“The originality of the Hydra Island is displayed by the atmosphere on it, with no cars allowed on the island. Everyone, including locals and visitors, move around Hydra either by foot or on a donkey – the main transportation here.”
Hydra Island is one of the Saronic islands, close to Athens.
It is considered the most cosmopolitan island near Athens. Because of that, many celebrities from Greece and abroad own houses here, or spend their vacation.
Hydra Island is a very popular tourist destination. That is due to its picturesque old town with its red-tiled houses and narrow stone-paved streets. Once a major seafaring community, these days the island’s wealth mainly comes from tourism, but fishermen and farmers can still be found. Because of its close proximity to Athens, many islanders go there to find work during the winter months.
In the 1950s the film Boy on a Dolphin was filmed on the island, and ever since an array of artists, writers, and celebrities set up home on this little island off the Peloponnesian coast.
The arrangement of the town of Hydra is amphitheatricall within a closed bay. The location is approximately in the middle of the northern coast of the island. Bare rocks and steep mountains surround the town. The first impression of the visitor, as the ship reaches the port, is the image of the Impressive Old Mansions overlooking the town. What follows is the view of the Old Defensive Bastions. There are 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 in 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’ backs.
There are several Monasteries in the hills beyond the town, both over an hour’s hike away, but worthwhile for the views and the sense of history they provide.
Hydra Island has been inhabited since Pre Historic Times. Some believe it was the home of the legendary Hydra – the horrible monster Heracles killed, and thus the island’s name. Although little has been recorded of the island’s ancient history, but it is known that it played an important role in the 15th century, when people from the mainland and other islands sought refuge from attacking pirates and Turks.
Hydra Island had an important fleet in the 18th century. As a result, the people decided to nickname it “Little England” because of its European flare and commerce.
It was one of the strongest islands during the War of Independence, which began in 1821, and contributed with its huge fleet of 130 ships. Many of the buildings around the harbor date back to the 18th century.