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Thursday, 16 July 2015

Andros: More Impressions (including Venetian Castle Ruins and St. Peter's Tower)

Venetian Castle Ruins, Chora  

"The Tower of St. Peter is located on the slopes of the mountain under the village of St. Petros. It was built during the C3rd-4th BC but the traces of its foundation are pre-historical. The Tower has at least five levels which can be reached by a spiral staircase. The Tower is topped by a dome which today, unfortunately, is partially destroyed. It is not known exactly what function this tower served but the strongest possibility is that it was used as a beacon to send messages across the island by use of fire. During its history, it is certain that it functioned as a garrison to protect the nearby iron ore mines that existed during these times" (from

On the Round Hellenic Tower of Andros

from "The Cyclades; or, Life among the insular Greeks", James Theodore Bent, 1885

The tower of St Peter is round, and rests upon a circular foundation, which is a little over twenty-three yards in circumference, and projects a little over a yard from the foundations of the tower
itself. This foundation is about four and one-third feet high, and * is built of colossal stones, some three, some four yards long, and about a yard is a good average thickness. This foundation is what
usually would be called Pelasgic, whereas the tower which is built upon it is in a much more advanced style, having the stone carefully levelled on the outside, and chiselled up to the very highest

The entrance is to the south, and there are three windows over it ; besides this the tower has three other windows or apertures, perhaps for discharging missiles out of .The door is exceedingly
curious, being only a yard and a half high, and made of four huge stones, two of which form the jambs and the other two the threshold and lintel, and rather remind one of the door into the
treasury of Atreus at Mycene in miniature. The width of the door is one yard four inches, and the stones of the threshold and lintel are longer than this, and project into the walls on either side so as
to form a support. Anyone entering this door must naturally stoop to go in, and in doing so will consequently lock down. When he gets into the circular room inside, he will be surprised not to see
any staircase leading up to the higher storeys ; but on examining the doorway again he will find that there is a hole in the ceiling of the long low entrance, like a chimney, answering a double purpose ;
first, if an enemy who is ignorant of the construction of this tower tries to enter, he can easily be struck down through this aperture above him whilst he is stooping ; and, secondly, it serves
as a staircase to the first storey, to ascend which projecting stones for footholds are left in the sides. This curious chimney staircase is constructed in the thickness of the wall, admitting only one
person at a time, and it goes no further than the first storey.

The circular room entered by this doorway is five yards three inches in diameter, and has a vaulted roof — that is to say, the inner part of the outer wall gradually inclines upwards to a point like the
roof of the treasury of Atreus, caused by the overlaying of the stones, and the top being formed by radiating slabs. The walls on the inside are smooth, and on either side of the door are two niches, through which a small amount of light can penetrate ; outside they are mere holes, but they increase in a triangular form as they pierce the thickness of the wall.

On ascending the chimney staircase you reach the second storey, which is chiefly taken up by the dome of the vaulted roof of the first storey ; and from here starts a spiral staircase, which goes
up to the topmost storey, but of which only twenty-five steps are now left, made of huge stones set into the outer wall, and projecting one yard eight inches inwards ; and along it are little niches for the
introduction of light. Up to the summit of the tower there have been six storeys, but without a ladder it was impossible for me to reach the summit. A window over the entrance door, similar to it in size, lights the second storey, and in the walls are holes in which probably beams have been placed to form floors for the different storeys. The inner wall of the tower from top to bottom has been constructed with much smaller stones than the outer, and well fitted together with cement. There is no trace, as far as I could see, of the roof. Over the window of the second storey is another smaller window, and over that a bigger one. To the left of this last there is a straight slab walled in as a protection to the indow, and there are two more windows, one over the other, for the storeys above this.

On the outer wall of the building appear four square shallow furrows running from top to bottom, which at first sight appear to have contained drain pipes from the roof, but then they are too
carefully executed for that; it is just possible they may have served some military purpose of which we are now ignorant.  

This tower of Andros is a venerable relic of the past, and deserves to be carefully preserved ; but I fear the tendency is towards destruction. Grass is growing luxuriantly over the vaulted roof on the first storey, now ruined in the centre ; cattle find shelter here from the cold and sun ; and then the topmost storey looks in a very tottering condition, and if it falls it will destroy the vaulted roof and other points of interest below it. The monastery of Hagia, to which it belongs, has no surplus cash to spend on what the superior called ' useless ruins.' So, unless some enterprising archaeologist like the prince of Bavaria, who bought the theatre of Melos, comes forward to rescue it, a valuable relic of the past will be irretrievably spoiled.

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