I am surrounded by stone. Stone houses, stone ovens, stones piled into fences to line the edge of olive groves. The people of this region chose to build their stone homes round, with cone shaped roofs, looking something like beehives. The houses have tiny windows and are naturally warm in winter and cool in summer. For a larger dwelling, they add a number of them together. When I walk into one, my eyes need to adjust from the bright sun of this region to the darkness of the house. The roof above me is made out of hundreds of flat stones piled at a perfect angle to be self-supporting. The people here are stone engineers!
When I walk down these streets, I realize that this is the only type of architecture in the town. All of the shops and restaurants manage to fit into clusters of these little round whitewashed houses. There are various icons painted on the roofs that make me wonder what significance they have. They look like a combination of religious, astrological, and artistic symbols. I ask a local what they mean and find that the symbols are to ward off evil and protect the inhabitants. Others say they show what the people inside believe in. When I ask about the history, I find lots of different theories as well; some dating back 5,000 years, but no one really knows why this isolated area has such radically different architecture than everywhere else in this country. The most popular theory involves tax evasion. These houses could come down in mere minutes and be but a pile of stones when the tax collectors came through the area in the middle ages.
This town is the main tourist attraction in this area. There are cities close by that are much larger and built up with apartment buildings, but the countryside surrounding this town is built in the same architectural style, and the small farms have low stone fences all around them.
This town is in a lesser visited southern region in an often frequented tourist country known for its art, history, and food.
Do you know where I am?
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