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GREEK NEWS

The Ancient Greek “Dragon Houses” Still Standing Today

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Dragon houses, or “drakospita.” Credit: Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain

There is a mysterious group of ancient Greek homes in Greece called “drakospita,” or dragon houses, even though they have nothing to do with dragons.

Their architecture is still admired today for its simplicity and endurance.

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The drakospita are a group of around 25 ancient homes in Evia, central Greece. It is unknown when exactly they were built, but records of these structures, which are now abandoned, go back centuries.

Due to the massive rock slabs that make up the structure of the dragon homes, some of which weigh thousands of pounds, many theories about the construction and use of these mysterious homes have cropped up throughout the years.

Some argue that the impressive structures served as ancient sanctuaries of the gods, particularly Hera or Zeus, while others argue that they served as military guard posts or defense outposts.

Initially it was thought that they were devotional buildings, but archaeologists are not certain if that is the case. They are estimated to belong to the early Hellenistic times (5th-4th century BC).

Regardless of the purpose they served, or when they were constructed, the Greek dragon homes, or drakospita, were built to last.

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A wall of a Greek dragon house. Credit: Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain

The mysterious construction of the Greek drakospita

The dragon houses are built of massive square and oblong stones made of limestone, which have been placed on top of each other without any binding materials, like mud or cement, standing in place only by their weight.

Any gaps in the walls are filled with smaller stones, while the roof was elaborately made of huge, thicker stones in a pyramid shape. A long hole in the middle of the facade is left for the light, or any smoke from fire inside, to go through.

Drakospita still stand near Styra, Karystos, and the peaks of Mount Ochi. Locals believe they were farmhouses, shelters or military structures.

According to ancient local tradition, the word “dragon” did not only refer to the mythical beast, but any person with superhuman power. This has led many to believe that the origin of the homes stems back to the ancient Greek gods.

Most of the Greek dragon homes are preserved in excellent condition despite the fact that no binding materials were used in their construction. Near the drakospita, archaeologists have found animal bones, vase fragments and sacrificial remains.

Some of the best preserved ones are located in Styra, in the so-called Palli-Lakka complex. It consists of three farmhouses dating back to the Classical to Hellenistic eras. They are made of famous Karystian stone.

The town of Karystos, Evia, where the dragon houses are located

Karystos is a must-visit place on Evia island. A small coastal town on the southern shore of the island, it is where ferries from Athens’ coastal suburb of Rafina come and go all day long.

It is home to the 13th-century castle of Bourtzi within Karystos town, right on the seashore. Then there is also the 11th century Castello Rosso, which sits imposingly against the Ochi mountain range nearby.

At night, traditional tavernas, restaurants and waterfront bars and cafes brim with well-dressed throngs of people. On the weekends, mainlanders flock to Karystos and mingle with the locals, giving an authentic picture of Greeks enjoying the summertime.

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