Grand houses in Kranidi
Kranidi, the seat of the municipality of Ermionida, is located in the south-eastern corner of the Peloponnese, with a population of four thousand inhabitants, about 50 km from Nafplion. It is connected with Piraeus and the Argosaronic Islands via the harbours of Ermioni and Portoheli.
Kranidi is built in semi-circular tiers on the slopes of the Agia Anna and Bardounia hills. It was once a maritime power with a substantial fleet of commercial vessels in the later years of the Ottoman Occupation, during which time it enjoyed a system of semi-independence, while from 1823 to 1824 it was the seat of the Revolutionary Government and the Executive Body. Today’s Kranidi exudes a noticeable island atmosphere not unlike that of the Argosaronic islands and the traditional architectural style of the houses strikes a similar note of elegance.
More specifically, the earlier buildings of Kranidi (up to 1850) called ‘agrotika’ (farm houses) were initially one-storeyed, though later another floor was added. Though humble and built with cheap materials, they nonetheless possess great charm. These early neighbourhoods simply grew, with no town plan nor provision for streets or squares.
From 1850 to 1925 and especially 1840-1890, the peak days of the age of sail, when Kranidi was in the forefront, financial prosperity brought about a construction boom, of ‘Captains’ houses’, instead of farm houses. These dwellings of shipowners, are of hewn stone, built with quality materials, moulded frames around windows and doors, and roofs bordered with neoclassical ‘akrokerama’, antefixes, small terracotta sculptures of a head in a surround, and decorative balconies. Later, after 1925, the ’Commercial’ buildings went up, slightly lower and smaller than those of the Captains.They were equipped with spacious storage space and a shop front facing the street, typically with fanlights over the doors and windows.
Nowadays, Kato (Lower) Kranidi still preserves, almost intact, the local architecture. The attractive presence of these buildings, including the Town Hall and the Library, is complemented by the well house of the Pyrgos, the three restored windmills, the old oil presses with their enormous millstones and numerous chapels.