Tinos is one of the most interesting islands in the Cyclades group, in the central Aegean Sea, and certainly my favorite. It's well-preserved authentic character and many unspoiled natural and man-made beauties, are modestly waiting to be discovered. In antiquity, Tinos was also known as Ophiussa (from ophis, Greek for snake) and Hydroessa (from hydor, Greek for water). The closest islands are Andros, Delos, and Mykonos. It has a land area of 194.464 square kilometres (75.083 sq mi) and a 2011 census population of 8,636 permanent inhabitants. One of the few Greek islands with a mixed Catholic and Orthodox population, Tinos is full of works of art and crafts, as is a well-known gastronomic heaven. Try the local fourtalia, an omelette with potatoes or artichokes and sausage, as well as the local delicious cheeses and make sure to taste the local wines and raki.
A picturesque narrow street on the island of Tinos.
One of the largest and prettiest villages on Tinos, 24 km north west of Chora, Pyrgos, built in the heart of a verdant site, has great architecture and a long tradition in sculpture. Even today a marble sculpture school works in the village. Visitors have a chance to admire the marble streets, arches, churches and many monuments. Wood carving work shops and a School of Fine Arts also function in the village. Marble exists everywhere, in different forms, above the colorful doors of the houses, on the fountains, in the cemetery with its wonderful sculptures and in the completely marble-made buildings which make Pyrgos an outdoor architectural museum. The whitewashed narrow alleys, houses and churches as well as the colorful flowers decorating the house facades and balconies uniquely match with the aristocratic marble features, giving the village a superb decor. It is worth mentioning that Pyrgos is the birthplace of many famous Greek sculptors including Ioannis (Yannoulis) Halepas whose house is open to the public, as a small museum.
Yannoulis Halepas Museum. Exhibition area.
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Pyrgos, Tinos. Partial view.
Tinos is worldwide famous for the Orthodox Church of Panagia Evangelistria, its many traditional windmills, the numerous artistic dovecotes scattered in the countryside, 50 populated and active villages and its Venetian fortifications at the mountain of Exomvourgo. The church of Panagia Evangelistria, with its reputedly miraculous icon of Virgin Mary that it holds, is also the center of a yearly pilgrimage that takes place on the date of the Dormition of the Virgin Mary (15 August, "Dekapentavgoustos" in Greek). This is perhaps the most notable and still active yearly religious pilgrimage in the region of the eastern Mediterranean. Many pilgrims of the flock make their way the 800 metres (2,600 feet) from the ferry wharf to the church on their hands and knees as a sign of devotion.
Tinos has a varied landscape. From the shores of Panormos and Kolimbithra on the North, to Kionia, Agios Yannis O Portos, and Agios Sostis on the South, Tinos has many beaches. Tsiknias is the highest mountain on the island at 750 metres (2,460 feet) and hides the village of Livada. The mountain of Exombourgo is quite distinct, and unlike its more rounded Cycladic neighbors, has a jagged appearance. Between Tsiknias and Exombourgo lies the fruitful plain of Falatados, unique on the island for its relatively flat terrain. The area around Volax is very unusual, with giant boulders. The village of Volax lies at the center of this landscape. To the west, the mountains surrounding Pyrgos are full of some of the most beautiful green marble in Greece. All around the island of Tinos, the islanders have created the most unusual things out of stone. The hills are all terraced with stone walls and every village is connected to its nearest neighbors by stone walkways set between a parallel set of stone walls. The island's mineral resources include marble, Verde antico, asbestos and a granite mine near Volax. Tinos has numerous beaches, organized or not. Perhaps the most famous beach is Kolympithra, on the north coast, very exposed to the etesian winds, with a usually high surf, thus the beach became popular among surfers and surf lessons and rentals are also available. The bay of Panormos is a natural harbor and has a beach and nice restaurants, while nearby Rohari beach is very popular with the younger crowd. On the southwest coast, Ysternia offers two beaches, one with sand one with pebbles. Further east, is the beach of Agios Petros, Apigania, a quieter option, and on the south of the island, Agios Ioannis Porto beach, Agios Sostis beach, Agios Romanos beach and Kionia beach. Generally, the beaches in the south are more popular and organized with hotels, seaside taverns, and cafeterias.
Do not neglect visiting "Traditional Cafeneion of Kyra-Leni" at the small Catholic village of Krokos, where we enjoyed a great family lunch after an enjoyable day at the beach, savoring local recipes artistically prepared by Andonis (tel.: 22830 51409).
Tinos used to be an important religious cetre in antiquity as well, with pilgrims visiting the Temple of Poseidon, at Kionia, before departing for the sacred island of Delos.
Tinos is home to the microbrewery of Nissos, producing an internationally awarded craft beer. Ask for it, try it, and enjoy!
Visit the important Catholic monastery of the Sacred Heart, in Xombourgo.
Visit the village of Xinara, and the ancient village of Arnado, as well as impressive Volax.
Festivities on August 15th, day when the Dormition of the Virgin Mary is celebrated in Tinos.