Thassos Island Greece

Thassos Island Greece

Thassos Architecture

Architecture, Thassos

The remaining traditional houses of Thassos are dated back from the 1800’s. The constructors were experienced master-hands who were moving from Epirus and Bulgary. They worked in the buildings with the Thassians. We would characterized them as primitive folk architects. It is mentioned by the locals that crews of “Arvanites” have constructed buildings, whose morphology places them in the 19th century. The oral tradition, however, indicates that the whole local community was participating in the construction of a house by generating and transferring the building materials. The homogeneity of the traditional architecture, despite its local features or singularities, is attributed to mutual work and technical procedures. The Macedonia elements are mingled with the particular local features that characterize their needs and idiosyncrasy. Therefore, apart from the basic elements, that are presented in the traditional architecture in Thassos, every village has managed to develop its own distinctive characteristics. They were influenced by the Thracian and Macedonian architecture, and not by insular models. The isolation of the dwelling in the mainland, in places that were invisible form the sea and quite inaccessible, did not permit their residence to be occupied with the sea. So, the flow of wealth and the introduction of new ideas was interfered. The main connection of Thassians with the outside world was the Mount Athos.

A distinctive feature of the area is the lack of free places to produce and generate products, a fact that expresses tendency of privacy prevailing over sociability. The enclosed barton of the houses is proportional with the independence of the churches that do not comprise poles of organization. The growth model of the settlements is based on private life and on the boundaries of property. The only option of social expression are solely the big events and religious celebrations.

The main occupation of the residence is cattle breeding viniculture and at a smaller scale apiculture. The growing o olive trees was confined because of the trees’ distance from the isolated residential settlements. After the alleviation from piracy and the free at last transferring of the residence, the growing of olive trees begins to flourish. Since the dwellings were hours far from the plains, there were created huts with fireplaces for seasonal tenement. Gradually, the growing of olive trees, as well the occupation with the sea, contribute to the movement of settlements from the internal “hoop” to the today’s coastal villages. The huts comprised the base of those new dwellings.

The Thassian architecture is influenced by the climate, the building materials availability (mainly wood and stone), the existence of proper running water, the orientation, as well as the position which due to the threat of pirates defines significantly the location of the newly founded settlements.

How the buildings are constructed depends largely on the financial situation, the availability of building materials and the role of the building in the general environment. At the poorer mountainous areas, the external walls are constructed by dry stone or mud remaining unplastered. The internal walls were made of lath, which was wood filled with clay, moulded by hand and it was whitened by lime. (We often see the indigo colour as well as ocher at the interior of the buildings.)

Houses with walls made of unwrought stone in the form lime stone are covered by wooden roofs and schist. Wood plays a main role in the construction which along with stones and marble crate arched doors, exterior stone stairs and elaborate roofs.

The residences are surrounded either by traditional wooden balconies or by walled yards with flower gardens. Characteristic samples are localized in Theologos, Panagia, Potamia, Sotira and Kazaviti, comprising interesting picturesque destinations for the whole year.

With the different morphology, the neoclassical motifs of symmetrical view are dominant in Limenas and Limenaria from the 1902. Two or three storey houses, roofs with pediments or with more classic materials, such as stone or wood pose a sense of serenity and an discreet distance in the space. The ceiling mainly consist of gabled roofs that carry French tiles.

The best room of a residence is “odas”, which is the reception; lacking a fireplace, with lots o windows and a wooden ceiling or with a central dome. The rest spaces is occupied by bedrooms that have fireplaces with alcoves or windows on both sides. Special covered spaces host the clothing and the house ware. The kitchen is initially absent. Later, it occupies a small space in the building. Toilets are rarely embedded in the house. The usually are at the yard. There are two-ply windows, which are blocked with horizontal beams of iron and they scarcely have sun blinds. The fireplaces have semi-circular or rectangular shape while the stone chimney is always covered. It is common to find small alcoves around the fireplace, combined with large wooden cupboards. Finally the iconostasis is mandatory and dominant in every Thassian or Greek home with a great variety in its morphology.

Karatzouni A. Ourania
Architect

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