Andros Chora, a true gem in Cyclades and an ultimate cycling destination
The capital of Andros island
The capital of Andros island
Chora is the capital city of the island Andros. During the period othe the Venetian Empire, the location which now is called Chora, was selected to be one of the three main parts of the island's colony. Its name was Emporium Castle. The morphology of the landscape and the strong Nortthern winds, offered natural fortification to the Emporium Castle. This narrow, rocky strip of land between two fertile valleys, functioned as a form of defence, and, profoundly, was selected by the Venetian Lords as the ideal location to build their Castle. It was set to play a significant role on the commercial activities of the island, since it was the only castle that had access to sea.
It is a fascinating fact that the old paths, with which all the Castles were connected, are still in a very condition and are used by a number of hikers every year, who decide to spend their vacation on the island. Many MTB bikers also use those trails, even though a few parts are quiet challenging ad steep.
The perplexed architecture of the town combines artistic elements of various periods. The Neoclassical Rhythm signifies the affluence of shipowners and marine people and triggers the interest of every visitor.
The rich shipping tradition is an element that cyclists can see almost everywhere on the island. The majority of the locals are somehow related to a ex captain or a mechanic, who used to sail on commercial ships. The shipping story of Andros starts at the beginning of the 18th century, with many of the residents to own mainly small sailing boats, used to connect the trade lines with in the Aegean and the Black Sea. Back then, there was no mobile reception, no diesel engines no GPS signal, which makes trading and transferring goods from one port to the other to require skills and experience.
After the Greek revolution, 1821, the seamen from Andros, who have acquired an exceptional knowledge of the trade lines by sailing overseas, worked together and build larger capacity sailing vessels. That period was also the first where the scheme of share holding of vessels, a partnership, was put in practice, giving the change to many seamen to raise the funds to build vessels and, later, to operate them. That introduced a great dynamic within the local community of Andros, since access to funding was more convenient than before, resulting in almost everyone on the island to be fully engaged activities related to shipping. The end of the century, finds Andros' habitants to be extremely wealthy with a strong middle class and a strong political influence; many ex captains and esteemed shipowners are elected as mayors.
Around early 1900s and as the first steam-powered vessels were introduced to the shipping industry, the sailing cargo trade lines, were slowly reaching their end of their life. The new boats were faster, more reliable and could carry significantly more cargo that their wind powered ancestors. Shipping community of Andros, saw the opportunity and grasping the momentum of the existing wealth, they were the first ones to enter the market of the steam powered shipping. Later on many of the shipowners had to open offices in Athens, London and New York, to driver their businesses higher. During the booming period of shipping in Andros, Chora, was the main port of registry and, as per many sources, it has outbidded Piraeus, the main port of Greece, in the number of new built vessels registered.
The need for capacity proved the strategic position of Andros vessels to be quite successful, bringing the island at a totally new level wealth and prosperity, something which avidly reflected on the capital of Andros, Chora, small alleys.
Today, Chora is the island's main retail hub and a popular touristic destination, with several cafes, restaurants and bars, particularly busy during the high summer season.
Yes, do not think it twice!
Even if you are visiting the island just for one day and you want to enjoy your cycling hours, stopping at this stunningly beautiful spot on the island is imperative. We strongly recommend to allow yourself time to visit the town and walk all the way to the edge of this stipe of land towards the Emporio castle. If the weather is not windy, jumping into the refreshing, blue waters is what will make your visit complete.
Do not skip to enjoy a coffee and a locally made sweet right at the square.
Note: the all the roads in Andros Chora are closed from vehicle circulation. You can still cycle with your bike, but be extra cautious and keep your speed to the minimum, giving you the chance to witness the town's beautiful aesthetics.