Andros Travel Guide
How to reach Andros
You can reach Andros via Gavrio, the main port of the island, by a boat from Rafina (distance 37 n.m.). The trip takes about 2 hours (1 hour by a fast ship). There is a frequent service, which intensifies during summer (Rafina Port Authority: +30 2294 028888). You will reach Rafina by bus from Pedio Areos, Athens (KTEL bus service: +30 21 08210872).
The island is also connected directly with Tinos and Mykonos islands (daily), with Syros (twice a week) and the rest Cycladic islands. For more information contact Andros Port Authority, tel. +30 2282 022250.
Transport within the island is carried out by KTEL-Andros Bus Service (tel. +30 2282 022316), with frequent service between the villages.
Agios Petros Tower
Agios (Saint) Petros Tower, Hellenistic era (4th-3rd century B.C.), is one of the best preserved in Cyclades islands. It has cylindrical shape and its height is 20m. The base diameter is 9.40m and is made of local schist. In the interior there is a helical stair, which in the past was leading to at least five floors.
The tower is built at an ideal location, since it overlooks Gavrio area and the sea routes. In the nearby area there are copper extraction installations, in function till mid 20th century, with indications of ancient similar activities. Obviously the purpose of this monument was the control over land and sea.
Zoodochos Pigi Monastery
The largest monastery in Andros island is Zoodochos Pigi or Agia, as it is locally called. It is not known when it was built. According to unverified information, during Byzantine era it functioned as a School and transformed into a monastery in 842 by empress Theodora. It is also reported that many upper-class people were educated at the school, which gave many priest, bishops and even patriarchs. The monastery is mentioned for the first time in a document dating back to 1400, while in the church there is an icon dated 1325. It was renovated in 16th and 20th century and the original Byzantine form was changed. In 1928 it was transformed into a women monastery and today only one old nun lives there. The church of the monastery follows the Byzantine style with a woodcut iconostasis and paintings made during post-Byzantine period. There are also icons made in 14th and 16th century. Additionally there is a rich library with books and manuscripts, a museum with holy vestments and other things and a small collection of prehistoric tools. The monastery celebrates every year, on Friday that comes after Easter Sunday.
The monastery which, according to some information, was built in 9th century by Byzantine emperor Nikiforos Fokas, is situated high up the northern slope of "Gerakones" mountain. It has a fortification and many notable relics worth seeing. Here, you will admire the magnificent view to Andros (Hora) and the hospitality of the two monks.
Paleopoli is the ancient city of Andros island, which flourished from classical age till roman times. Today it is a picturesque green village at the slope of mountain Petalo, on which there are the probably unique waterfalls in Cyclades islands. Here, you can visit the Archeological Museum, which has many important findings from the excavations in the greater area. There are also tavernas and coffee shops. The ancient city was much lower, by the port, whose half sank pier is seen from the village. The road reaches the lowest point of the village and from there a path leads to the sea. The courageous can park by the asphalt road and take the steps leading down to the village, wander around and continue the descent. A well maintained path leads to the sea, in a journey through time. A magical walk by the picturesque spring, where the stone benches are made of ancient stones, the cows tied on ancient capitals and some stables supported on ancient pillars (pessos). Take a look at the old-Christian churches, the ancient wall and swim at the old port. Relax and take a rest, there are only 1039 steps on your way back.
Zagora peninsula is accessible after a 45 minutes walk, following the path starting from Stavropeda. The path is signed and the route is very interesting. The ancient settlement of Zagora is situated on the steep plateau (height 160m.) of the peninsula. The excavations, which took place between 1960 and 1972, brought into light a big part of it. The settlement has been alive from 10th century B.C. till the end of the 8th. It was protected by a strong wall, 110m long and 2-4.80m wide, while its height reached 3m. The entrance was through a large gate. Inside the settlement there is a sanctuary, established in 8th century B.C. and functioning till classical age, regardless the settlement was abandoned three centuries earlier. The houses were made of schist and the roofs covered with mud. They are usually constituted of a large rectangular room, with a fireplace in the center, with a separate storage room having supports made of stone for storing clay jars and stable with a yard. It is worth noticing that the same technique was still in use for building farmhouses till the beginning of 20th century. The findings of the excavations, as well as a representation of a house and the sanctuary, are exhibited at Andros Archeological Museum.
Pano Kastro (Upper Castle)
Pano Kastro (Upper Castle) or Faneromeni Castle or The Old Lady's Castle was the strongest and largest city in Andros island during the middle-ages. It was built by Venetians on top of a spectacular plateau north of Ormos, at a height of 600m. It could protect around 1000 (or more) people and it was considered to be impregnable, thanks to the high rocks and the strong wall surrounding it. Its history is unknown and this is the probable reason for the myths associated with it. According to the most known, the Ottomans, who could not conquer it, send there an old lady with her pregnant daughter to ask for help. Instead, the same night the old lady opened the gate and the Ottomans who finally went inside, slaughtered all the people. Later, the old lady, having regretted for what she did, climbed on a high peak and committed suicide, jumping towards the sea. So, her memory remained imprinted in two sights of the area: "the Old Lady's Castle" and "the Old Lady's Jump" (Grias Pidima), a nice beach nearby. Nowadays it is accessible through a path starting from Kochylou village and somebody can see ruins of houses, churches, cisterns and Faneromeni church. Above all, there is the magnificent view of the Aegean Sea and an impressive landscape.
Architecture in Andros island doesn't follow the strict rules of the traditional Cycladic patterns. Typical Aegean-type houses co-exist with neoclassical buildings, Venetian tower-houses and stone-houses. Common types of houses found in Andros are "makrynari", various types of towers and tower-houses, farm-houses and typical mansions of navy captains and merchants.
Other interesting buildings with special elements are "konakia", small farm houses, springs with characteristic "bousounari" or with a roof, water-mills and pigeon-houses (peristeriones). Characteristic elements of andriotic architecture are the visible slate stonework, "sardeloma" (outer plaster), "kanalos" (gutter), "stimata" (vertical slates) in stone-walls, etc. Many stone bridges are intact in various places of the island. Made of schist, simple and in harmony with the landscape, served as part of the old transport network.
In the beginning of the 20th century there were approximately 150 water-mills functioning in Andros island. A few dozen of them are preserved in good shape in "Dipotamata", a valley starting from Gianisaio and ending to Syneti bay. This valley is declared a protected area and the buildings within protected monuments of the pre-industrial period. A similar network of water-mills exists in "Frouseoi", near Amolochos, while isolated ones are scattered in other parts of the island as well. There are also wind-mills in the island and among them a very rare type, having a horizontal wheel. One of them is in good state near Piskopeio.
Museums - Events
The events making up the identity of the island could characterize Andros as the cultural capital of the Cycladic islands.
Vasilis and Eliza Goulandris Foundation organizes every summer at the Museum of Modern Art exhibitions of international importance, attracting thousands of visitors.
Petros and Marika Kydonieos Foundation organize art and music events named "Ploes".
Kairios Library makes a big contribution in studying and preserving the cultural tradition of the island and its people. The library maintains an extensive collection of rare publications, manuscripts, a historical archive, being active at the same time in the issue of the preservation of the natural environment.
Finally, the two archeological museums of the island (Andros and Paleopoli), as well as the Naval Museum, play an important role in presenting its long and rich history.