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Hydra, the island of the artists, the island of cinema

As early as in 1950s’, the scenic island of Hydra has attracted the attention and interest of artists and intellectuals who started to visit the island just for holidays and for longer or permanent staying. Thus, Hydra had gradually become a place of culture, equally important to Athens and Thessaloniki and a lot of cultural activities took place there. Additionally, several Greek artists and intellectuals were of Hydraean origin; the most well known among them, are the painter Nicos Hantzikyriakos-Ghikas and the poet Miltos Sahtouris. Others, like the painters Panagiotis Tetsis and Periklis Vyzantios, the architect Demetrios Pikionis, the poets George Seferis and Odysseas Elytis, the authors D. Petsalis and Henry Miller, the painter and poet Nicolaos Engonopoulos, the composer Leonard Cohen, came to the island, adored it and decided to return again and again, searching their inspiration at this quiet and civilized place.

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In 1936 the well known painter Periklis Vyzantios (1893-1971) in cooperation with the professors of the Faculty of Fine Arts of Athens had the initiative to establish an outlier of the Faculty on the island of Hydra. The outlier was housed in the Tombazis’ mansion and several eminent artists, among whom Marc Chagall, were invited and spent long periods of time there.

But what contributed most of all to the fame of Hydra and the development of tourism was cinema. A lot of films were filmed on the island, among which The Girl in Black of the Greek director Michalis Cacoyannis where starred Elli Lambeti, the Boy on a Dolphin with the famous Italian actress Sophia Loren a film that made Hydra famous worldwide and the excellent film Phaedra of the director Jules Dassin, with the mythic Melina Mercouri, Anthony Perkins and Ralf Valone.

Both thanks to the famous artists and the films, Hydra made up the image of a cosmopolitan, but in the same time calm place without vehicles, where people can have nice holidays or settle permanently, to lead a life without stress and full of inspiration.
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