Journey in history

The archaeological findings certify the existence of a human settlement since the 4th millennium BC in the organized settlements of Strofilla in the west, and of Mikrogiali in the northeast of the island. The settlement of Plaka with its natural fortification dates back to the 3000-1600 BC. Fortified settlements of the Mycenaean period have been identified in Agios Nikolaos, Paleopolis and Korthi. During the Geometric period Andros was a bridge between the Greek mainland and the islands, with fortified settlements on the west coast of the island Zagora and Ipsili Aprovatos. From the Archaic years to the Hellenistic period, Paleopolis with its citadel and its main city became the political centre of the island. The findings show that life in Paleopolis continued until the 5thcentury AD. The Hermes of Andros, a copy of the Hermes of Praxiteles dating back to the Hellenistic period, was found there.

Andros around 650 BC founded colonies on the coasts of Chalkidiki and on Strymonikos bay. These were Acanthus, Sani, Argillos and Stagiros, the famous birthplace of Aristotle. According to Herodotus, the Andriots, the local population, together with the other islanders gave “land and water”to the Persians of Darius. After the naval battle of Salamis (480 BC) Themistocles came to the island with the Athenian fleet demanding money from the Andriots. When they refused, he told them that he had two great gods on his side: “Persuasion” and “Violence”.The residents of Andros responded that their small island has on its side two mean gods that never leave the island, “Poverty” and “Want of resource”. Themistocles, confronted with the stubborn denial and resistance ofthe residents of Andros, was forced to leave empty handed.

Although the relations between Athens and Andros were always tense, the island participated in 476 BC in the Delian League and fought on the side of the Athenians during the Peloponnesian War. In 450 BC Andros initially paid a tax of 12 talents and later of 15. In 444 BC, 250 Athenian allottees settled on the island. When during the Peloponnesian War (409-408 BC) Andros defected from the Athenians and sided with the Spartans, the island became the target of an unsuccessful attack of Alcibiades with 100 ships, 1,500 hoplites and 150 horsemen. The dominance of Sparta on the island ended in 393 BC when Conon and Pharnabazos crushed the Spartan fleet at Cnidos in Asia Minor.

After the battle of Chaeronea (338 BC), the island came under the dominance of the Macedonians and during the reign of the successors of Alexander the Great it became part of the kingdom of the Ptolemies of Egypt. In 199 BC, after an attack, Andros surrendered to the Romans who had joined the fleet of the king of Pergamon, Attalos. After the looting of the island by invaders, the residents were forced to expatriate and flee to Delion, currently known as Dilesi in Boeotia. They returned later in deplorable conditions, when the island was given to the kings of Pergamon. In 133 BC the last king Attalos III bequeathed the island to Rome.

At the time of Constantine the Great, Andros was part of the Province of the Islands, of which Rhodes was the capital, and it was under the administration of Asia. During the 6th century it belonged to the Theme of the Aegean Sea that included the Cyclades, the Sporades, Mytilene, Lemnos,Chios, and had Samos as its capital. The discovery of early Christian basilicas with mosaics in Paleopolis shows the flourishing of the island on the trading routes between the Greek mainland and the Greek islands. After the conquest of Crete by the Arabs (826), Andros seems to have lived the terror of the pirate attacks of the Saracens. Andros particularly flourished during the 11th -12th century when the silk manufacturing developed on the island. The fabrics produced on the island were known by the name “examita” (xamita) and “zendata” and they were gossamer silk fabrics, very popular and prestigious in the markets of the West.

In 1207 with the foundation of the Duchy of the Aegean by Marco Sanudo, Andros was ceded to Marino Dandolo, namesake nephew of the Doge of Venice with the obligation to pay tribute. After his death, Andros went to the hands of Angelo Sanudo. He gave half of the barony to the widow of Dandolo Ieliza, and the other half to Jeremiah Gizi, who thanks to his cunningness soon became master of the whole island. After the feudal lord of Astypalaia, Jacob Quirini, unsuccessfully claimed the dominion of Andros, it ended up in the hands of Marco II Sanudo. In 1384 it was ceded by the Duke of Naxos, Francesco Crispo, to his brother-in-law Peter Zeno. The dominion of his family ended in 1437, when the Venice occupied the island and established commissioners. Later on, the turn of the house of Sommaripa to govern came in a period of looting and enslavement of the people by the Turkish fleet.

During the Rule of the Franks, Arvanites from the neighbouring Karystos settled in Andros. Their settlement dates back to the 15thcentury, and it was favoured by the feudal lords of the island in the northern regions in Gavrio in Arni and in Vourkoti which were sparsely populated at the time.

In 1537 the island surrendered without a fight to Hayreddin Barbarossa and after a short period of subjugated occupation by the Sommaripa, it was ceded between 1566-1579 to the Jew Joseph Nasi, who had the title of “Duke of Naxos and Lord of Andros”. Later on, Andros administratively became a “sancak” head of which was a Turk or Christian Bey. In the mid- 18th century Andros was ceded as a “malikanes” to Valide Sultana (mother ofthe reigning sultan) and later in 1778 to the sister of Selim III Shah, Sultana. Generally during the Ottoman rule various privileges that strengthened the institution of self-government were granted to Andros.

During the Ottoman occupation a class of lords who succeeded the old Frankish feudal families was formed. This classhad a big land ownership and itexclusively held public offices such as that of Kantzillieris and that of Syndikos. On the other hand, there was the class of the poor serf farmers together with seamen (gemitzides) and merchants who lived in Kato Kastro.

On the 10th May 1821, Theophilos Kairis raised the flag of the Revolution. The locals offered many services to the Struggle, participating in battles in Karystos and Tripolitsa under the leadership of Dimitrios Giannoulis. The unofficial military groups of Gkriziotis and Vassos found shelter and care on the island. The military corps led by the French philhellene Charles Favier also came here after the unsuccessful campaign in Karystos.

The development of merchant shipping from the late 19th century until the early 20thcentury became a factor for great wealth for Andros, which held the second position after Piraeus in number and capacity of vessels. Many locals were distinguished as masters and engineers in Greek merchant shipping. The first Greek ocean liner belonged to the «Transoceanic Greek Steam Navigation» which was founded in 1907 with funds of shipowners from Andros.