Tinos, An Island Certainly Not to Be Missed
Have you ever have been at Mykonos, the heart of the Cyclades islands?
If you ever have been at Mykonos, the heart of the Cyclades islands, you probably have noticed the two neighbouring islands, Syros and Tinos. But I am sure you haven’t been interested in them at all. They are both half an hour away from Mykonos but let’s leave Syros for now, and talk about Tinos, the one at the right.
Tinos is actually the ideal place for lovers of nature, architecture, art and traditions. It is one of the largest in Cyclades islands, a place for pilgrimage, unspoiled and unaffected from tourism. The island houses some 600 chapels and thousands of dovecotes all elaborately decorated.
The dovecotes are two storey towers decorated with geometric designs, which are mainly built on land slopes at an angle to protect the entrances from wind to help takeoffs and landings of the doves. The decorating patterns are believed to attract the doves.
The impressive church of Megalohari in the center of the main town, was built after a nun at Monasterey Kechrovouniou, Sister Pelagia, had visions of Virgin Mary revealed where an icon depicting her and Archangel was to be found. Early the next year (1823) after some excavations the icon was found, close to the ruins of an old byzantine church, after it stayed undergorund for 850 years. The crypt where the icon was found is now the Chapel of Evresis (discovery). Later, Sister Pelagia has been nominated to Agia Pelagia (Santa).
The feast of Annunciation (25th of March) and the feast of Assumption (15th of August) are the two most important dates for all Greeks for pilgrimage to the island. Thousands of Greeks Orthodox believers walk on their knees directly from the harbour on the stone paved road leading up to the church of Panagia Evangelistra to visit the miraculous icon and ask for the protection and favours of the Virgin.
The icon, called Panagia Evangelistria, meaning Our Lady of Good Tidings, is a beautiful portrayal of Mary kneeling with her head bent in prayer. Regarded by scholars as being older than the Byzantine period, it may perhaps be the work of the Apostle and Evangelist St Luke. It is assumed that the icon was a sacred object in the Byzantine church and was hidden or lost around the time of the Moslem invasions.
But Tinos is also unique in character because it is an important Catholic centre, with many catholic Greeks living on the island.
The capital, is a typical Cycladic town, with narrow streets filled with lovely taverns, art shops and souvenir shops. The port is lined with restaurants and hotels. The impressive church is a neo-classical structure with white marble stairs. Around the church there is a Byzantine Museum, an Art Gallery of Artists from Tinos, and a Sclupture Museum. In the town there also is an Archaeological Museum housing the findings on the island.
The forty white little picturesque villages with their unspoiled architecture, the 600 chapels scattered all over the island, and the many beautiful sandy and pebble beaches make it a wonderful place to visit. So if you hire a car, some of the places of interest to visit could be:
- The attractive Isternia village with the beautiful gardens and views over the sea, the monastery of Panagia Katapoliani and the church of Agia Paraskevi.
- Kambos, the birthplace of Agia Pelagia, with the interesting old church of Agia Aikaterini, and the nearby Xobourgo, the ancient capital of the island.
- Kardiani, a beautiful village with views accross Syros island.
- Kionia, the site of the sanctuary of Poseidon and Amphitrite.
- Komi, a nice village famous for its architecture, with the neghbouring impressive village of Volakas.
- Monastery or Moni of Kehrovouniou, the most important monastery of the island, which looks like a Cycladic village on the top of the hill that houses several churches and the cell where Agia Pelagia lived.
- Pyrgos, the artists’ village that lies among trees and vineyards with the bautiful square sheltered by a plane tree.
- Tripotamos, just in the middle of the island with an excellent architecture.
February 4, 2009