From prehistoric Akrotiri, built on the coast and protected from the strong northerly winds, to the amazing yposkafos (‘dug into the rock’) homes we see in Oia today, Santorini’s architecture has been fully adapted to the particular conditions on the island and has catered to the needs of its people through the ages.
The Santorinians built their houses into the volcanic rock and in this way entire villages have been formed into the island’s cliffs. Most of the yposkafos are to be found along the brow of the caldera in Fira, Oia and Imerovigli. The Venetian presence left the island a small legacy that counts on a few fortified settlements, with the only one that remains intact being the Kastro in the center of Pyrgos village. Equally interesting is the Venetian castle of Akrotiri, the Kasteli Castle, the mansion of the Argyros family and the Fira Catholic Cathedral.
Prosperity came to the island in the late 19th century and gave rise to impressive mansions. Oia was particularly popular among the island’s high-ranking maritime officers who tended to build big and often multi-storied homes.