The village in the course of time

Categories: Informations, Kazaviti

Kazaviti, Thassos island Greece 1973

Kazaviti in the course of time.

The end of the traditional village structure

In 1973, the year the cover picture was taken, Kazaviti is almost completely original. The Kafenia Veginas and Liberis are still open and the village structures still exist in parts. At that time there is no paved road and no electricity. Many gardens in the village are still farmed, and there are donkeys, goats and sheep. Many, especially the elderly, return to their family homes in the summer. A few families still live in Kazaviti. Most have an apartment or a house in Prinos. Here they spend the winter months. At this time most families already already firmly moved to Prinos, the big cities or abroad. In 1978 the village of Kazaviti was put under protection as a “historical settlement”. This means that only new buildings in the historical style can be built. Due to the strategic proximity of Thassos to Turkey, foreigners are not allowed to purchase any land. This law existed until legal adjustments to EU legislation were made.

Kazaviti was always abandoned in the winter. The old houses are not designed for the partly very hard winters. The families moved to the coast to harvest the olive trees. In the spring the families then moved back to Kazaviti with the harvested olives. In the great ravine of Kazaviti the oil mills are located. The stream is carrying a lot of water at this time of the year. The irrigation system of the agricultural terraces had already been destroyed in the 1970s, the land was abandoned and small biotope formed. The entire agricultural land has never been treated with chemical fertilizers, insecticides and large machinery.

Many, mostly small, houses have already been abandoned in the 1950s and 1960s. In the 1970s they were already collapsed. Life in former times must have been very hard. In the small houses sometimes a whole family lived in a room. Below was the stable for the animals. In many of the old houses the whole family history was left behind. The door was closed and the old photos and letters remained with the rest of the household. At the end of the 1970s, the process of alienation from the more recent history in Kazaviti was completed. Many of the houses are inherited by a new generation. This has mostly broken with the old Greece and lives in the supposedly beautiful world of the new EU Greece.

The transitional years

In the 1980s the village Megalos Kazaviti is almost completely abandoned, the smaller Mikro Kazaviti not. Unlike most other villages on Thassos, the village does not evolve, but decays. Whoever can afford it has tiled the roof of the parental home. Many of the buildings have been preserved to this day by doing this. The water, next to man, is the greatest enemy of the old houses. There are very stupid stories about how to preserve old houses. Due to the construction of stone, clay and wood, the houses are extremely sensitive to water penetrating from the top.

Due to its topographic difficult location, some parts of the village are not accessible by car. The strong slope prevents the construction of new houses in many places, the conveniences of the new period are not applicable here. In the easily accessible parts many new houses were build, corresponding to the style of that period. The protection status is largely ignored.

Over a long period, Kazaviti is a kind of right-free space on Thassos. Since almost no one lives here, some outsiders find shelter. There are almost no controls, as it is simply no one is interested in what happens here. Things are regulated among each other. Plenty of space and little control. After the political changes in Albania, in the early 1990s some illegal immigrants found shelter in the abandoned houses. They worked on the construction and the olive harvest. There were always brutal evacuation campaigns, which played into the hands of the employers, for example, after olive harvesting. Some of these early immigrants still live legally in Prinos. Without the Albanians, many parts of the economy on Thassos would no longer be operational.

The new time

In the 2000s the structure of the village slowly changes to a holiday resort and popular excursion destination. The entire water supply of the village is rebuilt. Some young families are returning to the old houses. Through the technical change one can reconstruct the buildings for the winter time. However, a village structure does not recede. Too few houses are permanently inhabited. More and more houses are used as pure holiday houses for the summer. This changes the appearance of the place. In order to make the formerly cultivated gardens easy to clean, stone plates are laid in concrete in large areas. Other parts of the village are slowly swallowed by the very lush vegetation. The fruits of the many local fruit tree varieties fall to the ground. A paradise for rodents and various insects. In the empty houses many bats and cats live.

After the Platia is paved, the two former Kafenia, now converted to restaurants, slowly expand over the whole village square. Some new houses are being built and old houses are being modernized. In doing so, many of the old houses are plastered  (smoothly ironed) with concrete. Many hundreds of thousands of Euros are pumped from the EU Structural Leader+ programme to the village. The main route, now named the “historical circuit”, is newly paved. Some old houses are demolished or completely altered. EU funds distroyed a lot. Profit is not always the beneficiaries of grants.

Journey to the future

Kazaviti has so far the largest density of original, traditional houses on Thassos. Many of them are very vulnerable. Through the forest fire on September 10, 2016, a whole part of the village, called Simenitika, was destroyed with original houses and a Metochi of the monastery of Esfigmenou on Mount Athos. Three other old buildings burned at the bottom of the village. The development with regard to the still existing old structure and the handling of it is very worrying. The potential surplus value for the village is not perceived. All private landlords of holiday homes for rent in Kazaviti advertise with the word “traditional”. In most cases, these are new buildings. The real value of real estate by the situation in a traditional village decreases from year to year. Destruction is progressing rapidly. The current development on Thassos towards a cheap mass tourism with concrete castles is no less worrying. Very much is currently being destroyed by a few short-term people. Sustainable tourism with an opportunity for future generations would be possible. Unfortunately, in the present crisis the fast money is in the foreground. The question is, however, where the money is going. Certainly the locals participate only to a very small extend

Some old houses have been renovated and modernized in recent years. The stone roof increasingly displaces the tiled roof. The main problem is the enormous costs involved in renovating old houses. If a miracle does not happen, many old buildings will collapse. The low number of permanent residents is an advantage for those who are looking for peace. Apart from the main season in the summer, Kazaviti is a paradise for nature lovers, hikers and refugees of the permanent hype in modern life.

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