She added that traditionally you would always build from rock on the land side, so the structure couldn’t be seen from the sea. “And because suitable rock is naturally widely scattered, communities have become [too]which meant there was less chance of everyone being discovered if the pirates invaded,” she said.
We entered their pirate-proof house, now used to store wine. The thick walls, Nikos explained, would have ensured that it remained cool in hot summers and retained heat in winter.
Locals have gone to extra lengths to make their settlements invisible to outsiders. “The structure would be low, single-story, and below the maximum height of the rock,” Eftychia said. In addition, the houses were built without chimneys to avoid columns of smoke. Instead, a stone on either side of the mortarless walls would be removed while the fire pit was in use, allowing the smoke to subtly dissipate. People would only interact at night. According to Mazari, in the days of the pirates, they rarely even kept dogs for fear that the sound would alert invaders.
Anti-pirate houses may have been erected as emergency retreats, but they had a lasting effect on Ikarian society, long after warships sent by the United States, Britain, France and Russia finally ended the race in the Aegean in the 1820s. The tendency of villages to remain mountain-based and scattered, and that of islanders to stay awake late at night, are both attributed to the pirate era. Even places of worship built in an anti-pirate style survive, such as the Theoskepasti Chapel which weaves its way dramatically into a rocky overhang near Evdilos.