The Cyclades

What comes up to your mind when you hear the name Cyclades? To me, a lot of things come up, and in particular five elements seeming to be the most important. The sea, the sky, the history, the mighty wind and the light, the light, the light…

I visited the Cyclades this year, in the month of May, and there was still the flavour of spring in the air. The Cyclades are islands situated in the Aegean Sea, below Attica. They are named Cylades because of their circular formation (in Greek kyklos) around their capital, the isle of Syros. From the islands of Naxos and Paros comes the marble that the ancient Greeks used for their sculptures, and here one can understand how the Cyclades played a major role in the birth of the Greek culture. Today, some of the islands are known and estimated as holiday destinations and can be very busy in summer. But don’t worry, if you visit the Cyclades in the off-season, you will encounter quietness, a beautiful sea, impressive scenery with its Mediterranean vegetation, many picturesque villages, friendly inhabitants and very often many taverns and restaurant offering an excellent cuisine. In summer, the strong Meltemi wind blows, which helps bearing the suffocating summer heat.

The Cyclades are also well known because of their characteristic architecture with their cubic houses, painted white and with blue shutters and doors. This is the so-called insular style. However, there are other islands like Syros and Andros where other styles are predominant, such as the neoclassical in Syros and the continental in Andros. I’ve just seen a few of the Cyclades: Paros, Mykonos, Andros, Syros and Tinos, and I have to say that each one has got its own unmistakable character. The most unforgettable thing to me is the sun on the Aegean Sea and its powerful light making everything surreal.

11.11.2005 / Translated from italian by Giorgia Guarini

Paros, church