Chóra Androu

Evaluation: This short hike through Chóra, the capital of Andros, also introduces you to the Archaeological Museum and the Museum of Contemporary Art. In addition, this hike will make it easier for you to situate the departure points of most of the other hikes. Also the beaches of Nimborió and Parapórti are not too far away. This hike deserves an evaluation of ***. 

Estimated time: It only takes a couple of hours to explore this small town, but the pleasant bars and restaurants will always remain attractive. To visit the museums you should count on half a day.

Route description: Chóra, the capital of Andros, is nicely situated on an elongated cape. This cape leads to a small, rocky island, where used to be the fort or the kástro of this town. In earlier days, Chora was indeed called Kástro or Káto Kástro. Because of the island’s long history of seafaring, Chóra also contains many neoclassical houses of ship-owning families.

Panoramic view over Chóra , nicely situated on a cape.

Perhaps you can start your hike on the square near the large church of Our Blessed Lady, the Panagía tis Kímissis, with its feast-day on the 15th of August. You can see the large church from all over this town, so it is a good point of reference. The street running along this square is the main street of Chora, the Odos Alkibiádou Empiríkou. It is named after one of the members of the famous family of ship-owners Empiríkos. As benefactors, this family has left a lot of traces in Chóra. In the beginning of the 20th century, the Empiríkos family possessed 13% of the total number of steamships in Greece. It was thus one of the most powerful families of ship-owners of the entire country!

When you take a right in this street (facing the church), you get to a less interesting part of Chóra. After a couple of metres, opposite the Alpha-bank, the Odós Stamátis Empiríkou takes a right. Via a staircase of 53 steps you thus arrive at a newly laid out square with a couple of restaurants. A bridge over a small river brings you to the beach of Nimborió. At this bridge you can find the departure points of the hikes in the direction of Apíkia and Vourkotí (no [2]) and in the directions of Ménites, Messariá and the monastery of Panachrántou (no [1]).

If you continue on the main street you get to a large square. Immediately to the left there is a small street leading to the Olga-square, where you can find the bus station and the taxi rank. The post office is situated on the other corner of this square. Continuing along this street you reach the gymnásio (the secondary school). Slightly further down you get to the large Kaïri-library – this is an impressive library in a neoclassical building. Theófilos Kaïris (1784 - 1853), a famous philosopher and teacher, is another well-known descendant of the island of Andros.
If you take a right, via the Odós Geórgios Empiríkos, before the gymnásio, you can also find the beginning of the hike no [1].

You return now and you walk past the main church, entering the most interesting part of Chóra. There are more shops, zarachoplastía (pastry shops) and bars and you thus get to the Kaïri-square, the very pleasant centre of the city. On the left you see the modern building of the Archaeological Museum, built in 1981 with the support of the Goulándris-foundation.

The Archaeological Museum and the Kambani-fountain.

Thanks to Vasílis and Elíza Goulándris the famous museum of Cycladic Art in Athens was established, but they have also been very significant for Andros, the native island of Vasílis. The museum contains an interesting collection – some beautiful gravestones and especially the Hermes of Andros are striking. This statue was found in Paleópolis in the 19th century. It is probably a Roman copy from the 2nd or the 1st century BC of the famous Hermes of Praxiteles, to be visited in the museum of Olympía.

The Hermes of Andros.

Off season, the museum is only open on Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays from 10am to 2pm. During summer, it is open every day, except on Tuesdays, from 10am to 2pm.

The small marble building in front of the museum is a fountain, built under Turkish occupation in 1818.

The street immediately off the left, the Odós Goulándri, leads down to the two buildings of the Museum of Contemporary Art. This museum was established in 1979 to hold the collection of modern art of the Goulándris-foundation. The museum has become famous because every year it organizes exhibitions devoted to modern artists such as Picasso, Matisse, Kandinsky, Giacometti, Klee, Rodin, Moore, etc.
In the permanent collection you can mainly find Greek artists. The opening hours are the same as the ones of the Archaeological Museum.

Some nice outdoor terraces such as the ones of the pastry shop Ermis, of café Plátanos (underneath the beautiful tree) and of tavern I Paréa turn this square into a very enjoyable place.

On the other side of the square you can go down the long staircase - 135 steps - to the beach of Parapórti. On the left of the staircase you see the large church of the Panagía tis Theosképastis. At this staircase you can find the departures of the hike in the direction of Sinetí and Kórthi (hike no. [3]) and of the alternative hike to the Panachrántou-monastery via Livádia.

The staircase to the beach of Parapórti.

Continuing on the main street, you enter the oldest part of the city via the vault of the old gate, the Kamára or Pórta.

At this point, the street is bordered with stately houses, which used to be inhabited by wealthy ship-owners. We thus pass the house of Dimítrios Moráïtis, who was the founder of the “Transatlantic Greek Steam company”. 

The main street of Chóra, the Odós Alkibiádi Empiríkou.

The main street zigzags for a short while and it then gets to the large square, devoted to the Unknown Seafarer. The large statue is made by the Andriotic sculptor Michális Tombrós, whose work can also be seen at the museum. The house of the Empiríkos family used to be on the location of this square. However, due to the heavy German bombardments of 1943 it burnt down. The family then donated the ground to the city council. On this square you can also find the interesting Seafaring Museum.

The monument of the Unknown Seafarer.

On the rocky island at the end of the peninsula where Chóra is situated, a castle was built by the Venetian Marino Dandalo in 1207. For a long time, the kástro was in good condition, but it was almost entirely destroyed by the 1943 bombardment; only the bridge (the "Kamára"), linking the island to the mainland, remained.

The remains of the Venetian kástro.

The beaches of Nimborió and Parapórti surround the cape where Chóra is built. From the first beach you definitely have the most beautiful view on Chóra. Along the road running next to the beach there are some shops, bars and B&Bs – it can be fairly busy here in summer time. The beach itself is very nice for children, since the sea gets deeper only gradually.

This is not the case at the beach of Parapórti-strand, but the advantage of this beach is that there are no buildings behind the beach.


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