Oia is the second most important town on Santorini and, for many, its most beautiful spot. Oia is a traditional settlement of Santorini. It is also called Apano Meria or Anomeria and the inhabitants of Apanomerites. It is located at the northern end of the island. According to the 2001 census, the settlement has 763 inhabitants.
In Oia, two types of traditional houses stand out: the caves and the captain’s houses.
The natural slope, the roughness of the ground, and the need to save material led to vaulted caves’ creation (the so-called caves). The cave houses are cave dwellings dug into the volcanic rocks, either whole or with additional built sections, and ship crews’ residences. They have a façade at ground level and take advantage of the natural scales of the ground.
A unique feature is a horizontal property. The yard of one place is a room of another, or under a free/common area, there is a cave house.
Exterior view of a cave house
A typical cave house has a narrow front and great depth. Its front wall has full openings to permit the natural light and fresh air to get inside the house. There is a cistern for collecting rainwater and canals that lead rainwater to the cistern in each building.
In contrast to the caves that were the crews ‘residences, the captain’s houses, or otherwise, the shipowners were the owners’ residences. These buildings have strict geometric austerity in their appearance, influenced mainly by Venetian and neoclassical architecture.