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The House of Rodakis
A perishing monument in Mesagros on Aegina
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 in 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 of the Village of Mesagros and the Old village of Paleachora, using materials from the natural surroundings.
"The psyche of natural environment affects man, but man's psyche affects the environment too"
The incomparable plasticity of the space's design and shaping makes visitors feel immediately comfortable and cosy. 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 is quite magical, welcoming you cheerily with stone benches and stairs leading to the upper room. 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) in the porous limestone, a sheer evidence of the intensity of Rodakis' ornamental temper. The wall of the winepress are engraved with the following words:
Better if Man
was a cold stone
now that he possesses mediation,
he has Norms and discretion.
I learnt to live
OH 1891 AH
The first to show professional interest in Rodakis' House was the German archaeologist Furtwengler; who studied it and sent photographs to Munich. In Greece, it was made popular by Dimitris Pikionis. The house is on private property and has been relinquished to time's ruthless ravages. The limy yards and the vineyard have been taken over by weeds. The rooftops are dilapidated, the auxiliary constructions already ruined.. Nevertheless, the house maintains its charm and can still be saved. Discussions have taken place between the local authorities and the owners concerning purchase and preservation of the house, yet no agreement has been reached. The Greek state is totally indifferent. The people are worried and infuriated. The Ministry of Culture, well familiar with the worth of this monument, has declared the house as "preservable" restorable, thus, possibly bringing on… its end. The battle against Time was and will always be unequal. Something must be done now.
Mesagros, Aegina, 30/1/2007
Text by Nektarios Koukoulis
- 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]