Nikia is located in the southeastern part of Nisyros, at a distance of 14 km from Mandraki. It is the most mountainous village on the island, built on the same mountain range as Emporeios, in a place that is naturally fortified and hidden from the shores. It is built at an altitude of about 390 m. on the steep edge of the crater, overlooking the impressive caldera of the volcano to the northwest and Telos to the southeast.
In 1420, the Florentine traveler Cristoforo Buondelmonti mentions Nikia as one of the five fortified settlements of Nisyros, nowadays, however, just a few remains from the medieval castle that once surrounded the settlement are preserved. Such as in the case of Emporeios, the residential complex continued to have a dense, often uninterrupted structure. Its plan reminds us of a fortress that strengthens the defensive character of the place to protect buildings and residents.
The village develops around the famous central square which is called “Porta” (gate) and the cathedral church of “Τhe Presentation of the Virgin”, which is a single-nave cross-vaulted basilica of the Dodecanesian Style, renovated in 1833, where the main street which runs through the entire settlement, leads from the entrance of the village. Other radially intersecting side streets lead the various neighbourhoods. The main street to the village starts from the parking lot at the beginning of Nikia, the so-called “Station”, where the only Volcanological Museum (2008) in Greece welcomes the visitor. It is housed in the newly restored Theologeio primary school, connecting the traditional appearance of Nikia with the present, while it contributes to the development of the settlement by highlighting the geological uniqueness of Nisyros.
The picturesque settlement of about sixty one inhabitants stands out from the coastal villages but also from Emporeios for its distinctive, inclined roofs covered with tiles. It has fewer ruined buildings than Emporeios and, although it was also affected by the immigration wave of the 20th century, it makes an impression with its whitewashed houses, colorful doors, and pebbled courtyards. The typically two-story houses share their long sides as they were built in contact with each other, a fact that provides antiseismic structural stability. The walls, made of the abundant in the surroundings volcanic material, a#re always freshly whitewashed, a custom that existed since the beginning of the 20th century. All the houses are all equipped with underground tanks, an essential element of the Nisyrian residence, due to the severe shortage of water that characterizes the island. The facades of the houses face the whitewashed concrete alleyways on the uneven terrain, while the whole settlement, which is based on the island architecture, is harmoniously integrated into the mountainous natural landscape. The narrow roads offer shade and protection from the wind, while the buildings face east, following the general rule of island settlements, which also occured in Nisyros. This ensures protection from the strong west wind and increased exposure to the morning sun. As a result, the thick stone walls absorb the heat during the day and release it inside the house during the cold winter nights.
The simple but unique and elegant traditional architecture results from the willingness of the residents to meet their needs through simple and functional solutions. The same applies to the rest of the villages in Nisyros. This was essentially their concern during the founding of Nikia. As a result, the human factor is used as the guiding principle for the architectural conception. This anthropocentric character is also proven by the famous square “Porta”(Gate) which is located in the middle of the village as a reference center for the inhabitants. The square is enclosed to provide protection from the wind and has a distinctive elliptical shape. It owes its name to the Turkish policemen who, due to the administrative buildings that surrounded it, associated it which another Gate, the “High Gate”, the former administrative center of the Ottoman Empire in Constantinople. It is also believed that it owes its name to the gate that used to close the entrance to the square in the past. The building of the Old School (1856), which was in use during the German occupation as a guest house and pharmacy, the “Kazellaria” (town hall), as well as a neoclassical café, are located here, next to the church. Therefore, the small but functional space of the square serves the local authorities and the people who use it as a passage and a place to meet, while it is transformed into a courtyard for the students of the school and a place for festive events in the case of religious holidays and rituals. In 1923 the square was embellished with the creation of a stone elliptical bench and a floor of black and white pebble rocks, work of craftsman Paschalis Paschalakis from Nikia. Nowadays, the square creates a unique, representative Aegean landscape and for this reason, it has been characterized as the most beautiful square in the Aegean.
Nikia, Nisyros, postal code 85303
Means of access:
By car, afterwards on foot