Film info

Creator / Collector

Astypalea or Chora, is the capital and is located in the western part of the island. 180 years ago there was only the castle, as the fear of pirates did not allow the inhabitants to expand their territory outside the walls. Only after 1830 they started to build the two sides of the road that was connecting the old port with the fortified hill and by 1947 seven neighborhoods had been formed. The architecture of the houses is Cycladic. In other words, the cubist type, white walls, up and two-storey layout.

As we start, our lens reveals us endless stairs on an uphill road that leads to Chora. We watch a man probably comfortable with climbing up the stairs. A necessary passage to enter the residential area is the road with the beautiful 8 windmills, one of the tourist attractions of the island. The hill is revealed in a panoramic view, all in white from the houses that surround it like a ring.

At the top of the hill is the Castle. The white color of the houses and small churches blinds you. Going up the narrow uphill streets, you can discover some small squares, rarely a tree or a tiny store with a wooden door, a window and a sign "GOOD HEART market”.

We walk through the narrow alleys where a man can hardly pass, we see beautiful houses with arches, stone or wooden stairs and blooming bougainvilleas. We also see wooden balconies in some of them. A beautiful girl on a balcony, looks at the lens, probably annoyed. And we reach the outskirts of the castle where under the square tower, the Serai, is the famous church “Panagia Portaitissa” with an ornate bell tower and a church museum.

We have views from houses and many small churches at the root of the castle, steep steps that are climbed by two women and some kitten, beautiful courtyards and some more kittens that are looking at the lens calmly, lintels and coats of arms over well-preserved buildings or buildings in ruins.


Film Information

Bonar, Andrew Graham

HD (1440x1080)



Duration (seconds)

Super 8mm

Creator's description

First we arrive at the ridge with the windmills –all of course derelict now. From here we get a clear impression of how the houses nestle up against the castle in concentric rings.

The streets are mostly narrow –just wide enough to accommodate a laden donkey- and they are seldom flat. Here and there you can find a little open space, a little courtyard, with the odd tree and flower pot. Everything is on a small scale. This grocer’s shop must surely be one of the smallest on earth!

More narrow lanes, and steep steps up to wooden balconies. This type of balcony, called the “poundi” is very characteristic of Astypalaian architecture. The enclosed part of it is used either for cooking, so that the rest of the house stays clean, or more often as a lavatory.

This area surrounding the castro was built up mainly during the period 1830-1870. The houses are typically oblong in shape, with a single room downstairs and a single room above, reached by an outside staircase. At first, to make them stronger in defence, the houses were built end-on to the street, but later they were built with the long side on the street, which made it possible to have more windows and a wider front door. Just inside the front door is the kitchen area. Upstairs is the reception area of the house, at the back of which is the sleeping area. The traditional bed is on a platform 1 ½ to 2 metres high, underneath which is a small store-room.

This church is the Portaitissa Church, built in 1764 just outside the walls of the castro.

Up, up and up again. Wherever you go here there are steps to climb, either up or down.

Fanlights over doors and windows are a common feature, as are carved marble heraldic devices embedded in the wall … … Rosettes, too, are quite a common sight, as are cornices and decorative door jambs and lintels.

Decorative ironwork covers the glass panes in the front door, while a marble inscription sometimes tells us when a house was built.

A somewhat rarer architectural feature is the carved wooden porch outside the front door of a shop.
Bonar, Andrew Graham