The picturesque and beautiful settlement of Hydra city, authenticate to very important historical facts, is a model of traditional architecture and aesthetics. The city is amphitheatrically erected in the grey background formed by huge cliffs. The horseshoe-shaped harbor is one of the most picturesque in the whole of Greece and provides the gateway to the island's beautiful port city with its imposing stone mansions adorning the rocky hillsides behind the waterfront.
The waterfront of Hydra City is covered with mansions, most of them erected during the eighteenth century. These were designed by Venetian and Genoese architects, are still the great monuments of the city. A city map is available locally, if you are interested in seeking them out - some are labeled at the entrance with Oik a (home) and the family name. On the western waterfront, and the hill behind, are the Voulgaris mansions, with its interesting interior, and the Tombazis mansion, used as a holiday hostel for arts students. Set among pines above the restored windmill on the western point, the Koundouriotis mansion was the home of George Koundouriotis, a wealthy shipowner who fought in the War of Independence and whose great grandson, Pavlos Koundouriotis, was president of republican Greece in the 1920s. It is being refurbished as a museum with EU funding. On the eastern waterfront are the Kriezis mansion, the Spiliopoulos mansion and the Tsamados mansion - now the national merchant navy college which you can sometimes visit between lectures.
Hydra is also allegedly hallowed by no fewer than 365 churches - a total claimed by many a Greek island, but here with some justice. For these and many another reasons, the entire island has been declared a national monument and comes under the protection of both the Greek government and the EU. Strict controls on the construction of new properties and the renovation of old ones have enabled Hydra City to retain much of the old-world elegance and splendor of its glory days as a major maritime power.