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The “House of Rodakis” in Mesagros on Aegina Island.
A perishing monument
Nectarios Koukoulis, headmaster of the 1st primary school of Aegina

The psyche of natural environment affects man, but man’s psyche affects the environment too
K. Vrieslander

Alexandros Rodakis, a simple farmer, lived in the 19th century in Messagros on Aegina Island. His soul was marked by the traditional spiritual heritage coupled with an unassuming folk sensitivity. A special man, with remarkable perception, who projected his sensitive inner world at everyday life activities; when labouring at ploughing, sweating at cropping, enjoying the local feasts and setting up his house, which he built around 1880. The house, a masterpiece of folk architecture and wisdom, was built on the eastern side of a hill with a panoramic view at the Village and the Old City, using materials from the natural surroundings.

The incomparable plasticity of the space’s design and shaping makes visitors feel immediately comfortably and cosily. The diagonal heads in the corners of the rooftop of the terrace and the four statuettes on the façade – a pig, a clock, a snake and a pigeon – symbolize Fortune, Time, Evil and Peace. Every wall, every corner has its own importance. The house’s small yard, as if magical you would think, with stone benches and stairs leading to the upper room welcomes you cheerily. The semi-circular limestone frames of all the openings of the house protrude from the walls’ surface, exhibiting a unique element of folk architecture, and are ornamented with embossed branches. Even the exterior “oven house” and the winepress bear engraved ornaments (capitals) at the porous limestone, a sheer evidence of the intensity of Rodakis’ ornamental temper. The wall of the winepress reads the following, engraved on the fresh coat:

Better if Man
was a cold stone than
now that he possesses mediation,
he has Norms and discretion.
I learnt to live (?)
OH 1891 AH

The first to be interested in Rodakis’ House was the German archaeologist Furtwengler; he studied and sent pictures of it to Munich. In Greece, it was made popular from the Greek Dimitris Pikionis. The house is private property and today is relinquished to time’s ruthless ravage. The limy yards and the vineyard have given their place to weeds. The rooftops are dilapidated, the auxiliary constructions already wrecked. Nevertheless, the house maintains its charm and can be still saved. There have been discussions between the Local Authorities and the owners, so that the house is bought, maintained and rehabilitated; yet, no agreement was reached. The State is totally indifferent. The people are worried and infuriated. The Ministry of Culture, well familiar with the Monument’s worth, proclaimed the house as “preservable”, thus, possibly bringing on… its end. The battle against Time was and will always be unequal. Something must be done now.

Messagros, Aegina, 30/1/2007

Bibliography

  • K. Vrieslander, To spiti tou Rodaki stin Aegina [The Rodakis’ House on Aegina], 1st edition: Athens 1934, re-published: Aegina 1993 [Greek publication]
  • D. V. Vassiliadis, “I laiki architektoniki tis Aeginas” [The folk architecture of Aegina], offprint, Laografia [Folklore], vol. 16, issue ΙΙ, Athens 1957 [Greek publication]
  • G. P. Koulikourdi, S. N. Alexiou, Aegina, published by themselves, Aegina, the 1950s [Greek publication]
  • Kiryx tis Aeginis [Herald of Aegina], monthly organ of Eginians everywhere, publisher Ι. V. Lykouris, Aegina 1947-50 [Greek publication]
  • G. P. Koulikourdi, Aegina, published by herself, Aegina 1991 [Greek publication]
  • N. G. Koukoulis, I Panagia I Politissa sto Mesagro Aeginas [The Constantinople Virgin Mary at Messagros on Aegina], published by himself, Aegina 2006 [Greek publication]

    nkoukoul@sch.gr
25/02/2007
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