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Andros is a large island, the northernmost of the Cyclades. A trip through the inland areas takes you to a few green valleys but lots of terraced farmland separated by walls like those shown at right, called xerolithies, made of the local schist and unique to the island. The romantic description is that the large slabs serve as doors, so that shepherds can move them aside and let their flocks through. We tried to move a small rock, though, and it was like moving a parked car. The real reason for these interruptions in the walls is that it's simply easier to build them this way.
Most tourists don't go to Andros for their week's vacation; it's more an island of holiday homes for wealthy Greeks. Three entire museums in the main town of Kastro were built by one local shipping magnate family who filled them with its private collections. One of them is an archaeology museum; the other two are art museums. During our visit, the modern art museum held a temporary exhibit of Braque, the co-founder, with Picasso, of cubism.

This statue of Hermes is in the archaeological museum. It's from the second century BC, and is most likely a copy of an earlier bronze statue by the famed sculptor Praxiteles. Though it's a copy, the style of the well-regarded fourth-century BC sculptor is evident. Praxiteles carved sinews into the bodies of his figures and was the first to carve a female nude figure, a source of great attention at the time.

Venetians ruled the island of Tinos from the thirteenth century for half a millennium, until the Ottomans took the island in its last conquest. A large Roman Catholic population still resides there.

The Venetians built these two-story dovecotes, or peristeriones, intricately decorated to attract the birds. Though the birds are gratefully no longer part of the local diet, the remaining dovecotes lend a quaint and elaborate look to the otherwise stark Cycladic architecture.

Tinos is best known as a destination island for Greek Orthodox pilgrims. In 1822, during the Greek War of Independence, a nun in a local convent had a vision of the Virgin Mary, who directed her to a Byzantine painting, or icon, buried in the main town. A church was built on the spot where the icon was discovered. The icon is believed to have curative powers, and many of the faithful visit the church to pray for the sick. On the year's two largest holidays, March 25 and August 15, the town is filled with pilgrims.

Some of the most devout pilgrims crawl from the ferry about a quarter of a mile to the church. The town has thoughtfully carpeted the side of the road leading up to the church. The pilgrims wear knee pads and pads on their palms for the long journey to the church, which you can see in the distance. A line of crawling worshippers on their way to see the icon is a common weekend sight.