The monastery of Saint Irene was founded in 1780 at Archontas in the village of Apoikia by the Spiridou brothers, both of whom were monks.
At that time it was a nunnery, but in 1833 it was abandoned, due to King Otto's Royal Degree which demanded the dissolution of the orthodox monasteries, which numbered about 1000 in Greece, with a smalls number of monks or nuns and the confiscation of their properties. Gradually, the buildings around the church collapsed, although the church remained in good condition.
In 2006, Captain Eleftherios Polemis bought the field which included the ruins of the monastery. He and his family renovated the buildings around the church and did maintenance work inside the church, remaining true to the previous architectural form. The renovation took 10 years to be carried out.
Nowadays, the monastery plays a big role in the community. It holds summer camps for children, many of whom are orphans. Furthermore, throughout the whole year it houses the following exhibitions:
- History of writing (Kairis Collection)
- Traditional musical instruments
- Collection of stones, minerals & fossils (Spiros Mpellas collection)
- Elli Mandaraka - Stamatiadou & Flora of Andros
The church (dome basilica) is well worth viewing: it is made from slate with arches, the dome is based on trianglur spheres and the walls are built of traditional stone. Especially notable are the floor with an eagle and the marble "iconostasis" with its flower decoration, dating from 1806.
The museums should be visited and there is a wonderful view of the city of Andros and the coastline with the sea from the Monastery.
The Monastery is open every day from 10:00 – 17:00, including Sundays and celebration days.
Τhe text is cited by the Irene Kiagia (December 2018)