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Northern Cyclades: Andros Tinos Syros

By Nigel McGilchrist

168pp (3 island maps, 3 site plans)

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Andros strikes the visitor immediately as a quiet, reserved, clean and prosperous corner of Greece, well-treed and with water everywhere. Few other islands can offer such a wealth of shady walks, along valleys of running streams, amongst the flora, bird- and butterfly-life which they support,. This is above all a place for the rambler, the cultural tourist and those interested in visiting an island for its peacefulness, normality and unspoiled landscape. No visit should miss the well-preserved ancient tower at Aghios Petros; the small and beautifully clear archaeological museums at Palaiopolis and in Andros Chora; the picturesque villages of the interior, such as Stenies and Menites; the monastery of Panachrantos, the panoramic site of the castle at Apano Kastro and a tasting of the waters of the Sariza spring. There is restless energy in Tinos and the sense of a ferment of activity - not just in the flow of pilgrims who come to pay their respects to one of Greece's holiest icons, but in the terraces on the hillsides, in the beautiful dovecotes which dot every corner of the island's landscape, in the lovingly carved details on the houses in the `marble village' of Pyrgos and in the calmly bustling activity of the island's intimate rural villages. Syros has a feel quite different from the other Cycladic islands. The spacious, marble-surfaced elegance of the Neoclassical port Ermoupolis, the only true city in the Cyclades, is a vivid contrast to the usual labyrinthine streets of a Cycladic chora. The west coast of the island to the north of Kini is wild and uncompromising and seems a world away from the port.

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