The history of the medieval Alosanthos residence

In the 13th century AD Folegandros was under venetian rule and was part of the Ducat of the Aegean. It was then when the Folegandros Kastro was built. It was a defence-purpose fortified settlement aiming to protect inhabitants from violent pirate raids. The house is owned by our family for more than 150 years.

In 2004 we decided to repair the section of the building that had remained almost intact for over 10 centuries and to restore the ruined section. Our guide to this endeavour had been our love and respect for the island, its history and its tangible and intangible heritage. Our aspiration was to “pair” the traditional architectural elements with the needs of a small modern family. Our very own family!

The exteriors of the Kastro

From its northern side the Kastro is unapproachable. With unplastered walls the houses were almost indiscernible from the sea, supplementing the natural fortification afforded by the sheer drop.

The history of Folegandros Kastro

The Kastro was built in the years following the Fourth Crusade (1204), the capture of Constantinople by the crusaders and the break-up of the Byzantine Empire. Meeting the same fate as most islands of the Cyclades, Folegandros came under the then all-powerful rule of the Most Serene Republic of Venice. Marco Sanoudo, who in 1205 became the ruler of the Duchy of the Aegean, decided to build fortresses on the islands under his rule.

The Kastro is not a fortress as such, but rather a medieval defensive configuration of houses. This enclosed area used to be the main settlement of Folegandros, while the rest of Hora developed later, during the periods of peace. Walking through the Kastro today is like travelling back in time. But this is only natural, for the settlement has been inhabited without interruption since its establishment centuries ago.

Strolling the alleys of the Kastro

The Kastro is primarily a residential area. It has been declared a traditional settlement protected by the Greek Ministry of Culture.

Strolling the alleys of the Kastro

The limited interior space of the houses obliged the inhabitants to extend their private living space outside to the stoop and steps. The wide steps also served as a sitting area and the tiny yards with low stone benches allowed the inhabitants to enjoy fleeting moments of sunshine in the depth of winter.

Strolling the alleys of the Kastro

Before the Kastro adapted to peace life, the outside walls of the houses had numerous concealed embrasures (for shooting through) and the rear walls usually afforded some means of escape.