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Research project for Andros

- by John Swift

Research project for Andros holiday island.

Anyone who has been on a holiday to Andros island cannot have failed to be impressed by the Greek island's architectural heritage. Along with its near neighbour Tinos, the buildings of Andros island have a special character of their own, from fortress homes to the remarkable dovecotes, for which both islands are famous.

Now a special project has been set up to record the architectural heritage of Andros, a project that will eventually extend to all the islands in the Greek Cyclades group.

The research project by the Cyclades Department of Social Solidarity in collaboration with the Institute of Modern Greek Studies will highlight the architectural heritage of Andros and especially the fortress-type homes known as 'tower houses'.

Andros is not only a popular beach holiday island it is also a popular island for walkers, as seen in this Andros holiday guide. It has long been noted for its interesting and varied architecture, especially the Venetian tower-houses and forts, typical Cycladic architecture, that are scattered all over Andros.

Also of note to researchers are many old Andros watermills and dovecotes. The dovecotes of Andros, in particular, are remarkable structures – some of them as large as houses.

Andros 'tower' houses are massive, plain, three-storey structures built like fortresses both for protection against strong winds and to combat the pirate raids that once plagued the Mediterranean.

One of the best examples is the tower house than survives at Agios Petros. Many of the tower houses have walls that are are incredibly thick and small windows protected by iron grilles. Gun emplacements and fortified main doors show the extreme security measures in some of the houses.

Another type of Andros house are the beautiful mansions built during the late Turkish rule and mostly found in the Andros holiday resort capital town of Chora on the east coast.

Other Andros holiday resort towns like Gavrio, Batsi and Korthi, dating from post Ottoman times, have square houses, with a terracotta tile roofs and large windows overlooking the sea. Walls, door and window frames are painted in various colours, giving to Andros island a unique and attractive architectural style.

Most of the dovecotes of Andros are located in the Korthi region. They are built of thin pieces of slate and covered in geometric shapes decorating the building, forming triangles, squares, diamonds and circles.