Landscape, history & architecture | Andros

For the trip to the island of Andros, located in the Cyclades, we could not wait. Though we liked Athens a lot, we dreamed of changing the surroundings and moving to a place from which emanated peace and a very perceptible island tradition. We spent only two days on Andros. Only, because this place swallowed us so much that we could have stayed here for the minimum of one week. On the other hand, it was enough time to see the most important attractions of this place.

We have so much information for you that we’ve decided to divide it into three posts, creating Complete Guide to the Island of Andros:

How to get there?

Travelling to Andros is easier than you might think. Many planes land every day in Athens from all over the world, and now also from Lodz. After landing, take the bus that goes from the Airport to the Rafina harbour. The journey takes about 40 minutes. From Rafina, on the other hand, Andros can be reached by ferry, e.g. Fast Ferries. Depending on the season, the number of ferries reaching the island varies from 2 to 5 daily, and the course from the port takes about 2 hours.


The landscape

Andros is the northernmost island of Cyclades. It is also the second largest, just after the island of Naxos (the area of 374 square meters). There are about 9,000 inhabitants, however, in the season, the population increases. Andros is an island of mountainous terrain. Its highest mountain is Petalo (997 m above sea level). The locals often call it “The Rock” because of its rocky coast and tiny islets surrounding it. The subsoil is almost exclusively composed of crystalline schist blessing the island with numerous springs, with very clean water and rivers that provide great conditions for the plants’ growth. On the slopes of the mountains grow oaks, walnut trees, lemon trees, other fruit and olive trees. The soil on the island is fertile, so the Greeks of Andros can enjoy delicious local products. They plant vegetables here (including tomatoes, cucumbers, eggplants, peppers, courgettes, local lettuce, capers) as well as fruits (e.g. apricots, peaches, figs, and citruses: lemons, grapefruits and oranges. Due to the presence of groundwater, they do not need to import it from the mainland. We’ve learned that they even bottled it up. Being in local restaurants, it is very likely that you will get this tasty, local water.

There are three ports on the island, the one designed for the ferries is called Gavrio. In the port of Batsi, just a few kilometres from Gavrio, private boats are moored, while in the port of Chora, you’ll find many fishing boats.

The history

According to the common view, the island took its name from Andros, General Radamanthys, king of Crete. This proves that Andros was under the Cretan sovereignty, as did other islands in the Aegean Sea. Due to its location, Andros has been a strategic point in almost all periods in history. The last excavations in Cape Strobila revealed a prehistoric settlement belonging to the Neolithic period (4500-3200 BC), with numerous cave paintings depicting mainly boats and scenes with wild animals and birds. The settlement was characterized as the most important of this period and best preserved in the Aegean Sea. A bit further south is Zagora – one of the best preserved Greek settlements in the Geometric period (900-700 BC). Findings from the Bronze Age (200 BC) can be found in the area of Plaka (south of Zagora), and also in the archaeological site of Ypsili. During the classical period, Palaiopolis, the capital of Andros, was surrounded by about fifty settlements, the finds of rich coinage indicate the prosperity of those times. In the 11th and 12th century, Andros experienced intense growth. It has become known all over the world thanks to its silk products and sea trade. During this period, excellent examples of religious architecture were built, such as the Taxiarches churches in Messaria, Melida, Ypsilou and Kimisis Theotokou in Mesathouri. In the same period – and a bit later – the monasteries of Zoodochos Pigi, Agios Nikolaos and Panachrantou were built.

In the modern times Andros, despite the failures of the first and second world war, was still at the top of commercial shipping and economic prosperity. It is worth mentioning that at the beginning of the 20th-century Andriot shipowner Dimitris Moraitis launched the Greece – North America sea route. The Second World War caused significant damages to the island. At the end of the fifties, a great wave of emigration began, both to major urban centres in Athens and Piraeus, as well as abroad (mainly to the USA), which dramatically reduced the population of the island. Over the past 2-3 years, the island has experienced a renewed growth, focusing mainly on tourism.

The Architecture

The architecture on Andros is really interesting because it is different from this on other Cyclades islands. There are several styles here: typical houses with neoclassical buildings, Venetian towers and fortresses, old water mills and fountains. The architecture of Andros has many aspects, but it is particularly well-known for the cosmopolitan atmosphere and cultural identity that holds in the last decades. Around Chora and picturesque villages, you can see excellent examples of the rural houses standing near the Venetian towers. Equally impressive are the beautiful residences that can be found throughout the island, which were built during the Turkish rule. Another feature of Andros are many dovecotes that decorate the island, they can be found mainly in the Korthi region. Stone structures built in geometric shapes forming triangles, diamonds and circles give the island a beautiful tone.

Where to stay?

Visitors will find many hotels on Andros that were created with similarities to traditional Cycladic architecture. An excellent example is the hotel Aneroussa Beach Hotel very close to the Batsi town. This calm resort will appeal to people who prefer a homely atmosphere, silence and great views. The hotel has access to a sandy beach with a bar opened in high season. Pastel buildings, numerous plants and flowers add unmistakable charm. The proximity of Batsi allows you to take a walk to the village for shopping or dinner. It is also a good base for exploring the whole island.
However, if you prefer a different location, there are a number of different hotels or rooms to choose from. An extensive accommodation base can be found here.

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Brought to you by: Julia & Przemyslaw

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