Two hours by ferry from the harbour of Rafina are enough to arrive to Andros. It is an island with particular personality, which combines Cycladic characteristics, with the calm self-sufficiency of a place with a rich hinterland, a long history and a rich tradition. It is the most northern island of Cyclades and second in size after Naxos, with an extent of 373 square kilometres. In comparison to most Cycladic islands, Andros is full of green, thanks to its abundance in water.
In this particular natural environment you will find a gracious cultural heritage and a rich naval tradition, which begins many centuries ago and still continues by many local ship owners and seamen, painters, sculptors and scholars. Andros has masterfully been characterized as a “floating museum of culture”. The visitor has a chance to combine his vacations with events of high quality and variety.
Capital of island is the Hora of Andros, built on a peninsula in the eastern coast of the island. It is a beautiful settlement (built precisely next to the sea) that combines its traditional Cycladic architecture with neoclassical mansions. On Andros,houses have red tiled roofs, something that adds an individual brushstroke to the allready colourful palette of the Cycladic landscape.
At the northern part of the island you will meet the coastal settlements of Gavrio and Mpatsi, which both constitute the main tourist infrastructure of the island. Gavrio is the basic harbour of Andros. The Bay of Korthi dominates settlements of the southern part of the island. It is a picturesque village with a long beach, which has developed into a vacation centre.
Andros is suitable for hiking, having enough green and a variety of highlands and valleys. The signed path network of the island includes 12 routes of paved streets and paths of a total length of 85 kilometres. It gives the possibility to the sightseer of getting closer to the history and culture of the island.
The Hora of Andros is a sight of its own, with streets made of black marble, splendid mansions, four museums and a Venetian castle. Very important discoveries from the impressive cultural past of the island are exposed in the Archaeological Museum of Hora. The famous statue of Hermis of Andros that was found in Palaiopoli is one of them.
Goulandri Museum of Modern Art
It is a museum with international fame, which was inaugurated in 1979 and extended in 1986. The new wing of the museum includes a library, a projection room and spaces with presentation possibilities of international exhibitions. During most of the year, works of Modern Greek artists (Fasianos, Pavlos, Kounelis, Tsoklis, Psychopaidis, Manolidis etc.) but also of important foreign artists (Rodin, Richier, Cesar etc.)are exposed. The occasional exhibitions of great artists works that the Institution organises each summer in the New Wing, constitute important happenings in the world of art. Works of Picasso, H. Matisse, V. Kandinsky, Balthus, D. Galani, A. Giacometti, P. Klee, Chagal, G. de Chirico, A. Rodin, C. Claudel etc. have been exhibited up to today. The collection of works of modern art is one of the most important in Greece. The museum belongs to the Institution Vasilis and Eliza Goulandri.
Hora – The Naval Museum
This Museum was founded in 1972. The exhibits are prototypes and lively present, the whole history of Andrian commercial shipping history, from ancient years up to today.
Hora – Folkloric and Religious Art Museum
An all different museum situated at the Chora region. Is founded as a result of well implemented changes to an old ice making shop.It proudly presents the folclore civilization of the island as long as it decently informs visitors on Agiography, silversmith arts and on the various woodcut temples of Andros churches.In addition, during summer there are organised various innovative visual happenings, festivals and several science and thematical meetings.
The most interesting archaeological sites of Andros are:
Palaiopoli, south of Mpatsi, which is built on the slopes of the mountain Petalo, in the position of the ancient capital of Andros. It is a coastal settlement with a lot of green and of great archaeological interest.
From ancient Andros, which was the capital of the island since the Classic up to the Roman period, ruins of walls, the market, temples, but also vessels, jewels, sculptures, etc. have been found, and are exhibited in the archaeological museum of Palaiopolis.
At the archaeological site of the Geometric settlement of Zagora, ruins of walls and traces of residences are still preserved. Sculptures, ceramic and stone tools have been found in the region, and are today exhibited in the archaeological museum of Palaiopolis.
The archaeological site of Ypsili, which belongs to the Geometric period, is found in the region of Kato Aprovatou. Ruins of a settlement and a fortified citadel are found in the region. At the centre of the citadel, a temple was excavated, with dimensions of 7 to 10 metres,is dated in the Archaic period (6th century B.C.). The double altar and the discoveries imply that the temple was probably a place of double adoration, perhaps of Dimitra and Persephone. Within the citadel an important building group with four built-up phases, from the Geometric to the Hellenistic and Roman periods, was revealed. The settlement appears to be abandoned at a great extent at the end of the 8th century B.C., but life continued existing in the limited space of the citadel.
Another small, but appreciable ancient settlement was discovered in the place Mikrogiali, in the eastern coast of northern Andros. The ceramic findings show that it chronologically corresponds with another important settlement of the Cyclades in Kefala of Kea. Mikrogiali covers the very interesting transient phase from the Neolithic period to the period of Copper, in the early Cycladic era (3rd millenium B.C.), that constitutes the beginning of the Cycladic Culture.
The Menites villages
The Menites villages – among them and the famous water source of Sariza village- are famous since antiquity times for being the “sources of Dionusos” and according to mythology they were flowing wine.
Andros has two Venetian castles. The first is found in Hora. A small stone bridge connects Hora with the island where in 1207 the Castle was built by the Venetian Marino Dandolo. The castle was destroyed in 1943, at the duration of bombardments of the island by the Germans and its ruins are saved till today.
The second castle is the Castle of Faneromeni or Pano Castle, which is found north of the bay of Korthi at an altitude of 600 metres. It constituted the bigger fortified settelment of Andros, which housed 1.000 residents.
The Tower of Agios Petros
The impressive Tower of Agios Petros is found 3 kilometres north-east of Gayrio. It is a Classical-Hellenistic observatory. It is dated around the 4th -3rd century B.C. The Tower is cylindrical and built of slate, with a height of 20m. and a diameter of 9,40m. It was used for the protection of locals from the raids of enemies and pirates. Today the dome of the base has collapsed, as well as the upper section of the tower. However part of the spiral stone staircase that led to the five floors still exists.
Located north of Hora, this green settlement is famous for its waters and its source Sariza. Its water is diuretic and is advisable for kidney and stomach diseases.
The Kaireios Library was founded with a Presidential Decree in 1987. Today the Library has 35.000 books (many of which are old and rare publications), in manuscripts, an extensive archive, many works of art and objects of historical value and traditional culture. A loaning department and a department with children’s books function in the Library. The institution organises each year training seminars for bookbinding, maintenance of old books and documents and maintenance and recording of folklore objects.
The tower – residences of notables that were built at the 17th and 18th century are important landmarks of Andros. They are tall, square residences with many rooms and storage spaces. The entrance to the tower was a small door that was placed high from the ground and accessible only by a mobile wooden ladder. An array of martial and special constructions protected tenants from their enemies. The Tower of Mpistis (Mouvela) in Stenies from the17th century, the Tower of Mastroyannoulis in Amolocho from the 17th – 18th century, the Tower of Lorentzou Kairi in Mesaria and the tower of Folerou in Strampourgies are the most representative ones.
Andros played an active role in the revolution of 1821. After creation of the New Greek state it marked a substantial growth in the shipping sector. In the beginning of the 20th century ship owners from Andros, founded the “National Steamboats” company, while the first Greek Ocean liner was registered in Andros in 1907. Today the island has approximately 10.000 residents.
The signed network of the island includes 12 routes of paved streets and paths of a total 85 kilometres length. It gives the opportunity to the sightseer of becoming familiar with Andros history and culture, through a unique in diversity natural landscape, where plane trees, eucalyptuses, oaks, and chestnut trees, but also olive trees, citrus trees and vines flourish.
These suggested 12 routes are:
1. Hora-Ypsilou-Mesathouri-Lamyra-Menites-Mesaria-Fallika- Panachrantou monastery.
In Mesathori you will find the Byzantine church Virgin Mary of the 12th/13th century with early Christian Ionian chapiters, and in Mesaria( financial and commercial centre during Byzantine years) one can see the church of Taxiarchis Michail from the 12th century and the Tower of Lorentzos Kairis from the18th century. In the village Aladino, at the foothills of the mountain Gerakona, the cave Foros is found with its impressive stalactite creations, while the monastery of Panachrantou dominates in Fallika. It was founded in the 10th century by the Byzantine emperor Nikiforos Fokas and is the oldest monastery of Andros. The scull of Saint Panteleimonas is kept in the monastery.
2. Vourkoti- Katakalaioi-Apoikia-Hora.
North-east of the village Apoikia lies the monastery of Agios Nikolaos in Sora, since1600, with wooden carved iconostasis and a rich library with ancient codes.
3. Hora-Syneti-Dipotamata -(Apano Kastro) – Kochylou-Bay of Korthi.
The valley of Dipotamata , with paths, pigeon houses, bridges and many watermills, will enchant you (it has been characterized as a protected region).
The Apano Kastro,a Venetian fortress in the plateau north of the bay of Korthi, constituted the largest fortified settlement of the island, with a capacity of1000 people!
4. Aidonia-Korthi-Mosionas-Amonakleio- (Chalkaio) – Piso Meria – Monastery of Tromachia.
The one and only perhaps pre revolution school of the island from 1813, was accommodated at the Agia Triada church In Korthi. The fortified Tromachion monastery of the 18th century-dedicated to Virgin Mary, is found in a splendid landscape with running waters and rich vegetation.
5. Exo Vouni-Mesa Vouni- Giannisaiovouni-Lardia-Rogo- Korthi bay.
6. Vourkoti-Monastery of Agios Nikolaos-Akti Achla.
Near the beach of Achla lies the Byzantine monastery of Saint Nikolaos of the14th century, with marvellous murals and wooden carved iconostasis. In Achla, there is a small lake with aquatic migratory birds.
7. Agia Triada-Zagora-Plaka.
Zagora was one of the most ancient settlements of Andros (10th-8th century B.C.) and the financial and administrative centre of the island in the classical period, until Palaiopoli took its place. The settlement is protected by a powerful wall – one of the best preserved fortifications of the geometric period of the Aegean.
In Apatouria you will admire the stone bridges, the beautiful mansions and the impressive river of Pithara. In Stenies, the village with the captains mansions, you will see the impressive Tower Mpisti-Mouvela, a three storied building of the 17th century, a rare sample of fortified residence in Andros.
9. Aprovatou -Palaiopoli-Melida -Pitrofos-Ano Menites-Strapourgies.
On the hill of the Aprovatou region, ruins of a settlement and a fortified citadel with a temple of the 6th century B.C. were found.
Palaiopoli was the “City of Andros”, the centre of activity of the island from the 7th century B.C. up to the early Byzantine years. Here the impressive statue of Hermis was discovered, which is nowadays exhibited in the Archaeological Museum of Hora. The fortifications of the citadel have been preserved, while relics of an ancient harbour are still visible today,altough sunk under the sea. The Archaeological Museum of Palaiopoli functions in the region.
In Melida, an area with a lot of water and vegetation, one can find the temple of Taxiarchis of the 10th century, with the mural of Virgin Mary (12th century).
Mpatsi, which was an old fishing village in the western coast of Andros, is today the largest tourist centre of the island. The monastery of Zoodochou Pigi of the 14th century is one of the most important sights of the area, where holy utensils and a lot of handwritten codes are kept. The renovated and open for visitors olive press of Lempesis is found in the village Remata on Katakoilo.
12. Arni-Profittis Ilias-Vourkoti.
Andros is rich in local products. Out of the famous local cheeses the most well known are the armexia, the chloro, the manousos and the volaki. The island also produces tasty sausages and other pork titbits, such as choiromourida and sisira, lard or paspala, tsigarida, sisiropita, ziladia or pichti. Choirosfagia in Andros begin in fall and last until the end of winter.
The marzipan cakes with flower water, the kalisounia and the nougat with honey, made with thyme honey from Andros, are among the most famous products of the island. Other local sweets are the pastelaries (made with dry figs and cinnamon), the pastitsakia and the spoon sweets made of lemon buds.
Andros produces fine quality wine and products from the must, such as molasses, moystalevria, “xeri”and soutzoykia. Out of the local drinks you must try the soumada and the potzi (raki with honey).
Apart from the fourtalia, the exceptional Andros cuiisine includes the specialty cheeses of Andros, such as petroti, bolaki and malachto, the tasty smoked sausages and the famous synetiano wine.
Other traditional dishes are the chortokeftedes, the kolokythopoyla (zucchini buds), the massi and the lambriatis (Easter food with different variations from Korthi and Piso Meria). Out of the pies, a typical local recipe is the portokalopitta (orange pie), that is made in New Years day.
The marzipan cakes, the kaltsounia, the local spoon sweets and the marvellous honey of Agios Petros offer a unique tasty delight. If you participate at a local wedding or baptism you must try the traditional soumada, while on Easter try the “lambriati”, lamb stuffed with cheese, eggs, wild greens, dill and spearmint that is cooked in a traditional oven.
Fourtalia of Andros
(Materials: 1 kilo potatoes, 4-5 eggs – a little milk, 4 spoonfuls glyna, 2- 3 local sausages, A bit of spearmint or marjoram, Two spoonfuls of local grinded cheese, Salt, pepper)
Clean the potatoes. Add glyna and sausages in a frying pan and as soon as it melts add the potatoes. Mix them until they soften and bake well. In a deep dish beat eggs and add milk, salt, pepper, grinded cheese, and spearmint or marjoram. Let the eggs to be cooked well from one side and with a large plate in the size of the frying pan, flip the fourtalia, in order that it is also cooked on the other side. Then serve it in a round platter.
Koukofourtalia of Andros
(Materials: 10 eggs, 1 1/2 kilo zucchini, 1 1/2 kilo potatoes, 8 spoonfuls of butter, 1 kilo fresh broad beans, Salt, pepper)
Chop the zucchini and the potatoes and then fry them. Boil broad beans, peel and open them.
Throw some butter in the frying pan and begin by setting the first layer of potatoes, add a layer of broad beans and a layer of zucchini. Add salt on every layer.
Beat the eggs with a little salt and pepper and when butter burns, add them in the frying pan, so as to cover all the layers, as you would do for a simple omelette.
When they are cooked on one side, flip them with a large plate to the other one. This is an appetizing and tasty dish.
(Materials: 600gr. almonds, 4 egg yolks, 1 egg white, 2 1/2 cups of sugar, ½ cup of crushed rusk, Powder sugar, A bit of flower water, Butter)
Put almonds in hot water and then remove their shells. Dry them and crush them well so that they become a pulp.
Mix pulp with the rusk, egg yolks and the egg white and blend them well until all materials become one.
Mould the mix into pear shapes and set them on the side on baking paper.
Butter the baking pan and set the sweets with the baking paper in it.
Cook them in the oven at medium temperatures for 30min. and then remove them from the baking pan. When they cool down, dip them in the flower water, dry them and leave them for a night. The following day, sprinkle them with powder sugar.
In this way they keep soft.
It is a characteristic local spoon sweet. The gathering of the fruit and the production are difficult processes.
(Materials: 1 glass of lemon buds, 2 glasses of sugar – 1 lemon, 1, 5 glasses of water)
Boil the buds, after first having them washed in a saucepan with water until they become soft. Set them in cold water with half a lemon and leave for two hours. Make syrup by boiling water with sugar for five to eight minutes. Dry the lemon buds. Add them in syrup and boil for another five minutes. Finally add the other half of the lemon.
How to Arrive?
Gavrio is connected daily with Rafina by ferry (the travel lasts 2 hours, 1 hour with speedboat).
Direct itineraries are also are executed for Tino, Mykonos, Syros and other islands of the Cyclades.
For more information:
Port Authorities of Rafina: Tel.22490 22300
Port Authorities of Hora: Tel.22820 22250
Gavrio Harbour station Tel. 22820 71213
Mpatsi Harbour Station Tel. 22820 41986
Andros Camping, Gavrio, 845 01 Andros
Winter Tel.: 210-8228549
Owner: Papadopoulos Konstantinos
For more information:
Pan-Hellenic Union of Camping Owners, www.panhellenic-camping-union.gr
Buses connect the main destinations of the island. You can also, use a taxi.
For more information:
Local Buses (KTEL) of Hora: 22820 24288, 22820 22316
TAXI Hora: 22820 62171, Gavrio: 22820 71564, Mpatsi: 22820 41081, Korthi: 22820 62171.
POLICE: 22820 22300
TOURIST POLICE: 22820 41981
PORT AUTHORITY: 22820 22250
MUNICIPAL AUTHORITY: 22820 22275
HEALTH CENTRES: 22820 22222
LOCAL TRANSPORT: 22820 24288
Webcam Andros: http://www.andros.gr/live/index_en.htm
Andros beaches are marvellous and offer a lot of alternative choices for good swimming, diving in magic sea bottoms and effective underwater fishing. One of the most beautiful is the “Pidima tis Grias” in the bay of Korthi with very interesting shapes on the rocks, the beach of Gavrio, the bay Fellos, the Hrisi Ammos, the beaches of Mpatsi, Agia Marina,Palaiopoli, of the bay of Korthi, of Agia Ekaterini and at the coves Kalamonari and Mbouro.
Text and Photos by www.cyclades-tour.gr