Since the early years the settlements of Sifnos are separated in two categories –the defensive and the traditioanl ones.
Defensive is the settlement of Kastro, with its fortified, medieval structure, where the lines of the houses form the external wall.
Traditional are the seven basic settlements of the island which form a unique grid with Cubist architecture. They are white, built on a big plateau and they are connected with each other as they constitute one of the most beautiful characteristics of Sifnos. Old trails connect Artemonas to Ai Loukas and Pano Petali, Apollonia, Katavati and finally Exambela and Kato Petali, which are a bit more special than the other settlements.
* Influences of the defensive architectute are found in buildings in Kato Petali and in Stavri of Apollonia, as a transitional phase from the town planning of Kastro, to the linear form of settlement. Besides that the structure is free with the central pedestian street being the basic compositional element, to which other secondary roads are connected leading to small neighbourhoods.
A common characteristic of the settlements is the way in which the churches are integrated in them and usually they are directly connected to their neighbouring houses –even by a common yard.
The wealthiest families lived in Artemonas and Ai Loukas this is why the particular settlements include quite a few houses with Neoclassical elements (early 20th century). Katavati and Kato Petali have houses of rural nature. Even so, though, the settlements show unity and harmony. The fishermen and the potters built their houses in the countryside of Sifnos, without forming villages –only small complexes with residences and workshops.
The basic construction materials are stone and wood. In addition, they used lime, sand, soil, argillaceous soils, Theraic earth and algae. Characteristic architecture element in the houses of the wealthy and in the churches is “volto” (as in Tinos and in other Cycladic islands as well). It is stone transverse arches which divide the space into smaller openings. The same role is played by the big wooden beams, “axonia”. Another characteristic of the Sifnian house is the chimneys called “flari”. Along with the water gutters, the stairs accessing the roof, the terraces and the cornices complete the Cubist architecture.
* We have also gathered data from the album “Greek Traditional Architecture – Cyclades”, Melissa.