The Elysium Caved Villas in Agia Pelagia in Crete

Luxury villas nestled in the earth, each with private entrance and pool promise relaxing vacations in complete seclusion at one of the top destinations in Crete: Elysium Caved Villas in Agia Pelagia.

The song “Ode to Joy” by Beethoven is a tune most Europeans can hum instantly. The notes for it can be found as a standard in every instrumental school – after all, the ode has been the official European anthem since 1985.

But many also know the lyrics by heart, verses from the famous poem by Friedrich Schiller, especially the opening: “Joy, beautiful spark of divinity, Daughter of Elysium.” Joy is addressed allegorically and depicted as divine, referencing Elysium or Elysion from Greek mythology.

Winners of the A+Awards 2023

Den Gästen der Elysium Caved Villas bietet sich ein ungehinderter Blick auf das Meer – auch vom privten Infinity-Pool aus.

Those fortunate to reside in Elysium are truly blessed. It is the dwelling place, the land of the blessed, loved by the gods – in short, paradise.

Guests of the Elysium Caved Villas enjoy an unobstructed view of the sea – even from their private infinity pool.

Whether the name “Elysium Caved Villas” by Lefteris Tsikandilakis + Architects is a bit of a stretch is for each visitor to decide. Those already impressed include the jurors of the Architizer A+Awards 2023. The Elysium Caved Villas have won in the “Unbuilt Hospitality” category.

“Minimal Impact on the Natural Environment”

It’s a fact that the “Elysium Caved Villas,” these excavated cave villas, will offer guests every luxury imaginable. And it feels great to vacation embedded in the Earth.

Furthermore, “only minimal changes were made to the topography,” say the architects from Lefteris Tsikandilakis. This approach is currently popular among both the hospitality industry and tourists. Moreover, regional materials are used, which is almost a given for such projects nowadays.

Elysium Caved Villas auf Kreta, bei Agia Pelagia
Elysium Caved Villas nahe bei Heraklion

Elysium Caved Villas in Crete, near Agia Pelagia

The location is Agia Pelagia, close to the capital of the Greek island of Crete. This picturesque northern coast has long attracted visitors from all over the world – not least due to its proximity to the airport. Thus, Agia Pelagia is no longer a quaint, small, traditional fishing village.

Private Access, Private Pool

Innen wie außen dominieren bei den Elysium Caved Villas lokale, natürliche Materialien wie Stein und Sand
Innen wie außen dominieren bei den Elysium Caved Villas lokale, natürliche Materialien wie Stein und Sand

Near the narrow beach situated in a sheltered bay, one finds beach bars, fish restaurants, and souvenir shops. The five earth-covered Elysium Caved Villas with private swimming pools are perfect retreats for those who value a bit more privacy and seclusion.

Both inside and out, the Elysium Caved Villas prominently feature local, natural materials such as stone and sand.

A horizontal slit in the natural landform is oriented to give guests a beautiful view. The organic shape of the land was largely retained, resulting in a long, artificial cave, a space warmly embraced by the earth.

Access to the two side villas is via two paths running along the property boundaries. The other three villas can be reached via separate exterior staircases and elevators – ensuring privacy. All villas offer an unobstructed view of the sea.

Natural Ventilation and Lighting

Despite the continuous facade and the unified form of the ensemble, each house is shielded by vertical elements surrounding individual courtyards. Additionally, the several-meter-high “recess” at the back of each house allows for natural ventilation and lighting on both levels. It also provides a secluded corner in the house, ideal for moments of relaxation.

In die Erde hineingemeißelt, so wirken die Rückzugs-Höhlen, denen es nicht an Luxus mangelt
In die Erde hineingemeißelt, so wirken die Rückzugs-Höhlen, denen es nicht an Luxus mangelt

Summer and Winter Vacation Spot

The outdoor materials and furnishings harmonize with the texture of the natural ground. Simple lines, earthy colors, sand, stone, wood, and local vegetation… The scents that fill the air in the area let visitors experience the typical flair of Crete.

The interior design follows the same principle, creating a special ambiance even in winter, as stated by the Greek architectural firm Lefteris Tsikandilakis. The operators of the Elysium Caved Villas hope to welcome both summer and winter guests.

The villas extend over three levels: the bedrooms are located on the upper level. The middle and lower levels face the courtyards: the middle floor houses the dining area, living room, and kitchen, while the lower level is more private – with wellness amenities and seating by the infinity pool.

On the northeast side of the property, visitors can climb an observation tower. From there, you can let your gaze wander in all directions.

By the way, Lefteris Tsikandilakis + Architects are repeat offenders: in Arnados on the Greek island of Tinos, the architectural firm designed a luxury resort whose name also refers to the bliss of Elysium: the Elysium Collection Villas.

Text: Linda Benkö
Renderings: Tabarq / v2com