Almost all the major centers are on the sea, both on the mainland and on the larger islands. In the smaller islands, however, the most important centers are not always and almost never most of the towns and villages are located right on the coast. In Naxos, the largest of the Cyclades, only one center is on the sea; the other 23 are more or less distant and only 3 are at a height of less than 100 m., while the rest seem to climb up to the summit of Mount Oziá (Parnete, 1004 m.). But these are conditions that the past of the middle ages, with the uncertainty of its political conditions and the lack of safety of the seas, has linked to the present. Coastal in antiquity, the major island centers withdrew from the sea in later times, and now they tend to approach the sea again:
The major centers of the larger islands are decidedly coastal: Crete, Euboea and all the Ionian Islands and many of the recently acquired Aegean ones, which very often look towards an inland sea rather than the open sea. Thus Chania and Réthymnon and Candia (Hērákleion) on the island of Crete, Chalcis in Euboea, and Corfu, Lefkada, Ithaca, Zakynthos in the Ionian. And the major centers of the mainland are mostly coastal, but where, since ancient times, even the bottoms of the typical internal basins have exercised a recall action. Today there still remain some of the relatively more important centers, but in a completely secondary way compared to the coastal ones. In fact, look at the distribution of those cities whose number of residents exceeds 5,000. Of the most populated ones, one, Thessaloniki (236,524 residents In 1928), it is typically maritime, the other, Athens (452,919 residents), can also be considered as such, because it is almost by now connected by the town to its port, Piraeus, which has a population of 251,328 residents. Patras has 61,278 residents, Cavala has about 10,000, all the other towns remain below, and for the majority far below 40,000 residents. and they are in fact mainly coastal, only secondarily in the internal basins. Only the smaller centers, with populations under 5,000 residents, appear to be distributed a bit all over the place: that is, they too are mainly on the coast and then in the mountainous or hilly areas, but rarely on the bottoms of the internal basins. The large centers are therefore very scarce: indeed it can be said that the great majority of the Greek population is centered in very small and very scattered countries. Corfu, p. e.g., which is so densely populated and has a city of 32,221 residents, it has no more than 500 residents as the average population of its centers. But elsewhere the average population of the centers is even lower: in many regions of middle and northern Greece it is 300, 200 residents; in many areas of the Peloponnese it drops to 120 residents, and it should be borne in mind that these are average values and that therefore there are villages even with a few tens of souls. Sparse dwellings were so far very rare in Greece, but they are gradually increasing, as the residents no longer feel the need to live together for the purpose of easier defense. Next to the few scattered houses of the growers, the but they are gradually increasing, the residents no longer feeling the need to live united for the purpose of easier defense. Next to the few scattered houses of the growers, the but they are gradually increasing, the residents no longer feeling the need to live united for the purpose of easier defense. Next to the few scattered houses of the growers, the chánia, buildings that are located along the streets, in the points destined to the stages, and above all the monasteries: just indicate those of Achaia, and the other famous ones of the Meteors of Thessaly and all those of the monastic republic of Mount Athos.
The centers in Greece do not have a single, well-established character; it can be said that they change from region to region according to the political events and external influences suffered. Typical Italian imprint is certainly in the Ionian and also often in Crete; Turkish imprint, on the other hand, in some centers of Thessaly and the new territories; almost never, except in Athens, they appear linked to the remains of ancient cities, but often in the Peloponnese they still gather around the old Venetian fortresses or Frankish castles. And the most important, which are also the most recent, can be said to have no special character. The maritime centers of not recent origin and of Italian imprint have narrow alleys and high houses with several floors, all in masonry; those in which the Turkish influence is evident, they show houses at least partly built in timber and protruding balconies and verandas, and some mosques with the characteristic minaret, and often still the oriental type bazaar; the mountain villages, which the residents leave in winter to go down to the pastures of the plain, have small houses isolated from each other, surrounded by trees and vegetable gardens; in Maina (Mánē), the extreme peninsula that ends at C. Matapan, the houses are joined by vaults, which shelter the streets from too hot a sun. The major cities have no special characters due to their recent development, but Athens certainly has, with its monuments and palaces, lines that are not without grandeur.