Andros. The island of the nobles
The island of Andros is located between Evia and Tinos islands. It is the northernmost island of the Cyclades and the second largest after Naxos. It has an area of 374 sq.km and the length of its shores is about 177 km. Its capital is Andros or Chora.
The locals call the island “rock”, because of the rocky and steep shores, that surround it. Andros has three ports. The main port to the east is Gavrio, which links to the port of Rafina in the mainland and a smaller port, named Batsi to the south. On the west side of the island is the port of Chora, which is mainly used for mooring private and fishing boats.
A brief history of Andros
The history of Andros is rich and goes back to prehistoric times. The island was inhabited during the Late Neolithic Period (4.500 – 3.200 BC). The most important settlement of this period was at Cape Strophilas. Later, during the Geometric Period (900 – 700 BC), the settlement of Zagora was founded, which is today one of the best preservable settlements from that era in Greece. Andros established three colonies in Chalkidiki. Akanthos, Sani and Stageira. The capital of the island during the classical era was Palaiopoli.
In the Byzantine era and especially in the 11th and 12th centuries, Andros went through great economic and spiritual prosperity. The island was part of the Byzantine Island Province and a naval base to dealing with pirates and Arabs in the Aegean Sea. Silk production and trade brought a lot of revenue to the island. Many churches were founded, such as the Church of Taxiarches in Messaria as well as monasteries, such as Zoodochou Pigi and Agios Nikolaos (St. Nicholas). In 1204 Andros came under the rule of the Venetians with the leadership going to Enrico Dandolo, the 42nd Doge of Venice.
The Venetians remained there until 1566, when the island passed into the hands of the Ottoman Turks. During the Turkish occupation, Andros was treated more favorably than other parts of Greece. However, the banner of the revolution was raised by Theophilos Kairis on 10th of May 1821. The people of Andros actively participated in the liberation struggle and manned the ships of Hydra and Psara islands.
After the revolution
Andros was liberated in 1826. During the first years of the existence of the new Greek state, there was a rapid growth of shipping on the island. The population began to rise and the settlements of Gavrio, Batsi and Korthi Bay were established. At that time, Andros or Chora became the capital of the island. The shipowners of the 19th with their sailboats and steamships were the pioneers of Greek shipping. Their fleet expanded even more during the next century and Andros occupied one of the largest fleets in the world in the mid-20th century.
1. Theopfilos Kairis
Theophilos Kairis was a scholar, priest and philosopher. He was born on the 19th of October 1784 and died in January 1853 in Syros. He met Adamantios Korais in Paris and was influenced by the principles of the French Enlightenment. He was initiated into the Filiki Eteria and actively participated in the Greek revolution. He contributed to the drafting of the Greek Constitution of 1828 and addressed Ioannis Kapodistrias as the first Greek governor, upon his arrival in Greece. He founded the Andros Orphanage in 1835.
2. Andreas Empeirikos
Andreas Empeirikos was one of the greatest Greek poets and novelists. He was born in Romania in 1901 and died on the 3rd of August 1975. He was also an advocate of surrealism in Greece, which he learned during his stay in Paris in the 1920s. He was also involved in psychoanalysis. His poems are erotic, while his speech is ironic and intractable.
Major Sights of Andros
Visitors can see and admire many attractions on the island of Andros.
1. The Tower of St. Peter (Agios Petros)
The Tower of St. Peter was built during the Hellenistic era. It is 20 meters high and is made of local slate. It had five floors and a vaulted roof, and its purpose was to control the navigation of ships around the port of Gavrio.
Palaiopolis was the ancient capital of Andros. It was built near the sea and the ancient pier of its port is submerged in water. The city flourished in the classical period until the Roman period and was abandoned in the 7th century AD. The modern city is built on the slopes of Mount Petalo and offers an impressive view of the blue waters of the Aegean.
3. The Venetian Castle
The Venetian castle was located on the edge of Chora and it is built on a rock. It was built during the Venetian occupation and was connected to the mainland by an arched stone bridge (Kamara). The castle was bombed by the Germans in 1943 and destroyed completely. Today only the Kamara and the ruins of a tower survive.
4. The Statue of the Invisible Sailor
It is located at the square of Riva and is the work of the sculptor Michalis Tombros. It is the symbol of the seamanship of Andros and was placed on the pedestal in 1958. However, a strong wind in 2000 threw the statue from the pedestal and broke it. It was relocated in 2001. The square of Riva offers stunning views of the sea and beaches around the city.
For the lovers of the sea and water sports, Andros has many beaches.
Fellos beach is located northwest of the port of Gavrio. It has a long sandy beach and crystal waters. It is not an organized beach and is considered one of the best on the island.
2. Agios Petros (St. Peter)
This beach is located at the homonymous village and is organized with sunbeds and a beach bar. It is the largest beach on the island with clear waters and sand.
3. Chrisi Ammos
It is located next to the beach of Agios Petros and is the most popular beach of Andros. It is fully organized with sunbeds and beach bar. The beach is ideal for summer games.
The sandy beach is located at the homonymous settlement of Mpatsi. It has sunbeds and shallow waters and is ideal for families. Behind the beach you can find cafeterias and taverns.
5. Korthi Bay
The beach at Ormos Korthiou is large with clear blue waters. It is suitable for water sports due to the winds that blow there.
6. Tis Grias to Pidima
It is located next to the Korthi Bay and is one of the most famous beaches on the island. It has sand and pebbles, while its waters are crystal clear. Her trademark is the standing rock protruding from the sea.
Achla beach is located at the eastern part of the island north of Chora. It is probably the most beautiful beach of Andros. Access is only by boat or by a dirty road. Its waters are blue and green with fine sand.