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Virtual Tour Vol. 4

Covid-19 days : We wish you and your loved ones all the best, in the hope that our post finds you healthy and at home! #stayhome #staysafe . We go exploring the dry stone walls of Andros


Connected in the minds of most when we imagine the Cyclades, are the dry stone walls and their most humble constructions with multifaceted value, giving the dry rural landscape an imposing relief.
Their wild beauty creates admiration of how man managed to fight against the forces of nature and transform the barren slopes into arable land through a rational use of the environment to his advantage. The “Kserolithies” literally meaning “dry stones” are an integral part of our cultural heritage. Perfectly connected to the Aegean landscape.
Dry stone walling is the way of tying the stones (stonework) without the use of any kind of mortar or any other material. Irregular stones are placed next to or on top of each other, thus developing friction on their rough surface.

The Andros stone walls have a unique building style: the horizontal building line of stones is interrupted by large slabs which are fully integrated into the wall and often protrude above it. This interesting feature of the stone walls of Andros is called “stimata “(plural). Large stone slabs placed vertically into the soil, supporting the wall like columns. Smaller stones were then placed around it “wedging” the wall until the next “stima “(single). This is a highly durable way of construction. So in harmony with nature and stones as the main material, the “aimasies” or “pezoules” (terraces) were built, as well as the stone huts, shelters for people and animals, roads, walls, water mills, windmills, bridges, etc. … and as the colour of the stone contrasts with the surrounding rocks, you cannot distinguish human construction from nature. Creations like these impress by the incredibly talented manual labour required for their completion. But in addition to their great cultural value, their role in the conservation of the unique biodiversity of Andros is equally important.

This technique dominates in all kinds of constructions of the rural landscape throughout the islands.
Drywall masonry enabled agricultural production by building the terraces in order to cultivate, create land boundaries by the construction of walls, the facilitation of access and communication with the creation of paths and finally with everything related to housing, produce storage and animal shelters.
Thousands of meters of dry stone masonry run all over the island from end to end enclosing the land of each farmers terraces. These unique creations that have long supported man, his culture and especially the natural environment most of which have been abandoned for years now are collapsing and sadly tending to disappear.

Dry Stone Walls Andros Cyclades

And as if that is not enough, we now have the erection of wind turbines coming which pose to obliterate it completely. A landscape in which until today the only anthropogenic intervention was the dry stones that the elders built to create boundaries around their fields.

These monstrous constructions of 150m tall will create a huge environmental disaster, altering the imposing relief of Andros. Their huge iron wings, the large road openings in pristine areas, the threat to the Eleonora’s falcon and the Bonelli’s Eagle – protected tents for moths – noise etc, all of these elements sound like a horror film for our authentic landscape and the elegant work of the folk architecture, which is the dry stone walling.
And while the living standards of the residents will be irreparably degraded, as their land will lose value, the value of the tourist product will undoubtedly decrease.

On the occasion of World Earth Day with our thoughts on whether our behavior towards the planet affects our well-being or not, we have created a video highlighting the most integral part of the rural landscape of Andros – these impressive dry stone masonry walls.

Photo Album  /  Youtube Video

Until the day that we will meet again and explore Andros together!

The Art of Xerolithia was registered:at the National Index of Intangible Cultural Heritage in 2015.
in the Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity (UNESCO, 2003) in 2018.

 

For those of you, who are connected to Facebook, we invite you to join the group UNFORGETTABLE ANDROS,  that we created in order to publish and share our favourite photos from our most memorable moments on the island of Andros. We will be happy to see your pictures. Show us where you have been and let us together share the beauty of Andros with each other.

#staysafe #staypositive #stayhome

 

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