Why are the houses in Mykonos white and what do the colors of the doors and windows signify?


Mykonos is one of the most famous Greek islands, known for its stunning scenery, cosmopolitan vibe and vibrant nightlife. But have you ever wondered why the houses in Mykonos are white and what do the colors of the doors and windows signify? In this blog post, we will explore the history, culture and symbolism behind the unique architecture of Mykonos.

The history of white houses in Mykonos

The white houses of Mykonos are part of the Cycladic architecture, a style that emerged in the Aegean islands during the ancient times. The Cycladic architecture is characterized by simple, cubic shapes, flat roofs, small windows and doors, and whitewashed walls. The factors that influenced this style were the harsh climate, the scarce resources, the need for protection and the aesthetic preferences of the islanders.

The climate of Mykonos is hot and dry in the summer, with strong winds blowing from the north. To cope with these conditions, the islanders built their houses close to each other, forming narrow alleys that provided shade and shelter from the wind. They also used local materials, such as stone, wood and clay, to construct their houses. Stone was abundant and durable, but also dark and heat-absorbing. To reflect the sunlight and cool down the interior temperature, the islanders painted their houses with white lime wash, a mixture of water and limestone powder. Lime wash also had disinfectant properties, which helped prevent diseases and pests.

The scarcity of resources also affected the size and shape of the houses. The islanders had to make the most of the available space and materials, so they built their houses in small, cubic forms, with minimal openings and decorations. The flat roofs served as terraces or storage areas, while the small windows and doors reduced heat loss and protected from invaders. The whitewashed walls created a sense of harmony and uniformity among the houses, as well as contrasted with the blue sea and sky.

The need for protection was another factor that shaped the Cycladic architecture. Mykonos was often raided by pirates and enemies, so the islanders had to fortify their settlements. They built their houses around a central square or castle (kastro), with no signs or names on the streets. They also used bright colors, such as blue, red or green, to paint their doors and windows. These colors served as identification marks for the residents, as well as symbols of their religious beliefs or social status. For example, blue was associated with Virgin Mary, red with Saint Nicholas (the patron saint of sailors), green with nature and fertility, and brown with earth and stability.

The symbolism of white houses in Mykonos

The white houses of Mykonos are not only practical and beautiful, but also meaningful and symbolic. They represent the history, culture and identity of the islanders, as well as their connection with nature and spirituality.

The white color symbolizes purity, simplicity and elegance. It reflects the light and energy of the sun, which is vital for life and happiness. It also expresses the optimism and resilience of the islanders, who faced many hardships and challenges throughout history. The white color is a reminder of their values ​​and traditions, as well as their pride and dignity.

The colors of the doors and windows symbolize diversity, creativity and personality. They add contrast and vibrancy to the white landscape, creating a unique aesthetic effect. They also reflect the character and mood of the residents, as well as their preferences and tastes. The colors are a way of expressing themselves and communicating with others.

The future of white houses in Mykonos

The white houses of Mykonos are not only a part of history but also a part of present day life on this beautiful island. They are still inhabited by locals who cherish their heritage but also adapt to modern times. They are also admired by visitors who come to enjoy their charm but also respect their authenticity.

The white houses of Mykonos are protected by law since 1974 when they were declared as traditional settlements by UNESCO. This means that any changes or renovations must follow strict rules and regulations to preserve their original style and appearance. The islanders must use only natural materials such as stone or wood for construction; they must paint their houses only in white or earthy tones; they must not add any external features such as balconies or pergolas; and they must maintain the cubic shape and size of their houses.

The white houses of Mykonos are a living example of how architecture can be both functional and artistic, both practical and symbolic, both timeless and contemporary. They are a testament to the skill and creativity of the islanders, who managed to create a unique and distinctive style that reflects their culture and identity. They are also a source of inspiration and admiration for anyone who visits this magical island.