In Greek mythology, Hydra is an aquatic monster with multiple heads and regenerative powers. In astrology, it is the serpentine constellation that lives among the stars. In etymology, “hydra” is derived from the Greek word for water, the essence of life. When it comes to Greek real estate, the court of aristocratic residences on the island of Hydra makes for everlasting family heirlooms to be passed down from generation to generation and to stand the test of time.
The story of Hydra, an immortal island
A member of the legendary legion of Saronic Islands, this 50-kilometer stretch of land afloat off the Argo-Saronic Gulf in the Aegean Sea we call Hydra has been around since the good old days of the Helladic Period (that’s B.C., meaning very, very old). For a time, it was a stronghold for brave sailors. But eventually word of its immense beauty got out (like Helen of Troy, it was inevitable), and herds of Athenians began to flock over by boat to see what all the fuss was about. What they discovered was a striking scenery of rocky cliffs and hillsides boasting breathtaking vistas; verdant Mediterranean gardens rich with lemon, pomegranate, and olive trees; pebble and golden-sand peaches as bright as the sun, crystal-clear waters mirroring the bluest of skies. Pure paradise.
To buy a residence on Hydra is to be in the company of wealthy Greek families of the Middle Ages – many of whom made their fortune sailing these very waters with the historic Hydriot Fleet – that commissioned the region’s most skilled architects, artisans, and builders to create habitable works of art that mirrored the nobility of Venetian palaces. Near the Old Port, shaped to a T – or rather to a U – like an amphitheater, many of these real estate treasures are still standing strong with all the charm and grace of their 18th-century framework: resilient wooden beams, noble archways, stone floors, and airy courtyards. Some of these historical mansions are in need of a little refurbishment; others prescribed full-blown renovations. Either or, they are magnificent real estate projects for vacation homes to be reinstated to their former glory, a reflection of the incredible landscape that remains as heavenly as it was then, today.
Vacation in eternal beauty for the rest of your days
Hydra is an island at peace and stuck in time. The air is pure, saved from any heavy construction or glitzy hotel resorts, with not a motor vehicle in sight. The mode of transportation is on the backs of donkeys, which is only really needed to carry luggage up steep, narrow alleyways to accommodations, which are as cozy and intimate as you might imagine, but not nearly as humble.
No rush, no fuss. Days move at your own pace. Sunbathe on the red pebbles of Vlychos Beach, perhaps have one too many glasses of retsina on the sandy bay of Mandraki Beach, or chat with the friendly fishermen of Kaminia village. Dive into refreshing waters from one of the many yachts docked at the port.
The tempo in Hydra fluctuates from season to season. In high season, glamour is presided over by modern-day royals, and the champagne flows without end. In low season, charm fills the air with crews of older gentlemen battling it out over a backgammon board. In any season, you’ll see couples wandering its cobblestone streets, roaming through fresh fruit and fish markets, hopping between vibrant cafes, charming tavernas, and scrumptious restaurants, hopelessly in love.
Hydra has also won the hearts of artists and their affiliates, who have together established a happening art scene with cliff-side galleries that attract collectors from around the world. Even the late-great lyrical genius Leonard Cohen was so moved to restore a property of his own there. Discover the roots of such artistic inspiration first hand at the ancient ruins and temples scattered throughout this incredible island.
After a visit, you’ll dream of being knighted a Hydriot. The price: Buying an aristocratic mansion in Hydra.