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Greece » Sterea » Attica » Hydra island » The town of Hydra
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The town of Hydra, Hydra Island

The town of Hydra is amphitheatrically arranged within a close bay situated approximately at the middle of the northern coast of the island. The town is surrounded by bare rocks and steep mountains. The first impression of the visitor as the ship reaches the port is the image of the high impressive old mansions overlooking the town. What follows is the view of the old defensive bastions with their canons on site, still protecting the town from remote and -forgotten enemies. The spectacle is completed with the uncountable boats and yachts from any place of the world, mooring at the port. The town of Hydra is the unique settlement of the island; it counts some 3000 permanent residents and presents the originality that no vehicles are allowed within it. The people, locals and visitors, go from one place to another only on foot or on donkeys’ back.

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The quay is the liveliest part of the settlement; a lot of nice old mansions are gathered here, some of which house today various public services and museums. Just behind the quay it is the starting point of the narrow scenic streets leading to the old medieval town at the hill of Kiafa with the nice view of the coast of Peloponnesus across.

Access to the town is possible only by ship. There are regular and frequent runs of every kind of ship, conventional or high speed ferries and flying dolphins. From the town you can get to any part of the island on foot, by a traditional donkey ride, as well as by excursion boats, by sea taxis and by private or rented yacht and boats.

Swimming is possible at the rocky beaches of Spilia and Ydronetta in the town, but there are also several beaches farer away, where you can get on foot.

The town offers a lot of alternatives for accommodation, food and drink and amusement.
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Sightseeing at the port and the coast

At the left side of the port the visitor may see the imposing statue of the heroic admiral of the Revolution of 1821 Andreas Miaoulis, a native of Hydra, overlooking the area. Just beside the statue it is the departing point of the road leading to Mandraki, situated at a short distance to the east. Mandraki used to be the port of Hydra, but today, instead of war ships you will see a well organized beach, full of hotels, taverns and facilities for sea sports.

In front of the quay you will see the old powder-magazine, today housing the Port Authorities; you will also see the new building housing the Historic Archives of Hydra. Going westwards there is the mansion of the famous Tsamados’ family, today housing the Merchant Marine Academy. Opposite the big breakwater it is situated the modern part of the town, with banks, public services, department stores, taverns, restaurants and cafés. At the same pedestrian coastal road it is found the Holy Monastery of Koimissi, dedicated to the Assumption of Virgin Mary. The most impressive building of the Monastery is the Catholicon of it, a three-aisled basilica of the mid 17th century. The church has a nice dome and two wonderful bell towers made of marble. Other buildings of the Monastery house today the Town Hall of Hydra and the Ecclesiastic and Byzantine Museum. In front of the Monastery the visitor will also see the imposing statue of the glorious Greek admiral and politician Pavlos Kountouriotes, placed at the center of the homonymous square.
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A narrow uphill street at the left side of the square leads the visitor to the Tombazis’ mansion, which today houses the Fine Arts School. The street after the breakwater will take you to the uphill rocky coast, where you will see the “Periptero” (kiosk), which in fact is the western emplacement of the old fortification of the port; the fans of Hydra pretend that this place is by far the most beautiful area of the town; once there you will also have the chance of a nice swimming at the beach of Spilia.

More at the left you will see the small pine wood with the mansion of the politician of the 19th century Georgios Kountouriotis within it, while at the top of this low hill you will see the old semi-ruined windmills, a witness of a glorious and prosperous past.

If you continue the road from Peripteron, you will find yourself at the scenic quarter of Avalki, with its buildings to hang on the steep mountainside, and then at the scenic beaches of Kaminia.
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Sightseeing within the town

Departing from the Holy Monastery of Koimissi and at the right of it, a street will lead the visitor inside the old town. There the visitor will see the mansion of Lazaros Kountouriotis, built in the 18th century and now housing several services of the National Historic Museum; just beside it, it is situated the church of Ypapante with the nicely elaborated wood carved icon screen. Passing by the church to the east, you will come across a small square, with a neoclassic building which houses the older pharmacy of the island, dated in the 19th century and still working. Close to the pharmacy you will find the central road of the island, leading to Kala Pigadia (“the good wells” in Greek), a quarter owing its name to the old wells that in the past and for two centuries supplied the town with potable water. Continuing the route uphill, the visitor arrives to the old quarter of Kiafa, which in fact is the castle of the town, formed by the external walls of the houses; arranged side by side, the buildings with the high fences protected the people from the pirates’ attacks and the various would-be invaders. On the top of the hill there is the church of Aghios Constantinos the Hydraean, the local saint. The church is built at the place of the family house of the saint. Once on the hill the visitor can also see the old church of Aghios Ioannis Nisteftis (St. John the Abstinent) with very interesting frescoes dated in the 18th century.

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Following the uphill road you will arrive high on the mountain, at the Holy Monastery of Prophet Elijah, which, during the internal strife in the period of the Revolution of 1821 had also served as a prison for the general Theodoros Kolokotronis. Close enough there is the women’s monastery of Aghia Eupraxia, with an impressive view of the town and the port of Hydra and the coast of Peloponnesus across.

There are a lot of sightseeing we could recommend; strolling about the town is really endless, but we think it is better to leave you discover this tableau vivant with the white and grey colors of the town to contrast the blue of the sky, admire the excellent architecture, enjoy romantic walks in the narrow streets and relax in the calmness of the old town. And, when you are filled of the landscape and desire something more lively and modern, the nightlife, the loud music and the drinks of the bars and clubs will bring you back to the present.
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