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Caldera Contours: Aenaon Villas Santorini, Cyclades Islands, Greece

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Turning a barren, volcanic rocky outcrop into one of Santorini’s best architectural contributions was no easy feat of engineering, and the difficulties of this pinnacle location shaped the design narrative and concept of Aenaon Villas –a member of THE AFICIONADOS.

Traditional island vernacular is perched in white on the very edge of the famous caldera. Inspired by its remote, blackened-rock perch and solo locale set between Imerovigli and Oia, it’s one of the few spots where you can view both the east-side beaches as well as the west aspects of Santorini including front row vistas of the caldera.

Aenaon, which means in Greek ‘flowing continuously-unstoppably-eternally, like a circular flow, is the brainchild of engineer- owner Giorgos and his creative wife, Alexandra. Together with architect Giorgos Zacharopoulos, the villas hug the charred mountain contours, giving each ‘house’ a distinctive form. Large boulders, olive trees and traditional stone walling dart across the whitewashed terraces, ensuring a thoughtful reminder of the island’s volcanic legacy.

Built in traditional Cycladic architecture and characterised by their roomy spaciousness as well as a respect for pared-back design, there is a signature of identity, locality and simplicity of luxury. Terraces have infinity pools carved into the lava rock, providing a place to gaze at the endless blue sea. Interiors are a homage to that classic Santorini combo of white-on-white from wall to floor, deeply cushioned sofas and wooden furnishings.

Creativity and design flows naturally within the Alexiou family, and daughters Elly (architect) and Maria-Christina (mechanical engineer and lighting designer) recently created Charissa Villa, a 65m² sanctuary that has been built in the same traditional island cave house style, locally called yposkafa which are dug entirely into the volcanic rock. Villa Charissa makes no secret of its curvaceous intent and follows the bedrock in true form - the luxury suite cascades in tiers, cocooned in a rigorous aesthetic of pure white, smooth polished cement and a tinge of volcanic black for added drama.

Transforming this charred rocky outcrop was no easy task, luckily Giorgos is also an engineer, having worked in Greece on several museums and archaeological sites, was able to spot the beauty beyond the logistical challenges – perhaps this explains why he has the best spot along the caldera. In their own words: “Doing something crazy was not always easy and our drive to create something different was not always logical, but it was the best thing we ever did. We found our special spot”.

Location next to style is key when visiting the sun-kissed Cycladic Island of Santorini, as it’s all about that view of the caldera.


Founded by Iain Ainsworth, THE AFICIONADOS is a travel resource for those seeking fabulous recommendations and accommodation that effortlessly fuses luxury, design and authenticity. It comprises over 90 hotels, designer homes for private hire and guesthouses, from all across Europe and a fabulous outpost in New York, the United States, together with a selection of over 100 creatives who round out the offer of this culture and lifestyle emporium for travel and good living. The Aficionados also publishes five printed magazines: Blueprint Beauts, Farmhouse Fabulous, Casa Gorgeous, Neu Heritage, and Alchemists of Italy.

By Liliana Alvarez

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