Thursday, 5 June 2014

Lemnian Venetian Houses

Lemnian Venetian Houses

Traditional Venetian Mansions

The bay in Myrian, with Venetian houses of various styles and ages

Around Myrina, on the hills, at the port, along the seafront a mixture of offical and private Venetian style houses.

The Archbishop's House

The Local Museum


The boundaries of house styles correlate with those of past conquerors, and with trade. This does not necessarily correspond to today’s national borders. When you look at a map of Lemnos you can see that its architecture would have been influenced in the past by that of Constantinople, by ideas brought back by traders in the Black Sea, and by trader with Asian ports down what is now the Turkish coast.


A Private Home, on Romeikos Gia Los

There have also been long periods of Venetian rule in the Greek mainland and the islands, including Lemnos. That period varies from place to place, but overall it lasted from the 13C to the 17C. In the Aegean this rule extended was until the end of the 18C and the influence of this style continued under the French and British.


Traditional houses on the hills around Myrina, before modern cement reproductions

Lemnian mansions appeared in the 18C as a result of a liberalizing of trade within the Ottoman Empire. In the case of our house this resulted in Takis great grandfather going to Alexandria to set up a business, a business in which his grandfather was later employed. Here the traders encountered more Western building and decorating styles.


A renovated private home, showing the Turkish influence


But this period also covered difficult times in Greece, with external and internal wars, earthquakes, and famine. This boom and bust in the economical fortunes of many families meant that when things were good the traders would pour money back into their home island estates and villages and at other times these houses might be left desolate. In good times teams of workers would be called in to construct the superb mansions that still can be seen in parts of Myrina and other places in Greece.


The port in Myrina, lined with tavernas and hotels showing various styles

In our house one can see that an old house has been altered to obtain a more neo-classic style with a central door and windows placed symmetrically. But there is also an Ottoman influence on the ground floor, with the large open entrance with windows looking down on it from above. There is also a noticeable Alexandrian influence with a more Western decorating style – the light blue colour of early paintwork, and the use of framed pictures rather that the more eastern painted walls.

2. Traditional Local Homes

Neighbours outside their mother's old house
Single story with tile roofs, or two story with a basement.


3. New Homes

A new home, housing various generations
Grand reproductions, often housing various generations of the same family on each floor - or a floor may be let to other local inhabitants.


Holiday units, without top floors - yet!
Often homes are built without being finished; probably hoping to develop as self-catering summer lets.


A Beautiful Hotel, now empty for at least 8 years!
Very large hotels are often empty. These struggle to make a living as Myrina only fills with tourists for two months of the year. 












4. Myrina as in Athens - an Intermingling

In most suburbs you’ll see Venetian mansions, smaller homes, new reproductions and ruins, side by side.

A typical Athenian scene, showing the mix of old houses and new architecture


A private house and another turned into a taverna

The mixture of private and comercial houses on Romeikos Gia Los

5. Maintenance of Seaside Homes!

The large old mansion, before paintig and renovation


A large old mansion, now renovated by the local council

Anestis repainting our house, an almost yearly job!

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