Hydra is one of those destinations that holds a fascinating appeal among an eclectic mix of global travellers. Mostly because of Hydra’s cultural past.
An artistic history
Hydra has since the 1950s drawn a creative crowd of world famous artists, singers, writers, poets and intellectuals. All these artists have transformed the island into a sought after contemporary hub. This includes the likes of foreign artists such as Leonard Cohen, Sophia Loren, Henry Miller, and Brice Marden.
Hydra has also been visited by a number of Greek artists and other well-known figures. The most famous were the poet George Seferis, the author D. Petsalis, and painters Nicos Hantzikyriakos-Ghikas, Panagiotis Tetsis, Nicolaos Engonopoulos and Periklis Vyzantios, among others.
Today, Hydra remains a source of creative inspiration to a number of European painters and sculptors. Many of them have even moved to the island to continue their artistic pursuits. This includes Natacha Best, a French watercolourist who divides her time between Paris and Hydra, Pauline Keaney, a printmaker and painter who draws her inspiration from the surrounding natural environment, Jacqueline Savidge, a creative spirit who moved to Hydra some 30 years ago and who delves into a variety of art, and many more.
A source of literary inspiration
Much literature has been written about the island. Hydra has also served as the setting of a variety of books. Some well-known pieces are the 2003 Hydra and the Bananas of Leonard Cohen by Roger Green, the 1980 Hydra by Catherine Vanderpool, and many more. Popular movies have contributed considerably to the fame of the island. Some of them are Boy on a Dolphin featuring Sophia Loren, and Phaedra starring Melina Mercouri and Anthony Perkins.
Rich in culture
The island is a fascinating destination to explore what with its 300 or so churches, 6 monasteries, a plethora of cultural museums, and statues of war heroes, all of which speak of a vivid historical past.
For those interested in the history of the island, the Historical Archives Museum of Hydra houses an archive of diverse relics dating back to the period 1708 – 1865. Located in a stylish stone mansion, you will get to view great exhibits comprised of artefacts from the world wars, the Balkan Wars and the Greek War of Independence. This includes maps, books, manuscripts, costumes, and more.
The Ecclesiastical museum found above Hydra’s port is another interesting place to visit. This museum is located in the Church of Assumption (or the Cathedral of Hydra as it is otherwise known). It contains an amazing selection of Byzantine icons, beautifully decorated holy gospels and other religious artefacts.
Another place worth exploring is the Lazaros Koundouriotis mansion. This house museum contains a selection of paintings by the artist Periklis Byzantios and his son Dikos, as well as an ethnographic area with a collection of items such as clothing, costumes, jewellery and pottery, of Greek origin.
It’s clear that Hydra has much to offer any traveller with a range of interests. Even if just for a short visit, there is something for everyone to do to create great holiday memories.