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The Imposing Lighthouse of Andros, Greece a Symbol of its Glorious Shipping Past

Andros lighthouse Greece
The historic Tourlitis lighthouse on the Greek island of Andros. Credit: anjči,  Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic

On the Aegean island of Andros, Greece a lighthouse emerges from the water like a strange sea creature is one of the most famous spots on the island.

The Tourlitis lighthouse, which is located at the northernmost extreme of the Cyclades archipelago, illuminates the route of seamanship for more than 120 years.

The picturesque and impressive structure is among the few in Europe, built on a rock, in the sea. It was constructed in 1887 and first operated on January 1, 1897. It has a height of 7 meters, a focal height of 36 meters with the luminescence of 11 nautical miles.

It was built on a stone column opposite the Venetian Castle of Andros, at a time when the island had already become a major center of Greek shipping.

After the War of Independence, several refugees from the island of Psara arrived there and their experience in shipping and trade from Central and Eastern Europe made them wealthy and famous worldwide.

Andros lighthouse
The lighthouse is among the few in Europe, built on a rock, in the sea. Credit: Nicolas Hadjidimitriou/ Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International

Andros the early shipping center of Greece

Andros emerged as a shipping center following the decline of other traditional shipping centers such as Galaxidi and Hydra Island.

Andrian merchants were particularly active in the grain trade from central and eastern Europe conducted from the Danube estuary.

Initially locally constructed, Andrian ships were later built at Syros, especially as shipping began the transit to steam.

In the 20th century, Andros, despite the setbacks of the First and Second World War, was  at the top of commercial shipping and economic prosperity. In the early 20th century, Andriot ship owner Dimitris Moraitis launched the Greece – North America sea route. In 1939, Andros was second in number of ship registration, after Piraeus.

The Second World War caused significant losses on the island, both in lives and ships. In the late 1950s a large emigration wave began, both to the major urban centers of Athens and Piraeus, as well as abroad (mostly in the USA), reducing the island’s population dramatically.

Andros lighthouse destroyed and rebuilt

The lighthouse was destroyed during World War II and was never restored in its original form, until 1994, when it was rebuilt with funding coming from the Goulandris family, one of the most prominent families of the island.

It became the first automated lighthouse in Greece, so there was no further need for an onsite keeper to supervise its function.

lighthouse Andros Greece
Tourlitis was the first lighthouse imprinted on a Greek stamp

Since it was renovated, it has been one of the area’s tourist attractions. It also became the first Greek lighthouse to be imprinted on a stamp.

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