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The Lady of the Saronic Gulf

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Discover Hydra

Hydra is one of the most cosmopolitan of the Greek islands. Despite being small and rocky, the “Lady of the Saronic Gulf” is unrivalled in terms of charm. The imposing mansions of the island’s sea captains reflect a centuries-old maritime tradition, while its excellent museums showcase its glorious contribution to the Greek War of Independence.

Hydra first came to international prominence in the 50s and 60s, when it was discovered by painters, poets and artists, including Leonard Cohen, who lived there for a time. Its role as a film location turned the bare rock into a famous Mediterranean resort frequented by international stars, while it was a source of inspiration for major intellectuals and artists.

Hydra remains a unique destination for a romantic getaway and is a place with a distinct architecture and a historic identity. It is a paradise for lovers of unspoiled nature, a refined atmosphere and the arts, as it is famed for the quality of its cultural life.

Discover the small island of the Saronic Gulf by choosing one of the ferry tickets to Hydra.

5 memorable experiences on Hydra
  1. The spectacular “Miaoulia” Festival at the end of June. The cultural events commemorating the death of Admiral Andreas Miaoulis last two weeks. The highlight of the fortnight is an impressive re-enactment of the 1821 Battle of Hydra, with the burning of a replica Turkish frigate. The festival ends with fireworks being let off.
  2. If you choose one of the itineraries to Hydra, don’t miss the opportunity to climb the Hill of Saint Athanasios, the island’s highest point, to admire the 7 ruined windmills and the excellent views of the Aegean.
  3. A stop at the legendary Red House (1786) in the picturesque fishing port of Kaminia. It was once the residence of Admiral Miaoulis and is now an art gallery.
  4. A visit to the historic Monastery of the Prophet Elijah at the top of the 588-metre-high Mount Eros. Theodoros Kolokotronis and other military leaders of the Revolution were imprisoned in its cells in 1825. The area offers unparalleled views of the Saronic Gulf.
  5. A mini cruise to the beautiful neighbouring island of Dokos, made famous by the world’s oldest known shipwreck, from the 3rd millennium BC, which was discovered nearby.
Beaches of Hydra

Rocky and pebbly, the island’s beaches stand out for their rugged beauty and crystal-clear waters. Some are accessible on foot, while most can be reached only by sea taxi. It is worth discovering:

  • The rocks of the famous Spilia and the deck of the popular Hydroneta near the port of Hydra, which are perfect platforms for diving into the deep waters and for sunbathing with a refreshing cocktail.
  • The pebble beach at Mikro Kamini, its shallow waters making it ideal for families.
  • The idyllic tourist beach of Vlychos with its beautiful reddish-grey pebbles, next to the church of Saint Charalambos.
  • The emerald waters of Bisti Bay, surrounded by a dense pine forest, to dive off the rocks and go snorkelling.
  • SaintSaint Nicholas, well protected from the wind, for relaxation in the cool shade of the pine trees and underwater exploration.
  • The island’s only sandy beach, Mandraki, with its calm shallow sea and excellent water sport facilities, is great for families.
Postcards from Hydra: 10 things not to miss

Hydra Town
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.

The Bastions
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.

Project Space
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.

Rafalia Pharmacy
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.

Tastes of Hydra

The island’s picturesque tavernas have delicious slow-cooked food made to authentic homemade recipes, as well as fresh fish. Calamari from Hydra is the king of seafood, while its pear-shaped amydalota (almond cookies) are a favourite local treat.

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