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Andros: Legends of the Medieval Castle

17 June on en   white sand and crystal waters

Korthi, an area found at the southern part of the island, is popular for its lush hiking pathways, leading from one pretty little village to the other, scattered with windmills and watermills, dove cots and old chapels. A variety of different beaches are also found along its coast. “Mylos”, in particular,  is well known among windsurfers worldwide. But it is another one, with a very peculiar name and physiology, that really stands out.

It is called “Grias Pedema”, which in Greek literally means “the old lady’s jump”. It is a small, white sandy beach, a few klm away from the main beach of Korthi, accessible via the sea or by car and a few minutes walk down a short, steep footpath. There, in the middle of the water, not far from the coast, stands a 15m high towering rock. Striking and harsh, it dominates the surroundings but also offers the perfect sun protection – forming a natural umbrella under which unwary bathers enjoy themselves for hours.

Right above them, on the flat top cliff, lay the remains of the biggest medieval walled castle of Andros, the “Castle of Faneromeni” or “Epano Kastro”. Built in the 13th century, by the Venetian noble Marino Dandolo who became Lord of Andros in 1206, the fortified castle protected the inhabitants from the bloody pirates, and soon became famous for its resistance force and durability. Hundreds of years later, it fell under siege by the Ottoman army of conquerors. Legend has it, that the renowned Turkish soldiers could not penetrate its walls, and were desperately looking for a way to get in. So they sent over an old Greek lady and her pregnant daughter to beg for help. The guards allowed entrance to the two women and that same night, the old lady sneaked to a gate and let the enemy in. Haunted by remorse at the massacre that followed, she threw herself off the cliff and was transformed into the rock, eternally damned to stare at the ruins of her betrayal…Locals maintain, that if one stares persistently at the rock, soon will start to distinguish the profile lines of an old lady with a scarf around her head..

Up to this day the ruins of the castle, battered for hundreds of years by the wind and the rain, continue to lay on top of the cliff, some 600m above the sea level, offering a spectacular, dramatic view of the Aegean, and, due to the flat ground, an excellent chance for a walk among the remains of ancient houses, temples, water tanks and walls. Nesting at one edge, the small white chapel of Faneromeni overlooks quietly at the universe. Every year on August 15th, locals organize a big fair on its courtyard, to celebrate and honour Virgin Mary.

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