The Architecture of Sifnos
Architectural elements of Sifnos and traditional settlements
Traditional architecture of Cyclades and Sifnos
The Cycladic architecture maybe has known its best expression in this beautiful island, Sifnos. Here the bright white color attracts the eye, while the homogeneous cubical volumes which are spread along the island and the dry store walls, which follow the land’s morphology and break its surface in horizontal zones, prove once more the reality of nature in matters of architecture.
The traditional settlements of Sifnos are characterized by multiformity.
For instance, the town planning in Kastro is completely different that the other regions, because of its defensive character. The settlement of Kastro, in spite of the years that have passed, still maintains unchangeable its medieval character. The main characteristic of the settlement is narrowness, the lack of sites of common use, the few small courtyards and the narrow streets with the shapeless widenings. The visitor still enters into Kastro from its old entrances - arcades, the "lozies", which used to seal in the past for the protection of the settlement like war towers. At the internal arrangement of the settlement, the planning is quite free and many of the streets are passing over the houses’ rooms. The arrangement of the streets’ levels is such that in many cases passing is possible by small bridges.
The houses of Kastro are divided in two categories, the houses with narrow front sides, and the mansions. The houses with the narrow front sides mainly of the external ring are built the one next to the other and they form the external part of the settlement. The narrow paved streets with the low stone benches, the dark arcades, the old houses with the wooden balconies, the blazons at the entrances, the ancient pillars that were later used as architectural parts, the marble Roman urns that one meets spread all over the village with the relief jewels, the embrasures and the narrow courtyards of the houses, compose the unique image of Kastro!
Most of the traditional settlements with the snowy-white cubic buildings of Cycladic order, the paved narrow streets with the limy joints, the hospitable courtyards with the snowy-white stone benches and the scattered picturesque churches with the white or blue domes and the fine bell-towers are accumulated at the central plateau of the island, therefore their borders are not visible, giving the impression of a continuous settlement without any beginning or end.
The traditional pedestrianized street starts from Artemonas and goes up to Katavati, passing through the settlements of Pano Petali and Apollonia, while it is also connected also with Agios Loukas, Exambella, Kato Petali and Kastro.
All along the coastline there are settlements that have been developed alongside of the seaside. The first buildings were old potter’s workshops with furnaces, which are built next to the beach in order to have direct access to the boats that transported the ceramics all over Greece! The visitor can see traces of such buildings in coastal settlements, such as Faros, Vathy, Kamares and Herronisos. Nowadays, some of them have changed use, but still preserve their appearance, while many of them operate to date.
The stacks and the dovecots, which used to be used as farmers’ houses at the faraway regions from the settlements, are one-room buildings with fiew auxiliary rooms, such as cellars for the storing of products, wine-press, stable, and oven and often threshing floors.