Mykonos Birdhouses: The Greek Island Dovecote

On Mykonos you may notice some fancy yet seemingly abandoned houses — only frequented by the birds! The Mykonos birdhouses that dot the landscape remain one of the most traditional aspects of the island.

Mykonos Birdhouses: Dovecote

While exploring the area around the villa or even as you travel throughout the island, you may see some whitewashed houses sitting off on an abandoned patch of field. The house may be painted bright white or it may be a bit worn down. The house would have nice architectural details but may seem a bit strange, too quiet… like no one is living inside.  You’d be right. These are houses – for the birds!

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The birdhouses are symmetrically designed, beautifully adorned with various designs such as stone patterns, wood and marble.  They are one prime example of Aegean island architecture, a characteristic of Cycladic island living.

Greek Island Birdhouses: Known as the Dovecote

These whitewashed birdhouses, also known as dovecotes, are a tradition on the Cycladic island chain. Some islands have more than others. Tinos, for example, has an impressive number still standing.

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Just like Tinos and other Cyclades, Mykonos was a place of farms.  Nearly all farmhouses here had one. That’s because a systematic breeding of pigeons came into fashion when the Venetians ruled the islands.  Pigeons were bred for their meat. Their droppings were collected as an excellent fertilizer. The top part of the dovecote, built with decorative windows and a balcony like area, was perfect for pigeons to “socialize.”

The rest of the structure was also quite useful for rural living. The bottom floor of the large birdhouse was utilized as a hay loft, warehouse or storage center. Sometimes there would be a stable.

Mykonos Birdhouses Today

In general, as less people turned to agriculture as a way of life, these fancy birdhouses weren’t kept up, and today most of them remain abandoned and worn down. Perhaps a few are still in use. Locals say there are more than 300 Mykonos birdhouses with varying levels of wear and tear.

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Birdhouse at Villa Hurmuses

You can check out some of the Mykonos birdhouses up close if you pass them on your walk outside of Mykonos Town or near the side of road in other areas of the island.

Some Mykonos birdhouses have been turned into actual houses for people.   There are many villas, hotels and businesses that have incorporated the traditional Mykonos birdhouse style or the actual birdhouse itself into the refurbishment of the property.  The pool guest house at Villa Hurmuses is an example of this.

Unique Mykonos Birdhouses

Like on other Cycladic islands, the builders of these Mykonos birdhouses created a specific type of architectural monument that is unique in the world — an eye-catching kind of structure that is spread throughout the island’s rugged landscape.

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Have you ever noticed the Mykonos birdhouses?

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