Tinos lies only 700 meters from Andros and 8 nautical
miles from Mykonos. After Naxos, Andros, and Paros it is the fourth
largest of the islands of the Cyclades. Tinos has a land mass
of 194 sq. km and a coast line of 106 km. It is 85 nautical miles
from Piraeus with a population of 7,500.
is mountainous with a few small valleys. At first glance one is
put off by the ugly industrial harbor, but the interior of the
island has 46 different villages with many lovely settings to
is known as the Holy Island of the Virgin and is a place of pilgrimage
for Greek Orthodox, the overwhelming majority of
Daily, Tinos receives many pilgrims
from all over Greece coming to worship in the presence of the sacred
Icon of the Virgin Mary. Tinos is and has been directly linked, since ancient times, to the Almighty,
when pagan supplicants petitioned Poseidon. Today Tinos surpasses
Patmos in accessibility and popularity for the average, everyday Greek
Tinos is also sacred to the Catholic church and
has many Catholic residents.
Just in case you missed the point–Tinos is not a party island. In fact, partiers may be firmly placed on the ferry and pointed toward one of Tinos' more glitzy neighbors.
The terraces of Tinos boast over one thousand Venetian dovecotes. These little white embroidered towers are home to thousands of white doves. In addition, Tinos has a chapel for every ten inhabitants.
Three are many lush, green terraces on Tinos. It is one of the few Cycladic islands that is self-sufficient in its water supply.
The ferries dock at Tinos Town, the island capital (Hora). The massive cathedral Panagia Evangelistra and its neon-lit cross float above the town. Panagia Evangelistria is build of the island's marble.
Leading from the ferry to Panagia Evangelistra, Evangelistra Street (also called Sacred Way) becomes a solid mass of pilgrims on the two main feast days of the Virgin, March 15 and August 15. In August, especially, there may be as many as 17,000 worshippers on Tinos with religious ceremonies broadcast on national television.
During festivals, the holy icon is carried about the streets in a jeweled pavilion. There is a military band and national diginitaries make an appearance. Many pilgrims crawl from the ferry to the church on all fours, seeking penance for the health of a loved one.
On days that are no religious festivals, you can wander freely and visit shops and stalls with all sorts of wares for sale on your way up Evangelistra Steet. The church stairs, when you reach them, are covered with a red carpet. Join the line, light a candle, pray, kiss the icon. The icon, The Maglochari or Great Grace, is arrayed with so much gold, diamonds, and pearls that you can barely see the Virgin's face.
The crypt where Ag. Pelagia discovered the icon is now the Chapel of Evroseos. The spot where the icon lay on the rock is marked by silver lines. The spring here is supposed to have healing properties. Many Greek children get baptized here by water from this font in August.
There are several museums for the art that has been offered to Panagia. There's an art museum, a museum devoted to the Tiniot sculptor Lazarou Sochou, a Byzantine Museum and another museum just for the items used in the church service.
Somewhat removed from Evangelistra Street, but still in Tinos Town, there is the Archaeology Museum with articles from the Sanctuary of Poseidon. The Folklore Museum is on Loutra Street.
Buses leave from the port area.
Outside of Tinos town
Only 4km west of Tinos Town is Kionia, or the columns. There are beaches here and the Santuary of Poseidon and Amphitrite. Poseidon rescued many a sailor, and his wife Amphitrite granted fertility. Pilgrims to Delos often stop here first to take a purifying bath.
Further west there's a beach and a cave with stalactites at Gastria Cave. Just east of here is the busy shingly beach at Ag. Fokas. Only minutes from there is the beach at Vryokastro, where you can see the walls of an ancient settlement. A bit more to the east and you'll find the beach at Ag. Sostis and the sandy beach at the busy resort Ag. Ioannis Porto.
One of the biggest convents in Greece is to the north. The 12th Century Kechrovouni Convent has five churches. Here is where Sister Palagia had her two visions. She was canonized in 1971. You can visit her old cell, see her bed and a box containing her embalmed head. The villages of Arnados and Dio Choria are very near the convent.
Dovecotes decorate the village of Exombourgo, located on the rocky crag where the Venetian fortress of Santa Elena now sits in ruins. From here you have a superb view of the nearby islands and Tinos' many villages.
The road goes up from Kambos, which is the seat of the Catholic arch-diocese. Tinos has the highest percentage of Catholics in the Cyclades. From here you can walk to one of the two 8th Century BC towns that was called Tinos. Up the valley are the villages of Smardakito and Taarambados. These two villages house the island's most beautiful dovecotes.
North of Exombourgo, there's a 17th Century Jesuit monastery at Loutra. The Ursulines run a school there now. Walk from here to Volax to enjoy some wild scenery and granite outcrops in weird, mushroom-shaped, wind-formed rock formations. In Volax, look for the basket-makers and weavers who are well known on this island. Mt. Tsiknias, above, is the tomb of Calais and Zetes, the sons of Boreas the north wind. Boreas was responsible for blowing Jason and the Argonauts off course, so Hercules killed his sons and had them buried here. The north wind still keeps Tinos cool, even in August.
From Komi there's along valley that runs down to the sea at Kolymbithres, where there's a nice bay and sandy beaches.
Northern Tinos is famous for its green marble. You can see examples in a sculpture museum in Isternia. Several well-known Greek artists either came from or studied in the village Pirgos (or Pyrgos) where there is a sculpture school. Pirgos has a small museum and the residence of sculptor Giannolis Halepas which can be visited from April–October. There are shops selling students' works here.
Below Pirgos, the bus continues to the beach at Panormos Bay and to Marlas, where the marble quarries are. From the northern tip of Tinos it's only one nautical mile to Andros and a good spot to enjoy the red sunsets if you aren't blown over by the wind.
There's a remote beach at Kardiani on the southwest coast. Isternia is a pleasant village with many plane trees. From there you can drive to Ormos or Ag. Nikita Beach, where there are tavernas and places to stay.
Drinking and Dining
The food is better if you get away from the waterfront restaurants. As you might imagine, there are many places meant to feed and house pilgrims in Tinos Town.
The island's name comes from the Phoenician for snake. Tinos was originally infested with vipers. By the 4th Century BC a sanctuary to Poseidon was founded there. Poseidon sent a flock of storks to the island to gobble up the snakes. The first pilgrims began coming here to be cured at the December festivals of the Poseidonia.
Following the fourth Crusade, the Venetians built the fortress of Santa Elena at Exombourgo out of the stones from the ancient acropolis and city. This fortress withstood eleven assaults by the Turks only to be surrendered to the Turks by a Venetian captain in 1715. The Turks promptly blew up Santa Elena.
In 1822 a nun named Pelagia from the Moni Kechrovouniou had a vision of the Virgin Mary directing her to a rock. Excavations of the rock began in 1823. Revealed was the icon of the Annunciation of the Archangel Gabriel. It had been buried for over 850 years. This icon is credited with amazing healing powers. The icon is known in Greece as the Magalochari, or the Great Joy. Panagia Evangelistra was built on the spot and quickly became the most important pilgrimage spot in Greece. It is a national shrine.