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Santorini Cave Houses

No one should resist the temptation of staying in a cave transformed to a hotel room! Domelike roofs, narrow facades, long spaces inside, traditional decoration and furniture make them popular to tourists and famous all around the world.

The oldest and most simple form of residence in the Aegean is what we call cave houses, meaning the traditional buildings which are found inside the rocks with a domelike roof, a narrow fašade and narrow but long spaces inside. Santorini is known for its cave houses and people from all over the world come to the island just to see them while some specifically ask to book cave houses - which are transformed to hotel rooms by the hotel owners - as long as they reside in the island for vacations. According to the tradition the cave houses were created by ship crews in order to survive and have a place of residence inside them despite the steepness of the cliff. Some others say that some cave houses were also used as stables for the mules and other animals.

santorini hotels - cave room santorini hotels - cave room

The cave houses are divided in two parts. The front part contains the kitchen and a living room while the bedroom is at the back. The two areas are separated by a wall with openings to let the air and light enter the back of the cave house as well. The only source of light and air for these houses is the main entrance which is usually in the middle or to the right, a skylight at the top and the windows which are on the left side. For that reason the ventilation of the cave houses is problematic although they are usually cool and the temperature of the walls is stabilized at about 18 Celsius degrees. The bad ventilation also creates problems of dampness and that - why it is unhealthy living in some of these houses for a long time.

The reason why the roof is semi-cylindrical is because it helps the light and air increase to the back of the houses. Their role is very important especially during the warm days that due to their height the warm air is concentrated at the top and leaves easily from the skylight. The bathroom is usually outside.

santorini hotels - house santorini hotels - cave room

A certain technique that the Santorinian people still use until today in house building is the application of mud (Santorinian dirt and water) on the walls along with some small parts of red rocks that are added for the reinforcement of the mixture. Sometimes they even use pressed cement with red or white color to cover all floors and surfaces of the internal and external spaces.

If there was space there was also a small garden outside the house where herbs and flowers were planted adding an extra note to the already colorful environment of the island.

As I mentioned before many hotels in Santorini have turned the cave houses in hotel rooms. Some of these hotels are four and five stars and the tourists who visit them are numerous. Of course, the dampness - in some of them - and lack of natural light at the back usually in the bathrooms and bedrooms cannot be avoided but they are so traditional that few can resist. The hotel managers take care of the decoration, the colors, the furniture, the lighting and the amenities so the above mentioned problems are easily bypassed, if noticed at all, but have them in mind if you ever decide to visit such a hotel so as to know what to expect. If you want my opinion, don’t miss the opportunity to stay in a cave house since it is an incomparable experience and I’m sure that you won’t regret it!

The pictures above show you how the caves are when they are first discovered and how they change as the time passes while the others are cave houses transformed into hotel rooms.

santorini cave houses after After
santorini cave houses before Before

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