World famous destinations such as Mykonos and Santorini are easy to identify in photos thanks in part to their distinct architecture. Influencers love taking pictures in front of the islands’ whitewashed homes and blue accents and doors. But why are Greek island houses blue and white?
Many people recognize blue and white as the iconic colors of Greece. They’re the colors of the flag. They are also the colors of the bright sea and sky synonymous with the beautiful Mediterranean.
However, on the Cycladic islands, the distinctive blue and white colors of homes are not based on the colors’ symbolism within Greece. In fact, there were several reasons behind this iconic characteristic of Greek island architecture. These were mostly practical reasons.
Cooling down island homes in the summer
Many homes on islands like Mykonos, Paros, and Naxos were originally built out of stone. This was a practical decision since wood was not easily found on rocky Aegean islands.
However, the rocky terrain is of a darker color. This presented a problem during the sunny Greek summers. The sunlight beating down on the homes would be absorbed by the dark stones, making the interior unbearably hot.
Hence, residents began painting the stones white in an effort to cool down their indoor spaces. The process worked, resulting in cooler, more comfortable island homes.
What about the blue color of Greek island houses?
Though blue is the most common accent color for doors and shutters in the Cycladic islands, it’s not the only one. In fact, if you walk around many islands, you will notice accents of red, green, and brown, in addition to blue.
However, the vibrant blue color still dominates the Cycladic landscape. Why is that?
Well, it comes down to cost. Fishermen and other seafaring men painted their windows and shutters with whatever was left over after painting their boat. Because of its components, blue was usually the cheapest paint color available.
The blue used for Greek island homes was made from a mixture of limestone and a cleaning product called “loulaki,” which was a kind of blue talcum powder most islanders had readily available at home. Therefore, blue paint was a very easy color for them to make.