Cycladic basics #2

What’s with all that white?

How many postcards? How many photos?

How many poses in front of deep blue doors and fuchsia bougainvilleas adorning whitewashed walls have you ever seen/taken/posted/ admired in your life?

Here’s then something one simply cannot count, exactly like the unmeasurable awe of every visitor of any Cycladic island – including Paros, of course…

Such is the character of the traditional Cycladic architecture, uniquely integrated in its environment and yet so stripped-down, that it is totally justified not being able to avoid the mind’s association with this white-blue palette, when referring to the Cyclades.

It was the needs and the harsh, rocky landscape of these islands, what dictated the philosophy according to which the traditional Cycladic settlements were built. Surely, when strolling the alleys of Naoussa or of any other Cycladic village, you must have noticed how much the small, box-shaped buildings look alike. Unadorned and usually in a defensive formation, the Cycladic houses would meet the everyday needs of the habitants, who had to face not only the strong winds, but the pirates as well. This is the reason why the villages resemble of the medieval fortified settlements.

However, the blinding white color we so admire nowadays, was not always the norm. On the contrary, it was the materials of the surrounding environment what was used for the constructions, and, what’s more, we can assume that the old habitants wouldn’t want their houses to be easily spotted, phosphorescent in their complete whiteness, in front of the pirate eyes. It was just before the World War II, when people started coating their houses with whitewash, probably for protection from the pandemics. That was the beginning and the reason, as it is concluded from documents of the time. Later, in the ‘70s, multicoloring the exterior of the houses was basically made forbidden, dictating that white would be the dominant Cycladic color.

No matter what the case, the striking white-and-blue combination has become synonymous to the Cycladic identity, delighting travelers thirsty for sun and sea. We will definitely continue to take photos!

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