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Andros – an amazing

Landscape


Different & unique

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The whole island is a paradise for walkers

Andros Island is a completely different and unique island waiting to be explored. It offers unforgettable moments of pleasure with its high and craggy mountains, deep green and fertile valleys, the water falls, rivers, fountains, plateaus, terraced farmlands, slopes filled with fig trees, olive trees, capers, wild flowers as well as the sandy beaches with the crystal clear waters, all together make it the ideal place for relaxing and enjoyable vacations.

Andros differs from the rest of the Cyclades islands due to its diverse natural environment, its frequent and heavy rains and its rivers, streams, and springs like the well-known Sariza Spring.  The Vitali cove that can be found in the northern part of the island, as well as the central bay have been identified as “Sites of Community Importance” (SCI) and are listed in the Natura 2000 Network of European Ecologically Important Areas.

It is indeed a landscape of great natural beauty and ecological value, with canyons and springs and the highest mountain peak, Mount Petalo (997 meters height) that can be found at the Aegean Archipelagos.  

Its coastline is generally rocky with many protected bays, such as Mikrogiali, Kastro, Melissa, Gavrio, Plaka, Vitali and more. The geography of Andros is characterized by its rich diversity. Small rocky islets surround the island. Capes, mountainous sections, hills, valleys, ravines and streams are completing the aspect of Andros landscape, hosting interesting monuments that depict the long history of the island. Another characteristic of Andros island is the abundance and high quality of its surface waters, being the richest (in waters) of the Cyclades.

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Andros geological history

The blueschists of Andros Island consist of a probable Permian-Eocene metasedimentary rock succession (meta-sandstone, marble, chert), containing large bodies of magmatic rock (serpentinized ultra-mafic rocks, gabbros and granodiorite). The development of a layerparallel foliation and axial plane cleavage, followed by two phases of intense deformation with recumbent folding, almost completely obliterated the primary bedding and stratigraphic relations in the metamorphic complex. The main features of the geological evolution of Andros, that is, the original environment of deposition and the character and direction of tectonic transport, have been hitherto unclear because of this deformation. The present sedimentological and structural study has led to the discovery of preserved relics of primary sedimentary structures, including graded bedding and chaotic sedimentary breccias. Associated turbidite and olistostromic formations can be recognized at three stratigraphic levels in the Andros Island’s reconstructed column. Some layers of the metasedimentary rocks, having preserved clear signs of the layer’s top and bottom, were also used for the identification of the primary anticlines and synclines among widespread developed recumbent folds. This study has shown that the structural style of the last synmetamorphic recumbent folds with northwest vergence is the same, independent of the direction of the present axial plane dips. This data can be interpreted as a result of monovergent tectonic transport in the last metamorphic event. The analysis of structural relations between primary bedding and first synmetamorphic foliation proves that most of the stratigraphic succession has been preserved in a normal stratigraphic position after the first blueschist and before the second greenschist deformation stage.

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The climate is mild, characterised by the prevalence of north winds, a significant percentage of rainfall during the winter months and dry and warm summers with cool winds, the so called ‘meltemia’. A comfortable hike is possible in all months except July and August. In these months with temperatures around 25 to 35 degrees Celsius, and sometimes higher, it can be a little too hot for most people to enjoy a long hike. However in the summer when the moon is full, or close to full, night hikes are possible.

Architecture in Andros island doesn’t follow the strict rules of the traditional Cycladic patterns. Typical Aegean-type houses co-exist with neoclassical buildings, Venetian towerhouses and stone-houses. Common types of houses found in Andros are “makrynari”, various types of towers and tower-houses, farm-houses and typical mansions of navy captains and merchants. Other interesting buildings with special elements are “konakia”, small farm houses, springs with characteristic “bousounari” or with a roof, water-mills and pigeon-houses (peristeriones). Characteristic elements of andriotic architecture are the visible slate stonework, “sardeloma” (outer plaster), “kanalos” (gutter), “stimata” (vertical slates) in stonewalls, etc.

Many stone bridges are intact in various places of the island. Made of schist, simple and in harmony with the landscape, served as part of the old transport network. In the beginning of the 20th century there were approximately 150 water-mills functioning in Andros island. A few dozen of them are preserved in good shape in “Dipotamata”, a valley starting from Gianisaio and ending to Syneti bay. This valley is declared a protected area and the buildings within protected monuments of the pre-industrial period. A similar network of water-mills exists in “Frouseoi”, near Amolochos, while isolated ones are scattered in other parts of the island as well. There are also wind-mills in the island and among them a very rare type, having a horizontal wheel. One of them is in good state near Piskopeio.

The special rural architecture completes the unique character of Andros. “Xerolithies” (dry stone-walls) are an integral element of Andros’ cultural heritage. “Xerolithia” is a masonry wall construction technique, where each stone is placed next to or on top of the other, using wedges as connecting material. They are admirable not only for their wild beauty but also for the man’s ability to battle the forces of nature and transform the wild mountain slopes into arable lands through a natural use of the surrounding environment. Keeping nature’s harmony in mind and using the local stone as tool, Andros’ builders created “emasies” or “pezoules” (lit. terraced plots). Using the same kind of stone they also constructed threshing floors, wells, lodgings for people and animals, cobbled streets, fencing walls, water mills, horizontal mills, bridges etc., everything in the same color, matching the environment. It is impressive how much hand work was demanded to complete these pieces of art.


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