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  • Writer's picturelenikaravia

Kambones 1615 is this year's recipient of the European Sustainable Heritage Awards

Strasbourg, February the 6th 2024



"European Historic Houses in partnership with Airbnb inaugurated last year the European Sustainable Heritage Award.  The Award Ceremony took place on February 6th at the European Parliament in Strasbourg. Hosted by the MEP Ibán García del Blanco (Spain, S&D), this event recognized outstanding efforts of private owners in restoring and maintaining private properties. 

The selection of the three best projects was conducted by the expert panel composed of Stefania Pignatelli, ADSI governor and EHH Executive Committee member, architect Anders Brüel, MEP Pernille Weiss and the Airbnb host Gersende Raudot Genet de Chatenay.  

MEP Pernille Weiss commented notably on her involvement in this panel’s competition: “It was important for us MEPs to witness such wonderful projects to better understand the importance of sustainability for cultural heritage and how impactful it is for reducing carbon emissions.” 

Thanks to this award, we had the chance to discover many wonderful and innovative projects for sustainable heritage. MEP Ibán García del Blanco highlighted: “The enhancement of heritage is a powerful tool to stop the exodus of young people and the ageing of the population to urban settings. Cultural heritage can only survive and expand through the people who acquire and disseminate the culture of their environment.” Wrote European Historic Houses  https://www.europeanhistorichouses.eu/awards/ 


"Sophia Emmanuel, from Greece, showed how the restoration of her property Kambones 1615  involved preserving its agricultural character, including an ancient olive mill and the use of renewable energy sources, enhancing the property’s sustainability without compromising its historical integrity. Sophie is also an Airbnb Host, meaning guests can experience the results of her project in person.".




Sophia Emmanuel's acceptance speech:


"In 1615 Michel Sanudo finished renovating Kambones after his marriage to Maria Calvo. He could not have imagined that 400 summers later Airbnb guests from the farthest corners of the earth would  be staying in his residence.  He may have known that in a  heatwave  with temperatures  of 43 degrees , these same guests would paint, draw, play the piano, read or write without feeling the heat.


His house was built to protect  its inhabitants  from the heat of the summer and the winds of winter. It continues to be fit for purpose.


When we inherited  the ancestral home twenty years ago it had fallen into a state of advanced decay and as you will see  its restoration  was something of an act of faith. Perhaps  that's  why  Michel Sanudo had built twin chapels, Orthodox and  Catholic, side by side,  to ensure divine protection  for all.


The valley is now a quieter place than in Sanudo’s time. The great lime kilns which burned day and night making lime last worked in the 1960’s.  The huge stone olive mill is silent , except when a classical guitar recital takes place. The grape press and threshing floors remain a testament to a time when the farm was self-sufficient.


Now birds of prey breed in the olive groves and rare plants grow in abundance with nature undisturbed.  It is a place for contemplation and deep relaxation.


But we believe that Sanudo’s house has important lessons to teach us about building wisely and running a household sustainably.


It is therefore with immense gratitude to European Historic Homes and Airbnb that we accept the European Sustainable Heritage Award. It is a recognition of our need to learn from and to share this wisdom.


Special thanks to the Cycladic Ephorate of Antiquities (https://www.culture.gov.gr/en/ministry/SitePages/viewyphresia.aspx?iID=1704) , the Ellniki Etaireia ( https://www.ellet.gr/en/), our architects Themis Bilis ) and Maria Magnisali  (https://www.magnisali-bilis.com/single-project) and Ecotourism Greece ( https://ecotourism-greece.com/).


But it is my husband Thanassis Karavias’ vision, energy and skills, and our four children’s support which brought us this far."




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