outlined in white; Serifos, with its sugar-cube houses below the castle; or Naxos where a maze of white houses surrounds the citadel with its towers and mansions; right down to Patmos and the Monastery of St John the Theologian, a UNESCO World Monument.
This stunning 13th-century Byzantine fortress state, ‘the wonder of the Morea’, with its restored palace and churches, near Sparta in the Peloponnese, is another listed in UENSCO’s catalogue of World Heritage Sites.
Stone, stone and more stone: the architecture of Mani and its imposing tower houses is guaranteed to impress.
A medieval settlement without equal in the Mediterranean, Monemvasia is a castle-town plucked straight out of a fairy tale.
The villages of Pelion
Stone walls and slate roofs nestled in Mt Pelion’s lush greenery. Pelion’s architecture is a model for other rural settlements. Don’t miss the villages of Makrinitsa, Zagora, Tsangarada, Kissos, Vizitsa and Milies.
The city on the lake in western Greece boasts a castle, mosques and the acropolis of Its Kale. It was declared a listed settlement in 1981.
The Zagoria Villages of Epirus
Chiselled to perfection with flagstone streets and ornate arches. The villages of the central Zagori district are poetry in stone. And as you cross the region’s many bridges, it will cross your mind that they too are all minor masterpieces in their own right.