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Local Architecture

Local Architecture

One of the last traditional houses that is habitable in the village of Rouklia

 The houses in Ochi are of a simple, humble shape that has been influenced by the landscape, history and socio-economic conditions of life. Following the war of independence, southern Karystia was not pretty as there was no order or urban planning. The modern city of Karystos began to be built a few years after liberation in 1833, based on the urban plan of the Bavarian engineer Bierbach and at the orders of King Otto. The city plans provided for wide straight streets that intersected at a 90 degree angles and were lined with neoclassical buildings. Most villages are built on the southern and western foothills of Ochi, near the water sources. There are also the “skorpohoria”, scattered villages, areas that are not densely built on the northern and eastern part of the mountain. These villages are neighbourhoods that have been wisely adapted to the environment, the available resources and the landscape. There used to be many more houses, but even then they were not closely built. Perhaps this was so that each family could be independent in an environment which, the wilder and more inaccessible it is, the less densely built it is. Houses were situated on large tracts of arable land. Because the inhabitants were chiefly involved in animal husbandry, a simple house that served their basic needs for shelter and sleeping room sufficed. 

The form of the houses

The locals welcome us to the newly-built traditional Drima hut near the village of Schizali in the mountains of Cavo d’Oro.

The local material for construction is undressed natural stone and the Cycladic flat roof has become prevalent. Today, the roofs are made of concrete, but in the past they were covered with clay. To make a terraced roof they used to use a special cylinder that every home had. Houses have small rectangular windows and a central courtyard that usually face south to avoid the worst of the strong north winds. 

An old watermill at Panohori, Platanistos.

Water mills and the nearby nerotrives, facilities at which housewives would wash the household woollens, are of particular architectural value.

A sink in a house at Rouklia.

The abundant water allowed the inhabitants to build watermills at all the ravines. They would grind their cereals there and also wash the woollens nearby. The aroma of freshly milled flour is still prevalent, and one can still almost see the women washing the sheepskin rugs and the hand-woven blankets at the nerotrives. The water made their woollens soft and fluffy.

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