Oikia Karapanou came into our hands as a wonderful gift from Life. Thus we in turn decided to offer her... to Life. We decided to dedicate Oikia to the nurture of relationships – our relationship to ourselves, our relationship to others, our relationship to our environment and to all that lives.
The word "oikia", house in greek, is at the root of such words as "ecosystem", "ecology".
To learn how to live in harmony in our common house, planet Earth.
To learn how to live in harmony in our own intimate house, our self.
One cannot be without the other. Life is one.
We feel that our mission, Oikia's mission, is to honour this unity. To encourage reconnection. It is nurtured by our love for Life, our sorrow before the wounds we inflict on her.
Thanks to the workshops that we host and organize, and to our own hard work, we have managed to keep up with the demanding maintenance of the house and gardens. In that way this rare place, originally intended to be enjoyed only by a privileged few, is now accessible to all.
However, beyond our professional activity, we initiate and support on a voluntary basis many events and initiatives aiming towards the same goal, of reinforcing collective awareness and the respect for Life.
When it was founded in 1995, Oikia was the first seminar centre for personal – and interpersonal – growth to open in Greece. Our role is truly pioneering. From Oikia have stemmed various methods and ways of thought, in self-knowledge, education, therapy, and psychosomatic awareness that are now an inseparable part of the alternative sector in Greece.
And as this sector, sadly, is constantly corrupted and increasingly laid on the altar of consumerism, we are focusing our attention more and more on guaranteeing genuine quality and purity, as much in our programmes, as in our ethics.
How this 200 year old aristocratic mansion came to be a holistic center,
narrated by it’s founder Christina Chorafa.
First came the dream.
Then came the house.
At the time of the dream, I lived in-between sea and sky in a small wooden homemade hut, on my home island of Cephalonia. I was at the time writing a book. The beauty of nature around me was almost unbearable, and I was constantly in awe of the sacredness of existence. Thus I started dreaming about a place that would be dedicated to it.
At that time I had no idea that Oikia Karapanou would one day come into my hands.
A few years later I inherited! And from the hut I moved to the palace - as the older locals used to call Oikia. However there were some similarities: both the cabin and the palace were as if from a fairytale. And when it rained, they both leaked!
I can still remember the moment when I sat, for the first time, outside Oikia's kitchen. What immediately came into my mind was: "Here we are. The dream has found its place".
Some years later I met Olivier Clementz, a frenchman who was to become my life companion, and Oikia's most stable foundation. Since then there are two of us caring for the place, surrounded by a precious team of collaborator friends and a whole flock of birds, dogs and cats.
The History of Oikia
Georgios Voulgaris (1769-1812), ancestor of Oikia's founder, Christina, was the first of the family to put down roots in Aegina.
In 1785, Voulgaris, aged 16, was called up by the Turkish army. During one of the expeditions, at great personal danger, he saved the chief naval officer Captain Pasha from a murder attempt. In gratitude he was named the bas-reisi - commander of all the Christian troops in the Turkish fleet. His success against Maltese pirates, using a corvette ship and officers from the island of Hydra, brought him further recognition. From then on his homeland Hydra, as well as all the Hydriot sailors, benefited from special protection. He was later designated Bey, a title which was rarely given to Christians.
On one of his voyages from the island of Hydra to the port of Piraeus, bad weather forced him to weigh anchor in Aegina at the gulf of Perivola. The area enchanted him and he bought a great piece of land, part of which includes the Oikia estate. Voulgaris constructed the mill and a house (the one next to Oikia), where Prime Minister Ioannis Kapodistrias stayed when the town of Aegina succumbed to plague, as the air in Perivola was considered healthier.
Voulgari's son Dimitrios (1801-1877), became a member of the Council of Hydra at the age of 17 after his father's death. In 1822, at the age of 22, he was sent to Nafplion as leader of the delegation from Hydra, for the first National Congress. As a plenipotentiary in all national congresses he became involved in politics and was appointed prime minister five times. The treaty which reunited the remaining Ionian islands with mainland Greece was created under his presidency and he enthusiastically supported the Cretan revolution. He was intelligent and stable but authoritarian. He dressed in an eccentric manner, wearing a long cloak and a strange hat that gave him the nickname of "Tzoumbes". In around 1850, Dimitrios Voulgaris built Oikia. After Dimitrios' death, his son Lazaros inherited Oikia, which was later left to Lazaros's daughter Maria Voulgari. Maria married Alexander Karapanos, a diplomat and Minister of Economics. He was the son of banker, politician and archaeologist Constantine Karapanos (who unearthed the ancient site of Dodoni). From then on, the Oikia Voulgari has been known as the Oikia Karapanou. Maria Voulgari-Karapanou died at Oikia in 1967, leaving behind her the angels that she used to paint, in a house that remained empty until 1990, when her great-granddaughter Christina Chorafa arrived in Aegina.