Tinos was named either after its first king whose name was Tinos or after the Phoenician word Tanith that means snake.
The history of the island goes back through the millenniums as there are findings from the Neolithic era (Vryokastro area) and the Mycenaeans’ civilisation (domed tomb in the area of Marlas).
Poseidon and Amphitrite were already worshipped in the island by the 6th century B.C. Their sumptuous temple, that was part of a complex with a theatre, restaurant, fountains, baths and smaller temples, was frequented by the pilgrims travelling to Delos as they had to stop there and purify themselves before landing on the sacred island. The ancient port is situated at a small distance from the Sanctuary and even today one can see the ruins. It is also known that Dionysus, the god of wine, was worshipped at a temple located at the site where nowadays stands the Annunciation Church of Our Lady of Tinos.
There is scant information on the period of the Roman Empire. In 1207 Tinos was conquered by the Venetians Andrea and Jeremaiah Ghizi whose family dominated the island until 1390 when it passed under the direct rule of the Republic of Venice till 1715. Two hundred families of Venetian nobility lived in the fortress of Exomvourgo (IL Castello di Santa Elena) and have had a long lasting influence on the island as far as the architecture, the religious dogma, the habits and customs of the people are concerned.
In 1715 Tinos succumbed to the Ottoman rule due to the betrayal of the Venetian commandant Valvi who surrendered the fortress and the whole settlement was burnt down.
However, there was an enormous change for the better as the privileges afforded by the Ottomans boosted the economic growth of the island and religious tolerance eventually changed the ratio between Orthodox and Catholics. Seven hundred and fifty chapels were built.
In 1821 Tinos joined the Greek Revolution with Pyrgos being the first village of the island to raise the flag of independence and became part of the Greek State in 1830 with the rest of the Cyclades. Yet, the years from 1850 to 1950 were financially hard for the islanders and a vast number of the female population were obliged to emigrate to Constantinople and Smyrna in order to seek work as servants or governesses. The development of the island through tourism started gradually in the 70s.
An important event in the history of Tinos is the finding of the Holy Icon of the Annunciation of Virgin Mary on the 30th of January 1823, following the vision of a nun called Pelaghia on the 23rd of July 1822.
64 inhabited or now deserted villages -architectural chef d oeuvres – are scattered all over the island.
Pyrgos, Kardiani, Steni, Falatados, Arnados, Dio Choria, Komi, Kalloni, Tripotamos, Volax…. There are small and big ones, and walking through their narrow alleys you can and get a feeling of the past.
Medieval settlements built on the traces of some older ones are enlivened by the scent of the basil, the colours of the flowers, the sound of the wind and the presence of a woman who will treat you to a glass of raki, pasteli on lemon leaves and dried figs.
The Tinian House. Orientated to the South to be protected from the Northern wind and to profit from the Sun, made by stone with thick walls of 60-80 cm and small openings, the Tinian house consists of the living room around which there are two or three bedrooms overlooking the north and the kitchen facing the east. Downstairs, there was the storeroom or the cellar. The houses are cube-shaped and their dimensions are small in perfect balance with the environment and their occupants. All the houses are attached to each other creating a labyrinth of alleys and providing a shelter for the protection of the inhabitants against the raids of the pirates. That’s why all the villages of Tinos are high on the hills and away from the coastline.
The human intervention is visible everywhere. The low dry-stone walls were built hundreds of years ago in order to stop the soil erosion and they stretch all over the island. The “Kelia”, a kind of small stone cottages, and the “damia”, stone sheds for the animals, were constructed all over the land. Chapels, about a thousand, are scattered like precious jewels across the inland. They are distinguished by their white washed walls and many of them hide valuable religious relics, exceptional samples of the Byzantine and Venetian art.
Yet, the dovecots are the Tinos trade mark. The pigeon breeding, a Venetian privilege, led to the building of these large cubes which are decorated by the Tinian craftsman with original and symbolic motifs of unrivalled artistry. Each dovecote is unique just like our fingerprints.
Small or long sandy beaches, pebble or rock beaches, remote or crowded, all of them give us the chance to relax and to enjoy the summer sun of the Cyclades.
Stavros. The ancient port, within five-hundred -metre distance from the sanctuary of Poseidon and Amphitrite.
Aghios Fokas. A two-kilometre sandy beach with a view to Delos, interspersed with beach bars and small taverns. A year ago, the Caretta-caretta sea-turtle chose it to lay its eggs.
Kolymbithra. Two beaches, the small one suitable for games on the sand and the big one for those who love surfing.
Livada. Wild beauty, surrounded by huge rocks. Ideal to swim in when the weather is calm, and to watch with awe the rough sea when the north wind blows.
Mali-Koumelas. Dramatic scenery, rough rocks which emerge from the crystal waters of the Aegean Sea, an ideal habitat for the seagulls and the Monachus-monachus seals.
TINOS CULTURE – GASTRONOMY
A dear friend, when he first came to the island told his wife: ‘’These people eat well, so there is culture here’’. Is it the light? Is it the relief of the island with the unexpected changes? Is it the materials? Is it the marble or the stone that broadened people’s imagination?
People took the marble and worked on it, thus Doukas, Filippotis, Voulgaris, Sohos and Halepas were born.
They took the light, the forms and the colours, thus Gyzis, Lytras and Gaitis were born.
They took the stone, they carved it and gave birth to numerous folk architects and craftsmen whose collaboration resulted in the harmony of the villages and the endless rows of the dry-stone walls.
According to a Greek proverb, “labour whets the appetite” so women had to cook, to invent and create in partnership with their husbands. So, they used the bud from the capers, the flower from the artichoke, the sugar from the grapes, the milk and the meat from their cattle, the fruit and vegetables from their gardens and they made the caper salad, the artichoke in oil, the grape must (petimezi), the dried figs, various kinds of cheese, the “petroma” and ‘’kariki”, the louza and the sausages from the pork. They even concocted sweet cheese pies, tiny sculptures made with dough.
This way of life, expressed through the customs and traditions of the local inhabitants, has been loved and chosen by people all over the world. Among them, there are a lot of artists who, inspired by the scenery, live and create on the island.
Tinos Jazz Festival
Jazz on Tinos
Museum of Marble Arts
Cultural Foundation of Panormos “Giannoulis Halepas”
Festival of Tinos Municipality
Ι.Τ.Η.Π Cultural Foundation of Tinos
Tinos World Music Festival