The story behind the cave houses of Oia

The story behind the cave houses of Oia

Oia in Santorini has been for the past few decades one of the most renowned and sought after travel destinations in the world. Its picturesque beauty, its famous sunset, the harmonious bond between the sea, the cliffs, the volcanic rocks and the houses themselves create a sight to behold that hasn’t failed to enchant visitors from around the globe. Esperas Hotel in Oia has the privilege to be a part of this majestic landscape, but how did the latter come about? How did the locals make the best of nature’s gifts and hurdles to create something that is, admittedly, unique?

You see, Oia wasn’t always the travelers’ haven that it is now. It used to be a fishing village, as well as home to shipowners and their crews. In other words, it was still a haven, but mostly for people that lived off the sea with everything that entails. Poverty and necessity made the crews unable to build their houses on top of the hill, so they had to go lower, closer to the sea. However, only the cliffs are there and the people started digging into the rock, creating houses instead of building them, by removing rock and going as far into it as possible. That was the birth of the cave houses of Oia that now give the village its distinct look and feel.

At first glance, the cave houses of Oia were built wherever there was enough space – and if there wasn’t, the sailors would make space by digging farther into the rock – but a careful look will reveal that the chaos is perfectly organized, that, through a sort of natural evolution, each house is binding into the next, the boundaries clearly delineated, yet irregular, on multiple levels.

Features that are now considered essential for houses come naturally to the cave houses of Oia. Even though it’s only the face of the long house that receives light, windows and skylights pour the Aegean sun into every corner of the house. The rock is great for insulation, so the houses are warm in the winter and cool in the summer.

From the outside, Oia is beautiful and quaint. From the inside, it is cozy and inviting. A cave house is as much an experience as it is a residence. Esperas Hotel in Oia belongs in that neighborhood, so that you can admire it, live it.