Island of Hydra
Hydra, a barren, rocky island, has become a cosmopolitan artists’ center in recent years. It’s modern history dates from the 15th Century but rose to prominence as a shipping power in the 18th Century, winning the appellation “Little England”, as a result.
This maritime tradition has continued into our own time in the island’s Merchant Navy Training School. And the 18th and 19th Century mansions surrounding the port still testify to its earliest wealth and grandeur.
Among the most impressive of these are the Voulgaris, Koundouriotis and Tombazis houses; the latter is now a hostel for students from the Athens School of Fine Arts.The Koundouriotis mansion, on the
other hand, has been converted into a museum containing memorabilia from the War of Independence, in which Hydra played an important active role.
For artists and art lovers generally, Hydra is both a meeting place and showplace. The galleries scattered throughout the port offer something more than carefree relaxation by the sea.
Besides, being so rocky, Hydra is not renowned for the beaches; but rather; its many monasteries and churches. The most important of these are the monasteries of Profitis Ilias, Agia Matrona and Agia Triada.
Swimming is nevertheless possible from Hydra’s rocks, especially at Kaminia, Molos and Vlichos south of the port and at Mandraki, formerly a wartime harbour, north of it.
For visitors with a boat, a trip round the island with stops in the stunning covers on the east coast is well worthwhile. Hydra is also blessed by the absence of motorcars. To walk through its narrow, arched back streets and steep steps, a common feature, is to leave the modern world behind.