An introduction to Andros Island
Andros Island is the most verdant island in the Cyclades and that’s probably because it is situated so close to the mainland. In fact, Andros is only about an hour and a half away from Pireaus port. The island has a unique appeal, traditional and cultural, with a strong artistic community and cultural activity. The architecture is rich and varied, with both Venetian and Cycladic influences, making it a most picturesque escape from mainland Greece.
Before Andros , it was known as Gavros. In fact, it was also known at various times by the names of Hydroussa, Epagris, and Lasia. Inhabited since the distant past, early inhabitants included the Carians, Pelasgians, Phoenicians, Cretans, and the Ionians. The island was especially prosperous during the classical years, as archaeological findings reveal. Like the other Aegean islands, Andros Island fell under Roman, Venetian and Ottoman rule.
Today, Andros is a cultural centre boasting an excellent Archaeological Museum, a Modern Art museum, a Nautical Museum and a Folklore Museum. The collections housed here are extensive and of major historical significance and must be seen. Andros Island is very much a modern island with a strong cultural and artistic community. The architecture reveals its rich and varied foreign influences.
The ruins of a Venetian castle are certainly a highlight on the island, as is the lighthouse. There are also numerous watermills and fountains. Also, as with other islands in the region, there are numerous churches and monasteries that show off the Byzantine architectural heritage of the island. These include the Monastery of Agios Nikolaos Neos, the Monastery of Tromarchion, the Monastery of Panachrantos or Agios Panteleimon and the Zoodochos Pigi Monastery or Agias Convent.
Andros Island is popular as much for its art galleries and folkloric museums as it is for its endless, sandy beaches, which boast excellent tourist facilities but are unspoilt and idyllic at the same time. It is easy to escape the crowds on Andros as there are many quiet beaches hidden in coves scattered around the coastline.
In fact, Andros Island boasts over 300 beaches, some quiet and hidden, others busy and social. Some are pebbly, others are sandy. But all have crystal clear waters and are perfect for diving and snorkelling or just for a decadent escape and relaxation. The best of the lot are Agios Petros, Batsi, Kipri and Ormos.
After the sun has gone down the social activity hits the numerous bars and clubs in the islands central town, called Hora. But the social life is not an intense as on other Cycladic islands, such as Santorini and Mykonos. Andros has a rich night-life, which remains social and engaging until darn, but is not as touristy and wild as on other islands. As such, Andros Island offers a visitor much needed opportunities for socialising, but the main focus is the cultural aspect, which is abundant.
Before you leave the island of Andros, do visit the old and traditional fishing village of Gavrio, the springs at the village of Menites, and the major resort village of Batsi.