Kalymnos Architecture

The basic type of residence existing in Kalymnos is the one-bedroom house, known as “katzia” that together with its expanded type, the “two-storey house” was built until the end of the 19th century. The one bedroom house basically consisted of one room of rectangular shape usually having the front side at the long side. In the interior, there is a raised wooden bed, at the one narrow side, that has a storage area below it and the fireplace, at the other side, for the preparation of food and the heating of the house. The equipment of the place is completed by cupboards, dressers, shelves and hangers for clothes and the table. The two-storey house can be found at areas with a great ground slope. It consisted of the bottom floor including the secondary rooms (kitchen, storeroom and tank) and the top floor intended to constitute the main residence. Colors play a vital role in the life of the Kalymnians as well as in the stylization of their residence. By means of colors, their emotions and the particular characteristics of their personality can be reflected into the house. In the past, houses used to be painted azure, white or in an earth tone. Nowadays, a wide range of colors is used and their combinations can be quite daring. The owners of the house used to paint even the public place around the house, as it was a part of their property. Despite the fact that there is not any programming or sort of agreement concerning the colors or the way of painting, the general result is very harmonious and contributes to the special character of the island. The painting takes place almost every week, especially when it comes to the low common rooms that can easily get dirty. Colors are the most intense and constant interference regarding to the houses, whether they are rich or not, and they contribute heavily to the stylization of the surrounding rendering the limits that separate private and common rooms even more unclear- especially in the case of folk houses.

In the end of the 19th and at the beginning of the 20th century, Kalymnos underwent an economic growth and, hence, started the accumulation of wealth in the form of products or money. A part of the collected money and imported significant funds coming from the Greek communities was invested in houses. As a consequence, some mansions were built that stood out from the folk houses due to their majestic appearance. In order to build these houses, anything that could establish the owners in a social level was used, such as the best and most resistant materials or the best craftsmen.

At the same time, the first neo-classical houses made their appearance and most of them had also folk characteristics. In this case, the biggest allocation concerning the rooms, as well as the reinforcement of the privacy that conforms with the better social status of the owner, is dominant. At the same time, there were also some financial activities that were served. Consequently, the warehouse, the store and, not rarely, the workshop of the artisan coexisted with the residence. In the underprivileged areas, an architecture that was similar to the neo-classical was developed including a combination of mainly folk and less neo-classical characteristics.

In Chora, and mainly in Pothia, there is a wide range of traditional house varying from simple ground-level houses with one or more rooms to impressive two-storey and three-storey houses with many neo-classical characteristics, which flourished on the island in the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century. The majority of the traditional houses exist in certain areas such as Agios Theologos, Agios Nikolaos, Agia Triada, Agios Mammas, Ipapanti, Evaggelistria and Patithries. The big two-storey and three-storey houses with the sophisticated architectural ornaments belonged mainly to rich captains and merchants of the island.

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