Category: Architecture & design (page 1 of 3)

The splendour of Santorini

Santorini was filmed during April 2013  by dimid, a timelapse photographer from Minsk, Belarus, and his colleague Zweizwei from Korea.

 

Bedazzling beauty: Now that it’s a brand-new year, people around the world are beginning to book their spring, summer and fall trips to Greece. Since many will be spending some time on Santorini, I’m posting some inspiring videos that may help them plan what to see — and perhaps even where to stay.

The film at the top of this post is a gripping 2.5-minute timelapse video that highlights some of the island’s superlative scenery, and shows why Santorini is not only one of the most popular destinations in Greece, but also one of its most well-known islands worldwide.

Expedia’s Santorini Vacation Travel Guide video features five minutes of magnificent island views and scenery

 

The video above was produced by Expedia several years ago to accompany its Santorini Vacation Travel Guide, but its images are timeless. Slightly more than 5 minutes long, the film features many of the island’s renowned sunset and caldera views, but also shows some of Santorini’s stunning beaches and coastal scenery.

The video below is over 15 minutes long and it, too, showcases the enticing views and mesmerizing scenery that enthrall the nearly two million people who visit the island each year. But it also spotlights many of the island’s most popular places to stay, dine and drink, and demonstrates how dozens of Santorini’s cliff-edge hotels, infinity swimming pools, bars and restaurants look as luscious as the surrounding natural landscapes and seascapes.  

And if you’re still trying to decide where to stay and dine during your trip, this video could help you narrow your options — signs for many of the resorts and restaurants can be seen in the film.

Enjoy the amazing views, and happy planning!

Santorini HD The best island in Greece was filmed by Sim-Xat HD (YouTube contributor Σιμος Χατζης)

Cool things to see in and around Andros Town

Andros Town

Red-roofed buildings on the northeast side of Andros Town

 

Eye & camera candy:  If you enjoy exploring Greek island towns, either simply to stroll around and just see what’s there, to learn more about the destination’s history, or to discover interesting subjects for photography, painting or other artistic hobbies, you won’t be disappointed with Andros Town. 

During our Andros visit this spring, we spent three days at Chora (the Greek name for the island’s main town) and wandered its streets, lanes, and seaside areas several times. The town has many familiar features and amenities we enjoy seeing and photographing on other Greek islands — outdoor bars and cafes, public squares, picturesque churches and chapels,  impressive local architecture, and cats aplenty — but it also boasts its own special landmarks and historic sites, plus distinctive natural surroundings of seasides, beaches, bays and mountains.

Unfortunately, jet lag kept us from exploring Andros Town as thoroughly as we would have liked. Though we did view a lot of interesting sights and scenery, when it came time to move to a beach resort area on the south side of the island, we realized there had been much, much more we didn’t get to see. But that just means there will be plenty of new things to experience the next time we visit Chora. 

Page 2 of this post features photo slideshows of some of the sights we saw during our various walkabouts. Click here or on the link below to access the photos.

You can view full-size versions of all of the pictures, along with hundreds more, in our Andros Town album on the mygreecetravelblog Flickr page.

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A Sifnos island icon: The Church of the 7 Martyrs

Chapel of the 7 Martyrs

Like hundreds of other picturesque chapels in the Cyclades, the Church of the 7 Martyrs on Sifnos has a traditional Cycladic design with whitewashed walls and a shiny blue dome

 

Chapel of the 7 Martyrs

but its startling location — perched atop a rocky peninsula pounded by powerful winds and waves — makes it one of the most memorable and impressive shrines in the region

 

Windswept wonder: We have seen hundreds if not thousands of blue-domed churches in Greece, but the Chapel of the 7 Martyrs on Sifnos easily ranks as one of the most memorable.

We got to see it during a four-day visit to Sifnos in late September 2007, and were practically blown away by the experience — and not just because the chapel is such an impressive sight. 

It was warm and sunny when we arrived at Sifnos on a Friday afternoon, but conditions changed abruptly. Within less than two hours, near gale-force winds began blowing, followed overnight by thick, dark stormclouds and periods of light rain. The gusts were so strong that rough seas forced the cancellation of ferry service for the next three days. But we didn’t let the unrelenting wind stop us from sightseeing. Occasional breaks in the cloudcover motivated us to get out and explore,  and we spent one day hiking to the villages of Artemonas, Apollonia, Kato Petali and Kastro.  

 

A breathtaking sight below Kastro village

We got our first glimpse of the Chapel of the 7 Martyrs while following a clifftop footpath that winds along the the east side of Kastro, about 90 meters above the sea. It was breathtaking to look down and suddenly see the whitewashed, blue-domed church far below, perched atop a rugged, rocky peninsula that juts into the Aegean. We saw a group of tourists making their way down a twisting, stone-paved path that leads to the church, and decided to make the trek as well.  But the blasting winds actually stopped us in our tracks a few times, and more than once nearly blew us off balance. When one particularly strong gust nearly knocked down a woman walking behind me, she and her companions turned back, saying they felt it was too dangerous to venture any further. But we plodded on, climbing down dozens of steps and then up a short hillside to reach the church.  

The wind was even worse here, but we couldn’t go inside the church to escape it because the door was locked (apparently the chapel is open only several times a year for special occasions and feast days.) It was almost impossible to hold our cameras steady to take photos, even on the south side of the building where the wind was partially blocked. In fact, the blustery conditions were so unpleasant we stayed only a couple of minutes to view the coastal scenery before making a hasty climb back to the sheltered lanes in Kastro.

Despite the inclement conditions, it was well worth braving the elements to briefly see the chapel. If anything, the wind and the surrounding whitecapped sea gave the Chapel of the 7 Martyrs even more of an exhilarating “wow” factor.

Below are several more of our own photos of the church. You can see full-size versions of them, along with 20 additional images, in my Chapel of the 7 Martyrs album on Flickr.  At the bottom of the post are two wonderful pictures of the chapel that were shot by photographers from France and Greece.

 

Chapel of the 7 Martyrs

Much of the chapel’s tremendous visual appeal stems from its location on such inhospitable coastal terrain

 

Chapel of the 7 Martyrs

Dozens of stone steps lead down the cliffside to the church

 

 Chapel of the 7 Martyrs

Here’s a view of the steps from a point far down the cliff 

 

Chapel of the 7 Martyrs

After descending dozens of steps, visitors face a short uphill climb to the chapel. A terrace that wraps around the church offers amazing views of the sea, the Sifnos coast and Kastro village, but we weren’t able to enjoy the scenery because of the high winds.

 

Chapel of the 7 Martyrs

Looking northwest along the rugged coast of Sifnos 

 

7 Martyrs Chapel on Sifnos photo by Giannis Kontos

A view of the Chapel of the 7 Martyrs in weather conditions even more severe than we experienced. This image, which has been widely circulated in social media, was captured by Sifnos photographer Giannis Kontos.

 

7 Martyrs Chapel on Sifnos photo by Charley Lataste

Another image that has been shared extensively on social media is this sunset view of the chapel, shot by photographer Charly Lataste.

 

How a cultural renaissance is reshaping Athens

Church of Panagia Kapnikarea

Throngs of shoppers and tourists on Ermou Street pass by the 1,000-year-old Byzantine Church of Panagia Kapnikarea

 

Gritty, not pretty: After six years of agonizing economic hardship, the City of Athens and its residents appear to be “rebounding” and turning their attention “to the task of building a better future,” according to the Canadian national newspaper, The Globe and Mail.

“More and more Athenians are involved in a kind of civic infill activity, re-imagining the town, improvising social services and engaging in what Greek photographer Eirini Vourloumis calls ‘a forced renegotiation of Greek identity,’” columnist Robert Everett-Green observes in a feature article published recently in the Globe.

“Now, ambitious plans are afoot to remodel the downtown in more sustainable ways, and to add cultural capital to civic life. Innovative restorations, led by artists and arts organizations, are reclaiming rundown industrial districts. There is a feeling here that creativity is the last and best resource when other resources fail,” he notes.

 

Athens graffiti

Athens is “gritty,” not pretty, with “rampant” graffiti and street art, but arts and culture are leading the city to a “rebirth” as it recovers from the harsh economic crisis of the past six years, The Globe and Mail newspaper observes.

 

Everett-Green visited Athens last November, and the Globe published his feature story The Energy of Defeat on the front page of its weekend travel section this past Saturday (March 28 2015).

The article also was published on the newspaper’s website, where it was retitled Athens isn’t pretty, but it’s exciting: discover the city’s cultural rebirth.

Everett-Green examines how artists are playing a leading role in the revitalization of a city he describes as “gritty, restless and spontaneous.” He looks at major cultural projects and initiatives, including:

♦ the new Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center that will house the Greek National Opera and the National Library of Greece;

♦ the Onassis Foundation’s Rethink Athens project, which will transform the city center along Panepistimiou Street with ambitious public realm improvements and beautification;

♦ the Technopolis cultural event hub in the former premises of a coal and gas plant;

♦  the revitalization of the once-industrial Metaxourgio district; and

♦ the National Museum of Contemporary Art, which has opened in a restored brewery building.

Click here to read the full story on the Globe and Mail website.

 

Click on the arrow to view this 13-minute virtual tour of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center being built in the Kallithea district of Athens, about 4 km from the city center.

 

Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center

This photo shows an aerial view of construction work on the massive Kallithea site where the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center (SNFCC) is being built. Designed by renowned architect Renzo Piano, the center will include a new building for the Greek National Opera, a new National Library of Greece, and an extensive landscaped park. This photo is from the SNFCC project page on the Renzo Piano Building Workshop website,.

I wish I was going here for dinner!

Alati seafood restaurant

I love the high arched ceiling and rustic stone walls of the dining room at Alati, a new seafood restaurant that has just opened at the Vedema Resort on Santorini. Located in Megalochori village, the Starwood Luxury Collection member resort consists of suites and villas in 45 coquette houses built around a 400-year-old winery. This photo of Alati’s stunning interior caught my eye when it was posted on the Vedema Resort Facebook page today. To see more of the exclusive resort, which follows “a barefoot chic philosophy,” check out this 1 minute 46-second promotional video (below) from the Vedema website.

 

Imagine swimming with this view of Syros!

An infinity pool with an amazing view of the Kini Bay region of Syros island

 

I felt a tinge of envy when we saw the infinity swimming pool at this hilltop villa while hiking through the Danakos area of Syros island last week. The pool and adjacent terrace enjoy jaw-dropping views of the scenic Kini Bay region of Syros as well as Giaros island in the distance. The sunset views from the pool must be incredible since they’re spectacular even from sea level in Kini village. Below is a side view of the pool and villa. Click on the photos to see larger-size images.

 

 A villa with an infinity swimming pool on a hilltop in the Danakos area of Syros

 

 

Acropolis Museum turns 5

Acropolis Museum

Looking toward the Acropolis Museum from a vantage point on the Acropolis itself. Below is a zoom view of the museum, which turns 5 years old on June 20. I shot the photos on June 1 during a weekend visit to Athens.

Acropolis Museum

 

Birthday bargain: If you’re going to be in Athens on June 20, make plans to pay the Acropolis Museum a visit. The beautiful building will mark its fifth anniversary that day, and will be charging a reduced admission fee of only €3 to celebrate the occasion. (That’s two Euros cheaper than the already bargain-priced entrance charge.)

Exhibition areas will be open from 8 a.m. until midnight, so you’ll have plenty of time to drop by and enjoy the museum’s permanent collections as well as its current special exhibition, Archaic Colors.

The museum will be hosting two special events for the big day.  One involves the use of three-dimensional digital image technology to show how copper weapons and bridles would appear on the horsemen on the west frieze of the Parthenon. The second is a 9.30 p.m. concert by musical artist Leon of Athens in the museum’s courtyard entrance.

I described the museum in my March 3 2012 post, Acropolis Museum is a must-see Athens attraction, which includes photos the museum provided of some of the spectacular items in its collection. And in my post Another Acropolis Museum treasure: food earlier this year, I reported that VirtualTourist.com had ranked the Acropolis Museum Restaurant as one of the world’s top 5 museum restaurants.

Below are several more pictures I took of the museum exterior last weekend. (Although photography is permitted in most of its galleries, the Acropolis Museum does not permit media publication of such images, so I didn’t take any shots inside. The wonderful treasures are best viewed in person in any event, so be sure to schedule time to see the museum if you haven’t been there already.)

 Acropolis Museum

A street view of the museum’s eastern facade

  Acropolis Museum

Visitors gather on the museum’s entrance plaza, which overlooks archaeological ruins discovered during construction of the building

 Acropolis Museum

Architectural details on the building’s eastern facade

 Acropolis Museum

A walkway leading to the museum entrance

 Acropolis Museum

Window and facade details on the museum exterior

Acropolis Museum

The museum’s rooftop cafe terrace has views of the Acropolis

 Acropolis Museum

A view of the Acropolis from the museum’s entrance plaza. The large sign on the side of the building at left is a promotional poster for the museum’s Archaic Colors exhibition, running until July 31.

 

Aenaon Villas’ traditional design blends beautifully into Santorini’s spellbinding caldera landscape

Aenaon Villas Santorini

Aenaon Villas sits nestled against the side of a rugged cliff on Santorini’s spectacular caldera. Designed in traditional Cycladic architecture, Aenaon’s seven luxury villas boast breathtaking views of nearby Thirasia island (upper left)

 

 

Aenaon Villas swimming pool views of the Santorini caldera

as well as Imerovigli village and Skaros Rock (upper left), the Nea Kameni volcano island (top center) and of course the mesmerizing blue waters of the Aegean Sea. Click on the image to view a larger-size photo.

 

 

Perfect fit: Spectacular scenery and magnificent views are the top two natural attractions that always take my breath away on Santorini.  But the island’s outstanding architecture can leave me almost as speechless — particularly some of the traditionally-designed homes and hotels perched precariously on the crests and sides of the precipitous caldera cliffs.

In fact, one of the things I enjoy most about walking the scenic clifftop path from Fira to Oia is admiring the architecture and design of buildings we pass along the way. I am absolutely fascinated by the sight of hotel suites, terraces and infinity swimming pools built into the sides of sheer cliff walls that rise hundreds of feet above the sea. I am also amazed to see villas and boutique hotels under construction on cliffside real estate I would have considered to be unlikely places for new building development.

 

Captivating views on the Fira to Oia cliff walk

We haven’t done a cliff walk since our last visit to Santorini in 2006, but I know I will blown away by the natural and man-made scenery whenever we return to take the hike again. The views of the caldera, the sea, the Nea Kameni volcano and nearby Thirasia island are timeless, and will eternally be captivating. The four cliffside villages (Fira, Firostefani, Imerovigli and Oia) will still be impressive, too. And some new (since our last visit) developments along the caldera — like Aenaon Villas near Imerovigli — will be waiting to “wow” me.

A complex of seven luxurious villas, Aenaon was built in 2009 and occupies a superb vantage point along the cliff path between Imerovigli and Oia. Its traditional Cycladic architecture, designed by Giorgos Zacharopoulos, features natural elements including boulders and stone walls that enable the villas to blend perfectly into their surroundings. Though they’re certainly eye-catching and beguiling, the brilliant white buildings don’t detract from the spectacular scenery or appear out of place — they actually complement the rocky, rugged terrain and add drama to the location’s imposing landscape.

 

Killer views from terraces and the infinity pool

But Aenaon isn’t just beautiful buildings with killer views from the villas, terraces, infinity pool and other points on the property. According to travellers who have reviewed the villas on sites like TripAdvisor.com, Aenaon is a “paradise” and a place “dreams are made of.” As of May 10, Aenaon was the #1 B&B and Inn property on the TripAdvisor chart for Imerovigli (out of 23 listings). It had 297 reviews, 293 of which rated it “excellent” and the other four “very good.”

Below is a series of photos of Aenaon Villas which proprietors Giorgos and Alexandra have kindly permitted me to republish on my blog. Check the Aenaon Villas website for further information about the villas as well as more stunning photos of the property, including the interiors of the suites. The website includes a chart listing rates for the four main travel seasons that Aenaon is open, and has a section where you can check availability and book online. Dozens more beautiful photos of the villas can be seen on the Aenaon Villas Facebook page, or by clicking on this link to the Aenaon Villas Pinterest profile.

 

 View toward the villas from the infinity pool at Aenaon Villas in Santorini

An evening view of the villas from the terrace next to the infinity pool. Click the image to view a full-size photo.

 

 

Aenaon Villas Santorini

A panoramic view from the infinity pool terrace at sunset

 

 

Aenaon Villas Santorini

Villa view from the far side of the infinity pool

 

 

Aenaon Villas  Santorini

Villa Elidami, one of the seven luxury villas at Aenaon

 

 

Aenaon Villas Santorini

I love the sharp colour contrasts between the brown volcanic landscape, the cobalt sky, the turquoise pool water and the stark white buildings and grounds

 

 

Aenaon Villas Santorini

This photo by Vangelis Beltzenitis captures the infinity pool and terrace at sunset. The pool and deck offer jaw-dropping views of Imerovigli village and Skaros Rock (left) as well as the volcanic isles Nea Kameni and Palia Kameni (center).

 

 

Aenaon Villas

Swimming pool and terrace view toward Thirasia island

 

 

Aenaon Villas

I could admire the scenery from one of those lounge chairs for hours on end

 

 

Aenaon Villas

The caldera cliffs loom large to the south of the infinity pool

 

 

Aenaon Villas

This photo by Vangelis Beltzenitis shows two of the beautiful pools and a view of the marvellous caldera scenery

 

 

Aenaon Villas

Photographer Louisa Nikolaidou captured this side view of Aenaon Villas with part of Oia village visible in the background.

 

 

Aenaon Villas

The entrance to a quiet courtyard sitting area

 

 

Aenaon Villas

Another view from the swimming pool

 

 

Aenaon Villas

A Vangelis Beltzenitis photo capturing the sky, one of the villas, and some of the surrounding landscape

 

 

Aenaon Villas

Twilight view from the seaview terrace

 

 

Aenaon Villas

Twilight view of one of the villas

 

 

Aenaon Villas

The villas and a large stone wall behind the swimming pool

 

 

Aenaon Villas

A breathtaking view from the swimming pool at sunset

 

 

Aenaon Villas

This photo of a surreal cloud formation passing above the infinity pool was posted on the Aenaon Villas Facebook page on May 3

 

 

Giorgos and Alexandra from Aenaon Villas

Giorgos and Alexandra are the proprietors and hosts at Aenaon Villas 

 

 

Aenaon Villas

Succulent vegetation on the rugged landscape beside the villas

 

 

Aenaon Villas

Just one of the many exhilarating views from Aenaon Villas

 

 

Aenaon Villas

This is my favourite photo of Aenaon Villas because it highlights the buildings’ traditional Cycladic architecture while clouds provide a dramatic backdrop. The villa complex was designed by Giorgos Zacharopoulos.

 

 

The most colourful hotel in the Cyclades

Sun of Mykonos Studios

Eye-popping colours greet guests at the Sun of Mykonos Studios in the Klouvas area of Mykonos island, as this image from the studios’ Facebook page illustrates

 

 

Kaleidoscope of colour: A brightly painted hotel on Mykonos catches plenty of attention from motorists driving the highway from Mykonos Town to Ano Mera village and many of the island’s famous beaches.

With its bold red, blue, orange, yellow and green doors, shutters, handrails and decor accents, along with landscaped grounds bursting with brilliant bougainvillea blooms, geraniums and other flowers, Sun of Mykonos Studios is a veritable kaleidoscope of colour that turns the heads of many people passing by on the island’s busy main highway.

But I’m surprised that its reasonable rates don’t stop more people in their tracks or draw a waiting list a mile long.

Although Mykonos is one of the most expensive tourist destinations in Greece, Sun of Mykonos offers 35 air conditioned studios at amazingly affordable rates.

From September 1 to 15 of this year, for example, the standard nightly rate for a double room was €40, while a triple was €60 and an apartment for 4 persons was just €80. Even in August, which is the ultimate peak season for travel to the Greek Islands, a room was still available for €85 per night.

 

Sun of Mykonos Studios

The Sun of Mykonos Studios has a swimming pool with sunbeds and a poolside bar. The property is only 900 meters from Ftelia beach.

 

 

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Pic of the day: Three windmills on Ios

Three windmills on a hillside above Chora village on Ios

A row of windmills on a hillside above Chora village on Ios

 

 

Pic of the day: A mosaic at the Patmos monastery

St John the Theologian icon at the Holy Monastery of Patmos

This mosaic icon of St John the Theologian greets pilgrims passing through the entrance (below) to the Monastery of St John on Patmos island

 

 

the entrance to the Monastery of St John on Patmos island

 

 

Pic of the day: Chimneys on a Mykonos villa

Traditionally designed chimneys rise from the roof of a private villa on Mykonos

Three traditional Mykonian kapassi (chimneys) rise above a private villa on a hillside high above the Tourlos new port on Mykonos island

 

 

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