The first Albanian families to settle on Hydra in the 1600s built their homes away from the main port, living on the higher slopes above the harbor in an area more easily defended against roving bands of pirates. The settlers called the area Kiaffa, literally meaning “top” in Albanian, the name it still goes by today.
Kiaffa is among the island’s most populated areas. Situated high above the harbor, it is the oldest residential neighborhood, with stunning views of Hydra Town, Kamini, the surrounding hillsides, the Saronic, and the Peloponnese. Arched bridges connect some of the older houses and once served as a means of moving between buildings without entering the streets in case of pirate attack. In fact, the houses themselves were constructed with high walls for defensive purposes. Wandering through the cobblestone streets and alleys, you’ll find some of Hydra’s oldest homes, numerous chapels and churches, and many picturesque ruins.
Churches include η Γέννηση του Χριστού (Birth of Christ), the oldest, which dates to around 1640, Άγιος Αντρέας (St. Andreas), Άγιος Ανδριανός (St. Adrianos), Άγιος Ιωάννης ο Θεολόγος (St. John the Theologian), Άγιος Ιωάννης ο Πρόδρομος (St. John the Baptist), Άγιος Παντελεήμονας (St. Panteleimon), Αγία Παρασκευή (St. Paraskevi), Αγία Τριάδα (Holy Trinity), and Άγιος Αρτέμιος (St. Artemios). Crowning Kiaffa is church of Αγίου Κωνσταντίνου του Υδραίου (St. Constantine of Hydra, patron saint of the island), which began construction in 1968.