Andros is the closest
island of the Cyclades to Euboia (or Evia), at a distance of only 7 nautical miles.
It is also the second largest and northern most of the Cyclades. It has 380 sq. km. of
land mass and 177 km of coast line. Ferry boats take about 2 hours
to reach the island. There are 2 to 5 ferry boats a day. Hydrofoils take a little over an hour. Andros is accessible
by ferry boat and hydrofoil from Rafina, a short bus ride north from
Athens. Gavrio is the main port of Andros. From
Gavrio, 7 buses a day connect (1 hr drive) to the main towns of Andros
and Batsi, the islands main resort.
Andros is neat and prosperous with traditional Greek charm. There are wild mountains, elegant towns, and beaches galore.
The island has a split personality. The northern side is barren and rocky. The south side is lush and green. The terrain is mountainous, with ravines and 3 verdant valleys with
streams. There are over 200 beaches and many secluded spots, mostly on the south side of the island. The sandy beaches
are on the south of the island. Many beaches have watersport facilities.
If all those beaches aren't enough, there are theraputic spings, picturesque villages, lovely scenery and historic monuments on Andros, all adding up to a holiday with something for everyone.
are three main areas to stay in Andros with several smaller villages to
choose from as well.
Batsi is the island's main resort and
on the sea. Andros Town is on a narrow peninsula
on the east coast and is quite striking. Gavrio
is the port and quietest vacation spot.
The island of Andros has long been a favorite
spot for wealthy Greek shipping magnates who breed horses on their private
estates. It's also a popular destination for package tours. Most tourists enjoy patronizing
its trendy bars, discos and fashionable boutiques.
Nimborio and Paraporti Bays at Hora are suitable for swimming as is
Gavrio's beach. Batsi has the nicest beach but Koritho on the islands
SE tip and Vitali in the NW are pleasant too.
The red soil of the bare northern part of the island give it a reddish-brown glow at sunset. You may see long-haired goats and eagles there, too.
The farmers divided their plots of land with carefully built stone walls. The walls are unique because of triangular slates which were built into the designs.
This island's capitol
is Andros Town (Chora) with a population of over 9,000. Andros has pristine white houses, archways and churches. At Mesa Kastro, on a tiny peninsula just outside Andros Town, parts of the Venetian ramparts, towers and bridges can still be seen.
Town owes its wealth to shipping. The neo-classical mansions
which line the narrow spit of land upon which it rests testify to this
rich heritage. Between the two world wars Andrians owned fully one-fifth of all
Greek merchant ships.
What's different about Andros is the rare sense of public spiritedness
these wealthy inhabitants possessed. You can see evidence of this around Andros Town. The statue of the
Unknown Sailor who guards the ruins of the Venetian Castle in Platea
Riva. Close by is the stone arch which is all that remains of
the bridge to the Castle Mesa Kastro, which was
damaged in WWII by bombs.
In Andros Town, there is a small maritime museum representing Andros
involvement in shipping. There's an archaeological museum with finds from all eras and art by the sculptor Tobros. The Archeology Museum (open
Tues-Sun, 8:30-3, fee) houses the Hermes Psychomorphos or Conductor of the Dead.
On the way back to the center of town from the Mesa Kastro is Panagia Theoskepasti, a chuch dedicated to the Virgin Mary. The roof for the church was delivered under miraculous circumstances involving prayers to the Virgin and a convenient storm at sea which was calmed in answer to the prayers. The church is therefore known as Theoskepasti, meaning sheltered by God.
Riva District, where many mansions may be seen, and Andros' central
square called Platea Kairis have steps leading
down to Kato Kastro, the labyrinth of streets that form the medieval
city. These are wedged between the two Bays of Paraporti and Emborios
where sandy but windy beaches, bungalows and pensions exist. Just to
the north of Platea Karis is the Archeology Museum.
You'll find a Modern Art Museum in Andros Town, just north of the main square. There are modern scultptures by Greek artists such as Tombros, Bouzianis and Manolidis as well as international artists such as Braque. Entrance is free. The Museum of Modern Art was endowed
by the Goulandris Family Foundation (open Wed-Mon, 10-2 & 6-9, T:22490).
In the center
of town are the banks, OTE (telephone) and post offices and the main
street is a marble-paved people-only walkway over which wafts the smells
of local bakery and pastry shops. The bus station is also nearby.
one end of Emborios harbor, Aghia Thalassini Church guards the
entrance. And in town the Cathedral Aghios Georgos is built
on the ruins of a 17th Century church.
South of Andros Town
Hora the villages of Lamyra,
Strapouries and Ypsila are picturesque with
well tended gardens and hospitable good character.
is among the loveliest villages on the island and boasts the remains of a ruined tower
and its Church of the Madonna of Koumoulos. A bit further on the
cultural center of the island during the 18th and 19th century was Mesaria
with its Kairis family tower and the Church of the Taxiarchs built circa
Still further South the Monastery of Panachrantos was founded
in 961 at Fallika after the liberation of Crete.
More to the southeast of Andros Town is the village of Livadia, which has a Frankish church.
In the mountains 12km southwest of Andros Town is the spectacular monastery Moni Panachrantou (open daily). It a steep walk from either Mesaria or Andros Town to this monastery overlooking the valley. Founded in 961, the Byzantine style building today houses just three monks. There are many treasures in the church, including the skull of Agios Panteleimon, which is believed to have healing powers. This holy relic is brings flocks of visitors to the monastery on the saint's annual festival day.
North of Andros Town
northeast of Andreos Town in Apoikia are the Sariza Therapeutic
Springs. You can taste the waters at the spring. North of the spring is the 18th century Monastery of St. Nikolaos.
Stenies is another attractive village to the north
of Apoikia and has handsome houses belonging to sea captains and sailors.
Head southwest of Andros Town for 18km to find the rocky plateau and the ruined Venetian Palaiokastro. It was built between 1207 and 1233 and is called the Castle of the Old Woman. The name arose after a woman betrayed the Venetians to the Turks in the 16th Century by tricking her way into the castle and opening the gates for the Turks. She was appalled by the bloody massacre that resulted and leaped off a cliff in remorse. The rock from which she jumped is Tis Grias to Pidima, or Old Lady's Leap. The famous rock is near Korthio.
Gavrion, the main port
Gavrion (or Gavrio), where all
ferries dock, on the NW corner of the island is 34 km from Andros Town. Long
a windblown little port, it is seeing better times with the addition
of new paving stones, flower beds and other public works. Gavrion is in the process of turning its beach, rooms, pensions, bars and restaurants into an alternative
during high season, when most of the rest of the island is fully booked.
Gavrion and the Surrounding Area
Gavrion is the main port, the ferry quay, and is located on the northwest coast. It's a 40 minute walk up to the Pyrgos Ag. Petros, the best preserved monument on Andros. The tower stands 70 feet high, with an inner wall still bearing a corbelled dome. The tower may have been a watchtower, but its actual purpose is lost to history. The upper reaches of the tower were reached by footholds and an internal ladder.
Even further North another
medieval garrison tower is preserved at Makrotalanto. And North of that
the villages of Kalyvari and Varidi are overlooked by the remains of
Fortress Vrikokastro. Upper and Lower Felos Villages have two notable
churches; The Church of the Transfiguration and Aghios Haralambos.
There are good beaches north of Gavrion at Fellos beach and beyond the nearby village of Verasmia.
Batsi Area and Resort
around a wide bay Batsi has a little fishing harbor and small village
with many labyrinthine streets. Batsi is 6km south of the port at Gavrion. A tranquil setting unusual for the rugged Andros distinguishes Batsi.
A family-style resort, the beach at Batsi fills
up quite quickly during season. Those requiring less in the way of
bathing accoutrements head down the coast a bit to Delavoyas
Beach. A path ascends fro Batsi to the garden-like village of Arnas on the slopes of Andros highest peak Mt.
was the original ancient capital of Andros and lies 10
km down the coast from Batsi. It was destroyed by earthquake. Its
partially submerged ruins may be seen including its walls, parts of
the acropolis and buildings and temples. A steep path of 1040 steps
leads up to modern Palaiopolis and the road continues on to Hora through
a rolling landscape interspersed with dovecotes and the remains of Venetian
and Byzantine habitations.
Dovecotes dot the entire island, and are one of interesting features of Andros. They were first built by the Venetians.
Drinking and Dining
There are good eateries in Andros Town, Gavrion, Batsi, Apikia, and Kothion. At night you can find bars and discos running full steam ahead.
Inhabited first by the Ionians in 1000 BC, Andros has been populated ever since. In the 5th Century BC, Andros sided with Sparta during the Peloponnesian War. The Venetians ruled it later, and the Turks took power in 1522, ruling until the War of Independence.
In modern times, Andros has become the holiday haunt of wealthy Athenian families.