Barren and rocky, Hydra has gone through a number of up and down cycles.
The current glitter and glamour of Hydra originated in the 1950s when Greek painter Hadjikyriakos Ghikas pioneered an artist's colony there.
Gray and white mansions were built in the 18th Century by Venetian and Genoese architects.
Two of the stone-built mansions have been converted into public institutes and are available for public viewing. The town appears much as it did in the 1820s, due to careful architectural preservation.
The Great House of the Tsamados Family has been converted to the School of the Merchant Marine and is the oldest such institution in Greece.
The School of Fine Art is housed in the Mansion of Emmanuel Tombazis.
The Museum of Hydra holds portraits of Hydriot captains and heroes and well as paintings, model ships and weapons.
The 18th Century church Panagía tis Theotókou has a beautiful bell tower.
The church cells were a former convent and are now the town offices.
Uphill from the church you find Kaló Pigádi where two 18th Century mansions were the site of deep wells that still supply the town with fresh water.
Several monasteries occupy the island and are an hour or two away by donkey ride.
The Monastery of the Prophet Elias and the Convent of Aghia Efpraxia being the two most notable.
There are no cars or motorized vehicles allowed on the island. Donkeys and by foot are how you'll get about. If you want to stay on the island overnight, be sure you get reservations in advance.