Monday, 24 September 2012

The Hora in Andros

The Hora is built on a peninsula reaching all the way to its point. This post is about a small part of the Hora

starting from the main square to the point by the sea. This fountain is in the square and it would have been one of few, if not the only, sources of water for the whole place.


Through the arch, on to the narrow streets and alleyways.

The Hora is a very busy, thriving place with very few tourists even at the height of the season. You consequently get a real feel of what life is like on an island and the kafeneions are full of locals.

It is a thriving town and a prosperous one. I don't know this for sure but my impression is that a lot of people who have left the island have prospered and they come back and invest in it. I know for instance, that a lot of shipowners originally came from Andros.

A lof of these people come back for the summer holidays and this is very obvious if you sit in the kafeneions for a while. Visitors from Athens, London, New York and other places come back home and this boosts the economy of the island. I have never seen so many Philipino nannies with their charges in such a small space, and I don't think the people employing them live on the island or Athens - they come from the industrial/commercial centres of the Western world for their holidays in order to see their families.

So, the visitors are relatives of the locals who come to re-live their earlier years and consequently, the island is totally unspoilt as these people do not want to change the island, but want it the way it was when they were growing up.

They also don't need hotels as they stay with relatives. As far as I am aware, there are only two hotels in the centre of the Hora, the rest being 'Rooms' (what the English would call B+Bs) which are near the sea on the edge of the Hora.

A lot of the houses are grand (more of those in the next post) and all have been renovated - you don't find many wrecks the way you do on other islands.

The town has a rich cultural life: the Museum of Contemporary Art which could grace any European capital, an excellent Archaeological Museum, the Kydonieos Institute and a flourishing theatre. All of these have been made possible by donations from rich benefactors - the Museums of Contemporary Art and the Kydonieos Institute have been built and are funded by ship owning families and bear their names.

I don't know how the economic crisis has hit Andros but the feel you get is of a prosperous, comfortable town that has no ostentation whatsoever.

You get a  feel of the life of the town by walking about or sitting in the kafeneions. On our last day for instance, the whole place was buzzing, everyone out, wearing their best. It was the first day of school, the day where the priest joins the first assembly and blesses the school, the children and the new year.

The kids were then sent home, which in this case meant meeting their parents and relatives at the kafenion and cafeterias: the kids were wearing their best and so were the parents. The community feeling you got was very strong.

It is the same on a Sunday when everyone goes to the kafenions or cafeterias after the service. Everyone knows everyone else and the most common words are 'hello, how are you' as everyone greets everyone else.
One thing that puzzled me was this: as I said there are hardly any tourists, the Hora is a small place and yet the Museum of Contemporary Art is always full of people. The temporary exhibitions last all summer so, where do all these people come from?
Most of the architecture is what we call Greek neo-classical, and before apartment blocks took over, Athens looked like this, except on a grander scale 
with the exception of the balconies with columns which as far as I can tell is an Andros feature.
It is lovely walking around the narrow streets and at every turn there are narrow alleyways with views to the sea 
I always think the veranda of the house on the right looks inviting - so close to the street and one could talk to passers by while sitting there
I also wonder what is behind this gate on the right
This type of balcony is to be found all over Greece
The smudge on the wall under the balcony is the drain and flowers have been planted inside it
The only blot is all the electrical wires which are all over the place
Distressed but inviting
It must be so nice sitting in these balconies with the columns 
Outside staircases are very common, denoting that this is a two household house
Another veranda which is just off the street
The views from this house must be so fantastic 
A small church just before we reach the sea
We have now reached the end of the peninsula
and to the left of the point is an elevation with wonderful views of the second beach which during our stay was deserted as it was so windy.

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