Andros (383 km2) is the most northerly Cycladic island and the second largest after Naxos. It is an oblong island between Tinos and the southern coast of Euboea, from which it is separated by the strait of Cavo d’oro (Cape Kafireas). For the most part its surface is mountainous, with Kouvara (990 m) and Petalo (910 m) at the center of the island being its main massifs. Its coasts are steep, forming deep leeward coves, long capes, and short, secluded and not easily accessible beaches. Andros’ high annual rainfall is the highest in the Cyclades and differentiates its climate from the dry climate and the arid grounds of the other Cycladic islands. Andros has plenty of rain and underground water; this is why in antiquity it was also called Hydrousa (hydor means water in Ancient Greek). It also has fertile cultivable land, where citrus fruits, olive trees and vineyards are cultivated, as well as a rich flora (planes, eucalyptuses, oaks) and fauna (birds of prey, etc). Its subsoil is relatively rich in exploitable minerals (iron, manganese, slate, marble). The geological formation of the ground helps retaining water; therefore, ot is not surprising that Andros has plenty of springs with mineral water (Sariza, Arna’s Spring, Alasa, etc).
According to mythology, the island was named after the hero Andros, a descendant of Apollo or Dionysus. He left the island after its habitants revolted, and founded the city of Antandros in the area of Troas in Asia Minor.
As far as the archaeological research permits us to discern Andros remote history, it seems that in the Late Neolithic Period (4th millennium BC) the island had two significant organized settlements: Strofilla at its western part, and Mikrogiali at its northeastern coast. They place Andros within the Cycladic cultural phases of Saliangos, of Antiparos and of Kefala on Kea. During the Early Cycladic and Middle Cycladic Period (3000-1600 BC), the naturally fortified and strategically important settlement of Plaka flourished on Andros’s western coast. It was connected to the contemporary settlements of Fylakopi on Milos, Agia Eirini on Kea and Akrotiri on Thera (Santorini). Only three Mycenaean vessels dating from the Late Bronze Age have been unearthed at Palaiopoli and the Korthi cove in Andros. Zagora and Ypsili, two fortified settlements built on hills at the western coast, are typical of the Geometric Period (10th - 8th century BC), a time of great prosperity for the island. From the Archaic Period (7th - 6th century BC) up to Late Antiquity, Andros’ cultural center was transferred to the broader region of Palaiopoli, which had an acropolis, a main city, a fertile hinterland and natural harbors.
Andros took part in the first colonization (11th - 9th century) establishing important colonies in Chalcidice: Stageira (Aristotle’s hometown), Acanthus and Argilus. During the Persian Wars, Andros fought with the Persians, and withstood the subsequent Athenian attack for retaliation. It joined the first Athenian League and supported the Athenians during the Peloponnesian War. Up to 399 BC, when the Athenians proclaimed it free, Andros had been contended for by Athenians and Spartans. In the 4th century BC, during the Macedonian reign on the Cyclades, Andros was enrolled in the . During the time of Alexander’s successors, Andros was integrated into the kingdom of the Ptolemies up to 199 BC, when the Romans, the new rulers of the Aegean, gave it to the kingdom of Pergamon. Attalos I later granted it to Rome (133 BC). In the Early Byzantine period (4th - 6th century) it was a part of the Province of Islands of the Byzantine Empire, whereas after the 7th century it was integrated into the of the Aegean Sea.
In the Middle Ages, Saracen incursions plagued the island; its cultural life, however, was not interrupted. The development of silk industry during the time of the Comneni emperors (11th-12th century) became the backbone of the island’s economy, turning it into a centre for exporting velvet and gossamer fabric to the West.
After the Franks conquered Constantinople (1204), Andros was granted to the Venetian doge’s nephew Marino Dandolo, who expanded the Lower Castle of the modern city of Andros. The island came under the rule of several noble Italian families, while it was always under Venetian influence. For a time it was integrated to the Duchy of Naxos. It seems that during Frankish rule Albanian-speaking populations from Attica and Euboea moved en masse to the island and settled there, mainly in its northern part.
When the Ottomans took Andros in 1566, the inhabitants where inclined rather favorably to their rule. During Ottoman rule, Andros, as other Aegean islands, enjoyed a set of administrative privileges, which contributed to a certain economic prosperity and ensured the predominance of the families that originated in the feudal system of the previous period. As the other islands of the Cyclades, Andros was inder Russian rule in the 1770s, during the naval operations of the Russian fleet in the Aegean within the framework of the Russo-Ottoman war.
On May 10, 1821, Theofilos Kairis, one of the leading scholars of Greek Enlightenment, raised the flag of the Revolution on the island. After its integration into the young Greek state, Andros stood out for developing its shipping economy, even though it was affected by burgeoning Athens. Merchant shipping boosted the local economy through the import of foreign exchange and Andros in its turn attracted wealthy tourists. That, along with the particularly rich cultural life of the island, turned Andros into a popular destination for both Greek and foreign visitors.
3. Archaeological sites and monuments
The most significant organized site on the island is the fortified extended settlement of Zagora, which flourished during the Geometric Period (10th - 8th century BC). The massive walls, the imposing gate with the oblong bastion, the well-preserved houses with storerooms, internal columns, meeting and dining rooms, as well as the shrine with the posterior temple, make it one of the most rich Geometric sites in Greece. Zagora is accessible through a wide passable dirt road crossing the plateau of the steep peninsula up to the site. To get to the site one can take the road from Batsi to Korthi; after village Zaganiaris there is the junction with the dirt road.
An equally extended Geometric settlement with a strong fortification, building remnants dating up to the Roman era, and a megaron-like temple with a double altar (6th century BC) can be found on the hill of Ypsili, a bit to the north of Zagora, at the end of the main road network from Batsi to the city of Andros.
Zagora and Ypsili make Andros the most significant place for studying the Geometric period on Greek islands and connect it with equivalent data from Attica and Euboea. Moreover, they underline the prominent role the island had as a control centre of the area’s sea routes.
Between Zagora and Ypsili we find the site of Palaiopoli, the island’s ancient capital (6th century BC - 6th century AD), which has been excavated at different times since the 19th century (Kleanthis, Th. Kairis, A. Miliarakis, N. Kontoleon). The massive slate walls with indentations and successive gates, the ancient agora, the two cemeteries with important funerary sculptures (4th century BC), as well as the remnants of Early Byzantine basilicas have been brought to light. The traces of the ancient breakwater are also visible at the seabed. Some of the most characteristic findings are housed in the Archaeological Museum of Palaiopoli.
The towers scattered on the island also date from Andros’s heyday (4th - 3rd century BC). They had been probably built in order to guard and protect the mainland. At the village of Agios Petros, near the port of Gavrio, we find the best-preserved one, a five-storey cylindrical slate tower with an internal spiral staircase. Iron ore mine facilities near Pyrgos and in the Trochalia area at the island’s northwestern part bear witness to one of the economic activities of Andros' ancient residents.
Some noteworthy churches and monasteries dating from Byzantine Times survive today, as the church of Taxiarch Michael at Mesaria, the church of the Taxiarch of Melida at Pitrofos and the Monastery of Zoodochos Pigi. These monuments date from the time of the Komnenoi emperors (11th century AD), a period of prosperity for Andros brought by the development of silk industry. The monuments have also gone through later reconstructions and additions.
The so-called Kato Kastro (“Lower Castle”), dating from the turbulent Middle Ages, stood at the end of the Chora peninsula. Only the stone arched bridge connecting the settlement with the mainland has survived. The rest was destroyed during the German bombardment in 1943. Today are visible remnants of the turrets, the gateways and some houses. Epano Kastro (“Upper Castle”), with its massive walls and its water supply facilities that were particularly valuable in case of sieges, is considered to have been the centre of medieval Andros. The settlement at Fallika and the rectangular Tower of Makrotantalos checking the passage of Kafireas at the northwestern coast complement Andros’ medieval defensive architecture.
4. Traditional architecture – Traditional occupations
Chora (Andros) is the finest example of the island’s traditional architecture. The typical houses of Andros are one- or two-storey high buildings with large yards and large balconies supported on columns or arches. A lot of elements of exterior decoration are used: plaster door and window frames, the so-called sardelomata (lime mortars with oblong carved-in bands), the fteromata (slate ledges at the edges of buildings for wall protection and support), the tile mansard roofs with antefixes or triangular pediments, and kapasoi (extremities of chimney pots). Houses are mostly built with local slates bound with mud. On the first floor are the storage and cooking rooms, as well as the lavatories, whereas on the second one are the bedrooms and the living and dining rooms. The two floors are connected with internal stairs. The oblong or serpentine lime-rendered streets of the old part of Chora, where no vehicles are allowed, contribute to the preservation of the traditional flair of the place. The layout of the houses’ interiors, where libararies and studies are to be found among theother rooms, reflects the historical formation of a particular social stratum with bourgeois features and interests; however, there are also houses of more rural elements. It seems that the private space on Andros focused more on rooms for gathering rather than for everyday use.
At the same time, tall square towers of 17th - 19th century notables in the countryside supplement the island’s architecture. They had basements for storage, as well as many rooms, whereas their elevated main entrance was accessed with a ladder. The oldest one is the three-storey Bistis-Mouvelas Tower at Stenies, with the inscription “Stamatelos Bistis” on its façade (1734). After the 19th century and the flourish of maritime economy, these buildings evolved into today’s mansions, which are in fact a more sophisticated version of the old towers.
The residents’ occupations – already since the foundation of the Greek state (1830) – revolved around merchant shipping. The formation of a class of ship-owners with international fame and activity, has contributed through the continuing influx of exchange, as well as various donations, to the boosting of local economy and the reshaping of the island’s modern image. The ambitious Museum of Contemporary Art of the Basil and Elise Goulandris Foundation attracts art lovers and with its permanent and temporary exhibitions makes Andros one of the cultural centres of the Cyclades. At the same time, the Kaireios Library, the house of Theofilos Kairis, and the contribution of Andros to literature with Andreas Embeirikos, the most important representative of surrealism in Greece, as its leading figure, give a distinctive flair to the island and emphasize its identity as a place that combines physical beauty with cultural development and tradition.
(Transl. Onoufrios Dovletis)
5. Shipping on Andros
Accounts of sailing boat building on Andros survive from the pre-revolutionary period. A codex of the Andros archbishopric contains an act dating from 1783 which includes “an account of the silver coins offered by ship-owners and other sailors for the support the Greek school”. The development of shipping on the island concerned mainly the Chora, since the large majority of its inhabitants were sailors, as well as the village of Stenies. During this period the island’s ships were small and did not attempt long journeys. The ownership of the vessels was shared.
It has been maintained that the general advancement of shipping on Andros during the first post-revolutionary period was due to the presence of inhabitants from Psara, who settled here after the destruction of their island and devoted themselves systematically to ship-building, despite local reaction concerning the “destruction of fruit-bearing trees”. Moreover, the decline of traditional naval centres such as Galaxidi, Hydra and Spetses allowed the advancement of others; Andros was among them. In 1835, its port held the tenth place among Greek ports with regards to traffic. The island’s ship-building needs were covered on the island itself, mainly on the sandy coast of Emboreios.
After the mid-19th century, boats from Andros were travelling as far as India and America. The “Joint Insurance” company was founded on Andros in 1873, while in 1890 the local shipping register listed 75 sailing boats, built mainly on Syros, as local ship-building could no longer cover demand. Andrian ship-owners participated in the grain trade conducted via the Danube ports of Braila and Galati. Many followed the example of Cephalonian (mainly) merchants, who had established trading houses and naval agencies in cities along the Danube estuary, where thriving Greek communities developed. The surplus from this trade allowed shipping on Andros to make the transition to steam. In 1898, the island held the fourth place with regards to the capacity of its ships – which represented 10% of the total capacity of Greek-owned steam-powered ships –, while in 1914 the equivalent capacity placed it in second place among local shipping registers.
At the beginning of the 20th century, many of those who had become rich through shipping remained on the island. Dimitrios Moraitis set up the offices of his company, founded in 1906, on the island, and managed its ocean liners travelling to the New World from there. Greek steam-powered ocean shipping was continued by the Embeirikos Brothers, also from Andros, with the “National Steam Shipping” of Greece in 1908 and by Leonidas Goulandris after the war.
The First World War cost Andros some naval forces but also created “war gains”. A little later the steamers registered at its port reached 25 (1921); just before the Second World War the equivalent number was 80, placing Andros in second place behind Piraeus. Only ten of these ships survived the Second World War. The important ship-owner families had already since the mid-war period begun to transfer their head offices to the shipping centres of the time: Syros, Piraeus but also London. Shipping had become an international business; after this time, one can hardly speak of Andrian shipping.
(Transl. Klio Panourgias)
6.1. Museum of Contemporary Art
The Museum of Contemporary Art at τηε Chora of Andros was founded in 1979 on the initiative of Basil and Elise Goulandris, members of a family of ship-owners from Andros.
The sculptures of the artist Michalis Tombros’ (1889-1974), who was also from Andros, were the focus of the museum's collection. Tombros studied in Athens and Paris with celebrated teachers as A. Malliol. After his return to Greece, his exhibitions, his teaching at the Athens School of Fine Arts and his initiatives, as the foundation of the artists' group Omada Technis and the publication of the journal Eikostos Aionas (Twentieth Century), were determinative for Modern Greek art, especially during the 1930’s.
Later on, the founders of the museum enriched its collection with other eminent artists’ works, which belonged to the founders' collection. Their ambition was to offer the public a broader perspective on Greek postwar art (both sculpture and painting).
Thus, the museum houses works by sculptors that were students of Tombros at the School of Fine Arts, but finally followed a different direction (Gerasimos Sklavos, Giorgos Nikolaidis, Memos Makris). It also houses works of other artists as Giannis Pappas, Giorgos Zongolopoulos, Takis, Chryssa and Sofia Vari, who played a similar role as Tombros, through their efforts to renew Modern Greek sculpture by drawing from their experiences and studies abroad.
Paintings of artists, who were contemporaries of the sculptors and shared common pursuits with them, have been placed next to the sculptures. Ampong the most important are Nikos Hatzikyriakos-Ghikas, Giorgos Gounaropoulos, Giorgos Bouzianis, Nikos Moralis, Giannis Tsarouchis and Spyros Vasiliou. Efforts are still being made for contemporary trends and artists - as Alekos Fasianos, Dinos Vyzantios, Vasilis Fotopoulos - to be represented in the museum.
Apart from the exhibition of its permanent collection, the museum has also been hosting temporary exhibitions already since its foundation. As the original space proved insufficient, a new wing was inaugurated in 1986 opposite the old building. The old wing is now almost exclusively devoted to sculpture. In winter, the new wing houses the collection of the founders, whereas in the summertime it houses temporary exhibitions devoted to Greek (Karagatsis, Mytaras, Gaitis, Zouni, etc) or - more frequently - to international artists (Pablo Picasso, Georges Braque, Juan Miro, Henry Moore, Marc Chagal etc).
The museum’s exhibitions, especially regarding international artists, are very important and popular cultural events, since they introduce the public to the work of important artists, who as a rule are not represented in the collections of Greek museums.
(Transl. Onoufrios Dovletis)
6.2. Archaeological Museum of Andros
The Archaeological Museum of Andros is situated at the Chora, in Kairis Street, opposite the Museum of Contemporary Art. It is accommodated in a building covering an area of 1500 m2, which was erected in 1981 to the architectural design of Stamos Papadakis and was funded by the Basil and Elise Goulandris Foundation.
The collections of the museum provide a panoramic picture of the history of the island until the Byzantine period, starting with finds from the Geometric settlement of Zagora, which are exhibited in the four rooms of the first floor and are surrounded by rich relevant material. The same floor also accommodates a copy of the "Charta" (map) of the late 18th-century Greek revolutionary Rigas Feraios. On the ground floor there is a selection of sculptures covering the time from the Archaic until the Roman period. Among them, of particular interest are two headless bodies of Archaic kouroi and a marble statue of a naked man known as ‘Hermes of Andros’, as well as a 1st c. BC Roman replica of a bronze statue of Praxiteles found in Palaiopoli along with a headless female statue, a 1st c. BC replica of a 3rd c. BC statue. The rest of the ground floor rooms accommodate inscriptions and sculptures of the early Byzantine and Byzantine periods.
The museum has a projection room, conservation laboratories and storerooms, while works of modern art are exhibited at the atrium in collaboration with the Museum of Contemporary Art. Various cultural events are also held in this place.
6.3. Maritime Museum of Andros
The Maritime Museum is in Riva of the Chora of Andros, in a building offered by Dimitrios Rallias to the Municipality of Andros in 1957. The museum was founded in 1972 and presents the development of Andros’ shipping throughout time. The exhibits of the museum include traditional costumes of Andros, freight contracts, insurance contracts, nautical diaries, lithographs of Andriot ships, as well as models of modern and old Andriot ships.
6.4. Kaireios Library
The Kaireios Library was founded in 1987. It is in the Chora of Andros, in Kairis Square, and is accommodated in a building offered for this reason by the Kambanis family. The library houses the personal collection of books of the intellectual and scholar of Greek Enlightenment Theofilos Kairis, which includes approximately 3000 books, as well as rare editions and unique manuscripts. The library also houses the historical archive of the island as well as works of art (oil paintings, pictures, engravings and a collection of ancient items).
In total, the library comprises about 60,000 volumes. It also includes a department for preserving and binding books, a lending library and a reading room serving the needs of its visitors, as well as a department with children’s literature. At the same time, the Kaireios Library carries on intense publishing activities, while various cultural events held on the island are under its auspices (excavations, conferences, etc.).
The Agadakis mansion and the Agadakis traditional oil press in the village of Apatouria, have been granted to the library and house part of the library’s collection of folk culture objects.
6.5. Branch of the Kaireios Library: ‘House of Michael E. Kydonieus’
The branch of the Kaireios Library accommodated in the ‘House of Michael E. Kydonieus’ originally belonged to the family of Michael E. Kydonieus. It is a two-storey neoclassical building in the Chora of Andros built circa 1920. The library at first bought the first floor of the building and in 2002 the ground floor. It houses part of the library collections, while at the same time important exhibitions are held there, such as the map exhibition ‘Andros and the Cyclades’.
6.6. Petros and Marika Kydonieus Foundation
The Petros and Marika Kydonieus Foundation was founded in 1994 and is accommodated in the Chora of Andros, in Kairis Street. The aim of the foundation is to host artistic, literary, theatrical and musical events. The particularly important annual event ‘Ploes’ was established in 1995; exhibitions of modern arts are organized within its framework. Works by Tsoklis, Takis, Pavlos, Fasianos and other contemporary Greek artists have been exhibited in this place.
6.7. Archaeological Museum of Palaiopoli
The Archaeological Museum of Palaiopoli of Andros is housed in a building of the community of Palaiopoli offered by the Basil and Elise Goulandris Foundation. It was founded in 2003 and includes the finds from the excavations at Palaiopoli. The exhibits are divided into three thematic units: the miscellaneous finds (Room Α) include vessels, tools, jewellery, statuettes, coins, etc. and cover the period from the Neolithic Age until the early Byzantine years. The sculptures are exhibited in Room Β. Among them, the most important is a marble sculpted complex representing Pegasus and Bellerophon (6th c. BC), as well as a marble statue of a lion (4th c. BC). Finally, a collection of inscriptions dating from between the 5th c. BC and the 3rd c. AD is exhibited in Room C, the most important item being an inscribed marble plaque with an excerpt from a hymn in honour of goddess Isis.
6.8. Museum of Folklore and Christian Art
The exhibits of the Folklore and Christian Art Museum in the Chora of Andros are divided into three units: ‘The House of Andros’, with exhibits concerning everyday life in a traditional house of the island, ‘The Products and Occupations of Andros’ and the third section that includes icons, silver and gold ecclesiastical objects, as well as iconostases carved on wood from churches of the island.
6.9. Cycladian Museum of Olive (Olive Press of Helmis)
The Cycladian Museum of Olive in Andros consists of two old oil presses of the island, the Helmis press in Pitrofos and the Lembesis press in Remata. The facilities have been renovated and transformed into museums. The visitors may observe the process of oil production and processing in the rural settlements of Andros, as well as be informed about the importance of olive culture on the island at an ecological, economic and social level.
(Transl. George Velentzas)
7. Hiking on Andros
Andros’s land is characterized by consecutive horizontal crests, which allow to cross the island from the east to the west, but also hinder communication between the island’s northern and southern part. This lie of land has contributed to the creation of a network of cobblestone roads and paths with many branches, which connect the northwestern and the southeastern coast. In an effort to preserve and highlight traditional stone paths, some of which actually follow the traces of the ancient road network, eight hiking routes have been created. They have signs and in-between stations, and can be covered within 1 hour and 50 minutes to 3 hours and 45 minutes. The walk in the island’s rich vegetation, close to the small settlements (Arnas, Mesathouri, Menites) of the hinterland with their traditional architecture, suggest an ideal destination for alternative tourism and for lovers of nature, hiking and exercise.
(Transl. Onoufrios Dovletis)