Hydra Mansions

The Mansions of Hydra: The mansions of the island are its most distinctive and striking feature. The mansions, also called archontika, were built by wealthy shipowners and stand as reminders of the economic prosperity that the island was blessed with during the 18th century. While the mansions are ages-old, they still stand tall and magnificent all over the island. They are all made of stone and are mostly white and pastel-colored. They usually have three or four storeys and most also have external staircases leading to the flat roof.

Huge rooms with high ceilings, decorated with wall paintings, painted wooden ceilings, and geometrical drawings on the marble floors are the common features of the mansions' interiors. There were separate rooms for men and women, a large lounge, an iconostasis, and a special room for the men to smoke hookah. The furniture, usually brought from the West, was of excellent quality and played a major part in adding to the beautiful decor of these mansions.

A distinctive decorative feature is the white frame around the windows which contrasts the otherwise grey building. Many mansions have beautiful gardens with fences and are complete with marble drinking fountains. Most of these mansions are still in the hands of private families and therefore not open to the public. Some of them, however, are now being used for public services and therefore allow visitors to take a peek inside, a chance that you should truly not miss out on.

Some of the most impressive mansions are:

Lazaros Koundouriotis Mansion: The Lazaros Koundouriotis Mansion stands out due to its characteristic ochre color. The ground floor serves as a gallery, exhibiting paintings created by Pericles and Konstantinos Vyzantios. The first floor has not changed since the last descendant of the family, Pandelis Koundouriotis, lived there. Old furniture, paintings, portraits, kitchenware, and many other items remain there to this day. Lastly, the upper floor hosts the historical and folklore collections of the National Historical Museum.

Pavlos Koundouriotis Mansion: The Pavlos Koundtouriotis Mansion was built between 1802 and 1816 and was originally the home of George Kountouriotis, a wealthy shipowner who fought in the War of Independence and whose grandson, Pavlos Koundouriotis became the first president of the Greek Republic. The building complex consists of three buildings and a garden. The lower levels of the central building were used as store rooms while the upper levels had reception halls and bedrooms. The garden had three levels as well.
The mansion has been acquired by the Greek Ministry of Culture and was renovated to house the Kountouriotis Family Museum and the Post Byzantine Art and History Museum of Hydra. The Museum houses personal items of the family, as well as exhibits dating back to the Greek War of Independence that reflect Hydra's nautical heritage.

• Tombazis Mansion: The Tombazis Mansion is a massive four-storied building on the west side of Hydra harbor, near the statue of Kountouriotis. The original owner of the mansion was Iakovos Tombazis, the First Admiral of the fleet of Hydra. The interior of the building is decorated with paintings of historical events and ships of 1821. The mansion now houses the School of Fine Arts of Athens and also has a hostel for its students. You can usually get a peek inside when a lecture takes place.

• Tsamados Mansion: The Tsamados Mansion, located on the east side of the harbor was built between 1780 and 1810. The owner, Anastasios Tsamados, was a heroic admiral who died during the Greek War of Independence in 1821. The mansion now houses the Merchant Marine Academy, the oldest school of its kind in Greece. The school started to operate in 1749 and has been housed in Tsamados Mansion since 1930.