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Before I came to Greece I had no idea there were more than 2,000 islands (!) and that they were such a destination hotspot. Honestly. For many Americans, Greece is too far to go on holiday, especially considering the relatively close distance (and flight deals) to Mexico or Hawaii.
With that in mind, and limited on time, I started my trip out on the largest island of Crete followed by the popular Cycladic islands of Santorini and Mykonos. These were islands I had heard about, and for good reason, many of the images that come to mind when you think of Greek islands, and even Greece in general, are the white-washed and blue-roofed buildings found in the Cyclades island chain.
Never before have I traveled through an area where the same few colors were continually present, particularly the bright white and blue of the Greek flag and local buildings. There are different theories trying to explain the significance of the blue and white national flag, but one of the prevailing reasons argues that the colors represent the vivid blue of the sky and Aegean Sea combined with the white of the sea’s waves.
Nowhere is this more apparent than in the Cycladic islands.
Traditionally, the buildings in the Cyclades were whitewashed due to economic and environmental reasons – whitewash was (and is) a cheap form of paint made from lime and chalk that protected the buildings, and even tree trunks, from insects while reflecting the sun’s rays to keep buildings cooler. Over time, laws were put into place for newer buildings to also continue the whitewashing practice along with accents of blue, a color thought to keep away evil. (The same shades of white and blue can be seen in the common evil eye emblem.)
The combination of distinct architecture and colors constantly reminds you that you’re in the Cyclades – there’s nowhere else quite like it.
Once you hit the mainline or other islands the color continuity disappears further reminding you that the islands are a unique place.
Have you visited any of the Greek islands? What different aspects caught your eye? You can check out more photos of Greece through my Instagram gallery.