Built on the slopes of a bare rock curving around the harbour, Hydra Town is a model of architectural excellence and aesthetic elegance. The fortress-like stone mansions that dominate the island’s port stand in such perfect symmetry to one another that the whole town resembles a living painting.
These imposing structures, with their enormous cannons, stand to the right and left of the port. Once the island’s main defence against pirate raids and in times of war, they are now one of the most beautiful spots from which to watch the sunset.
The DESTE Foundation’s cultural centre (in the Old Slaughterhouse), presents some of the summer’s most innovative contemporary art exhibitions.
Sophia Loren’s Mill
Hydra’s most famous windmill is located above the cannons and is marked by a sculpture inspired by the legendary “The boy and the dolphin”, which was filmed on the island in the 1960s and starred Sophia Loren.
The Cathedral of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary
The island’s iconic cathedral, located in a historic 17th-century monastery complex in the port of Hydra, is a unique work of art.
Tetsis Museum and Studio
Dedicated to the life and work of the painter and academic Panagiotis Tetsis, this wonderful museum has been set up in the family home where he was raised. Its collection includes important works by the artist.
This pharmacy, which is one of the oldest in Europe, has been operating continuously since 1890 in what is now a listed building. Visitors can admire the original period furniture, a rare collection of porcelain and glass containers, an array of tools, and some old editions of pharmaceutical books.
The island’s mansions
Built in the late 18th and early 19th century, Hydra’s impressive captain’s houses are symbols of the island’s glorious history and the wealth created by trade and shipping. Most belong to historic local families, while some are now occupied by museums and cultural institutions. The most outstanding of the more than 300 on the island are the Tombazis, Tsamados and Lazaros Kountouriotis mansions (home, respectively, to an annex of the School of Fine Arts since 1936, the Marine Merchant Academy, and a branch of the National Historical Museum), as well as the Kriezis, Voulgaris and Bountouris mansions, and others.
Hydra Museum and Historical Archive
Housed in a grand marble building, the museum takes visitors on a unique journey into the island’s heroic past through priceless treasures from the years of the Greek War of Independence. The paintings in the magnificent history gallery include oils and watercolours by great Greek and foreign artists, depicting ships that fought in the war. The library’s collection includes thousands of valuable editions, rare manuscripts, and historical documents from the early 18th century. They include the original Charta of Rigas Feraios.
The oldest quarter in Hydra displays the characteristic architecture of a medieval fortress and is built on a hill. It is a charming fairytale setting of narrow paved streets and stone houses in bright colours, with white courtyards hidden behind high walls. There is a stunning view from the top of the hill.