Lagada – "the ark of Ikarian survival"
Dear friend of Ikaria,
In this article I will tell you some interesting facts about this mysterious place Lagada, and about the way the pirates influenced Ikarian architecture. Lagada is mentioned as "the ark of Ikarian survival". For more than 100 years, about 300 families were living there, in an autonomous environment with laws and customs that were giving the community the ability to have a peaceful life. They used to elect some wise old men as the "Dimogerontes", or ‘those who were taking care of the society’. The Dimogerontes took care of the differences and arguments that could exist between individuals and they took decisions for the common good. Their decisions were highly respected. Until today, the jail at Lagada is very well preserved: it’s the big rock that you see in the picture. In theory, Lagada could have been an ideal model of society. In reality, daily life in this village was far from ideal. The villagers lacked too many important basic things such as cereals and oil, and not to forget they had the constant danger of ‘getting caught’ by the pirates. Their basic and sometimes their only nutrition was goat meat, vegetables, the famous Ikarian honey and the Pramnios Oinos (the Ikarian Wine). The cereals were so little that their daily bread was a pie cut in equal sharing as many as the family members plus one (the Christ sharing). The last piece was for anyone who would pass by their house. Nobody would ever leave a house without ‘taking something’. The same was happening with the meat. Unfortunately, the overconsumption of meat was causing them health problems such as epidemics. In that period (16th century) Ikarians developed their architecture. The main function of the houses was to protect families from the pirates. Some characteristics of those houses:
small sized houses of one or two rooms
very long roof made of stone ; to get in you almost had to get down on your knees
a high stone wall in front of the house, reaching almost to the middle of the roof (that combination was making the house to look like one big stone)
the chimney was a hole in the back wall of the house (smoke inside the house was causing eye problems those times)
most of the time they were building those houses in rocky spots, and in some cases a rock could be one of the walls of the house