(1900 Times Atlas of the World)
1204: Andro is assigned to several Venetian families (Dandolo, Ghisi, Zeno) under the tutelage of the Duchy of the Archipelago, established by Marco Sanudo in Nasso.
1440: Andro is acquired by Domenico Sommaripa (or Sommariva): his family will rule the island until 1566.
1537: Hayreddin Barbarossa, corsair and Ottoman admiral, seizes Andro, but it is returned to the Sommaripa who accept the tutelage of the Sultan
View of the town
The town is highly picturesque: old houses of all colours
are built on a narrow rock which juts out into the sea,
and on an island rock connected with this tongue of
land by a fantastic bridge stands the mediaeval castle, all
now in ruins. Behind this town stretches inland one of
the most fertile valleys in the world, and the slopes of
the mountains are dotted with villages peeping out of
cypress and lemon groves. Andros, in fact, is the best
wooded of the Cyclades, and second only to Naxos in
size and beauty.
James Theodore Bent - The Cyclades - 1885
The main town (Andro or Chora) is located on the eastern coast of the island on a low ridge which separates two bays. The Venetians fortified the small town with walls and towers, but the strongest point of their fortification system was the Castelo da Mar (Sea Castle), a castle built on an islet at the end of the ridge.
Ruins of the Venetian sea castle and of a remaining tower of the walls surrounding the
town; the arch leading to the castle is shown in the image used as background for this page
Andros became Venetian property as far back as 1204, when Marco Dandolo took it, and then the well known Zeno family had it for generations as a fief, the heiress of whom brought it as a dower to the Sommaripas. The Andriotes themselves turned out their last ruler of this family, and gave themselves voluntarily to the Turks. Some of the Sommaripas still live at Naxos. (..) A narrow street leads down to the bridge, one lofty span now crumbling into ruins, which leads you to the island where the Venetian lords of Andros lived. It is built of a greenish stone, much eaten away by the action of the waves, which in a storm lash themselves to fury around it. Bent
The ruins of the XIIIth century bridge which linked the sea castle with the town are rather picturesque and provide those who have climbing skills with an opportunity to reach the surviving tower of the sea castle.
In 1566 the inhabitants of Andro, realizing that their rulers were unable to effectively protect them, drove out the last Baron, Giovanni Francesco Sommaripa. They voluntarily surrendered to the Ottomans; they were granted a sort of self-government in return for a yearly payment.
(left) Gate of the old town; (right) Catholic church and 1749 inscription celebrating its restoration
We took a stroll round the town soon after our arrival, and were pleased with all we saw. The old town on the tongue of rock is entered by a gateway. Bent
In the late XVIIIth century Andro became a leading centre of the Greek merchant navy. This development occurred also in nearby Tino and Micono. Andro accounts for some of the most important families of Greek ship-owners. With the gains of their trading activity or just with the salary earned as seamen, the inhabitants of Andro enlarged and embellished their old medieval town. They retained however the Venetian gate facing the sea castle and a few of them retained also the Roman Catholic faith their ancestors had embraced during the Venetian rule.
The houses are pretty, having more woodwork about them than is common in these islands; red-tiled roofs are rather a relief after perpetual flat ones. (..) The household jams of Andros are really exquisite; jams of lemon flower and roses, jams of citrons and quinces; and the honey cakes of Andros are things to dream of; they are made of honey mixed with walnuts and served up on lemon-leaves. Such delicacies as these are commonly reserved for feast days. Bent
While the western coast of the island, which faces the Attic peninsula, has several tourist resorts, the eastern coast and chiefly the town of Andro seem to turn their back on today's holidaymakers. The inhabitants of Andro keep for themselves the clean streets, the elegant houses and the many small churches of their cosy town. In the short main street several pastry shops still sell the full array of the traditional honey-based Greek sweets.
Church at the harbour and its modern lighthouse
Ships no longer moor in the harbour of Andro. Ferries go back and forth from the port of Rafina on the eastern coast of Attica to Gavrio, a small town in a well protected bay on the north-western coast of the island. The harbour of Andro was protected by a rock: the church built upon it is maybe dedicated to the sea as its name Aghia Thalassini suggests (thalassa=sea). The sea castle is visible behind the church and beyond it there is a modern lighthouse built on a small rock.
Our host lived
in a very large tower, approached by an imposing flight
of steps, from which we entered directly into a fine
room, where the family receive; above are bedrooms; and above
that the dovecote; on the ground floor were the offices
and stables: such is an Andriote tower. Bent
A distinctive mark which Andro shares with Tino is the number of decorated dovecots in some parts of the island.
Introductory page on the Venetian Fortresses in Greece
List of the fortresses
|Geographic area||Location||Ionian Islands||Corfų (Kerkyra) Paxo (Paxi) Santa Maura (Lefkadas) Cefalonia (Kephallonia) Asso (Assos) Itaca (Ithaki) Zante (Zachintos) Cerigo (Kythera)||Greek Mainland||Butrinto (Butrint) Parga Preveza and Azio (Aktion) Vonizza (Vonitsa) Lepanto (Nafpaktos) Atene (Athens)||Peloponnese (Morea)||Castel di Morea (Rio), Castel di Rumelia (Antirio) and Patrasso (Patra) Castel Tornese (Hlemoutsi) and Glarenza Navarino (Pilo) and Calamata Modon (Methoni) Corone (Koroni) Braccio di Maina, Zarnata, Passavā and Chielefā Mistrā Corinto (Korinthos) Argo (Argos) Napoli di Romania (Nafplio) Malvasia (Monemvassia)||Aegean Islands||Negroponte (Chalki) Castelrosso (Karistos) Oreo Lemno (Limnos) Schiatto (Skiathos) Scopello (Skopelos) Alonisso Schiro (Skyros) Andro (Andros) Tino (Tinos) Micono (Mykonos) Siro (Syros) Egina (Aegina) Spezzia (Spetse) Paris (Paros) Antiparis (Andiparos) Nasso (Naxos) Serifo (Serifos) Sifno (Syphnos) Milo (Milos) Argentiera (Kimolos) Santorino (Thira) Folegandro (Folegandros) Stampalia (Astipalea)||Crete||Grambusa (Granvousa) Castello (Kasteli/Kissamos) La Canea (Xania) Souda Candia (Iraklion) Rettimo (Rethymno) Spinalonga and Castel Mirabello Castles on the southern coast Sittia and Paleocastro|
You may refresh your knowledge of the history of Venice in the Levant by reading an abstract from
the History of Venice by Thomas Salmon, published in 1754. The Italian text is accompanied by an English summary.