"Nisyros Villages"

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Nisyros, is better known amongst the geologists and nature lovers for its impressive volcano, which continues to indicate its presence dramatically with vapours and gases. But few know the important historic journey of the island, the green side of its countryside and the architecture of four gorgeous ancient settlements, which have nothing to be envious of other well-known settlements in the archipelago. The limited reputation of Nisyros is probably due to its small size and isolated geographical location, the mass migration of its inhabitants in the post-war years, the absence of natural sources of drinking water, which prevented the large-scale tourism development, as well as to frequent vibrations of the ground, a natural consequence of its volcanic nature. However, these adverse characteristics was a hidden blessing for Nisyros, which is emerging today before our eyes beautiful and untouched, though it has endured the worst afflictions and calamities of the 20th century. The charm of its traditional settlements was preserved, primarily because, until recently at least, the transportation of modern construction materials in the island was a difficult task. But also because the number of those involved in the construction process, be it natives or foreigners, and who were realising the devastating effects from the adoption of a "ruling" of modern architecture in urbanism and an overall residential sense, was constantly growing.  

The settlements are built in the direction of east in order to be protected from the prevailing west wind. General principle is to save space – ‘home just to sit, to have a field until the reach (of your eye)’, tells the Nisyrian proverb. The roads are small, paved, rounded and with steps that follow the ground. In some places there are large or small flat areas created for chat and rest and they always end up in the square. Emporio, the square, is enwrapped by the houses and the Church in Nicia is elliptical, whilst Mandraki has been designed and built by Italians.

The squares are usually unoccupied in the centre, with the Church and the coffeehouse aside, tempting and inviting locals and passers-by to put chairs, to start dancing, to stand, to talk about politics as in the ancient Agora, and to exchange views or goods. They host frequent festivals and fairs, with built-in the Church aside, baffling the sanctuary with the public. Although people’s primary concern in the building of settlements was simplicity, functionality and coverage of their needs, the result is complicated, with a sculptural and aesthetic value. Asymmetry due to the terrain, symmetry where it is permitted, the settlements become one piece with the environment. They are mainly associated with the earth, the sky and the sea. The mind, the body and the senses work together as they are forced to constantly adjust a perpetual dancing through space. In a simple ride you can sense traces of time reproduced in the daring look of the town, the historical richness, which is experienced unconsciously, and thus you are perceiving history. Because it is not enough for one just to build beautiful cities but also to approach them poetically.

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The Nisyrian house is two-floored. Not very different from one another. It is the chimney, the gutter, stairs, windows, colours in particular wooden balconies that will help diversify. On the ground floor, the floor besides cooking, is intended, for weaving, kneading, baking and storage. Upstairs, the hallway and the bedroom. Interesting is a wooden platform for sleep purposes, while underneath a storage area is created. Hanging crinkled embroidery isolate this singular bed. Several times the stone made yard is behind the house, whereas in Emporio is with no roof, internal to the centre of a floor and resembles that of the ancient Greek residence Atrium.