Tinos is situated in the Cyclades group of islands in the Aegean near to Mykonos and Delos. The island is only 194 square kilometres (fourth biggest in the Cyclades), and has a population under 9,000 and yet Tinos is one of the more interesting islands of the Cyclades.
In appearance Tinos is very similar to the other island of the Cyclades, white-washed villages with cube like houses, rocky treeless landscape. Tinos is famous for its windmills (Tinos has about 80 of them), its many dovecotes and most of all the Church Panagia Evangelistria which holds the miraculous icon of the Virgin Mary.
The main town in Tinos goes by the same name and over half the population of the island live there. The town of Tinos doesn't seem as impressive as some of the other harbour towns in the Cyclades as you come into the harbour, but this soon changes as you get into the town. The water front is what you expect from a Greek island, hotels, restaurants etc. The streets around the harbour are also typical of Greek islands with the close streets full of tourist shops. What you will notice about Tinos is that there are as many if not more Greek tourists that foreign, this is because of the Panagia Evangelistria church.
Another interesting fact about Tinos is that it has a very large catholic community as well as Orthodox which is unusual in Greece, this is due to over 500 years of Venetian occupation.
According to ancient Greek myths Tinos was the home of Aeolos, god of the winds and Poseidon was considered the patron god of Tinos. Tinos was actually a popular place to worship Poseidon with pilgrims coming from all over Greece to worship there, similar to Tinos' neighbour Delos. There were two major temples dedicated to Poseidon, unfortunately you can only see the foundations today. According to legend it was Poseidon who cleared the island of snakes using storks. During classical times Tinos was ruled by Athens, after this period the History of Tinos is the same as the rest Greece.
From 1207 until 1715 Tinos was ruled by the Venetians some of their forts and architecture can still be seen. From 1715 up until the start of the war of Greek independence Tinos was ruled by the Turks. On the 15th of August 1940 the island of Tinos once again appeared in the history and memory of Greece, the Greek ship, Elli was torpedoed and sunk by an Italian submarine whilst in Tinos harbour. This action dragged Greece into the Second World War on the side of the allies. The memorial of the Elli is at the church of Panagia Evangelistria.
The church of Panagia Evangelistria sits at the top of a hill about 800 metres from the harbour and is probably one of the most important Orthodox churches in Greece. Thousands of people a year visit the church to see the icon Panagia Evangelistria as it is believed to perform miracles and cure people of sickness, many pilgrems crawl on all fours from the harbour all the way up to the church.
The founding of the church is very interesting , it goes that in June 1822 a nun called Pelagia had a vision of the Holy Virgin. Mary told Pelagia where they would find a sacred icon in a field above the town. Pelagia informed the town and excavations were started, which resulted in the discovery of the Icon. The church was built on the same spot to house the Icon. Recent archaeological studies have found out that the same site was used for a Byzantine church that was destroyed by Muslim pirates 800 years previously and that church was actually built on the site of an even older temple dedicated to Dionisos!
The icon itself shows Mary praying and is called Panagia Evangelistria (Our Lady of Good Tidings) it is now believed that the icon pre dates the Byzantine period and was thought of as a sacred item by the Byzantines, who buried it safely away from the pirates.
Every year on the 15th of August there is a huge pilgrimage to the church to celebrate the Dormition of the Virgin Mary. This is the largest pilgrimage in the Eastern Mediterranean.
Tinos does have some very nice beaches, probably not as good as near by Mykonos, but a lot less crowded than Mykonos which makes up for it. The beaches are all over the island and some very close to the main town, all the best beaches are normally protected from the winds as the island and all the Cyclades can get windy. Some of the best beaches on Tinos are Kolympithra, Kionia, Agios Sostis and Agios Romanos
Tinos is very popular with Greek visitors who come for the church. Tinos does have very nice beaches and typical Cyclades architecture, many people consider Tinos to be more beautiful than its famous neighbor, Mykonos.
Location - Tinos is in the Cyclades inbetween the islands of Andros and Mykonos, south East of Athens.
Travelling to Tinos: Tinos doesn't have an airport, but Mykonos next to it does have an international airport. A ferry from Mykonos to Tinos is only about 30 minutes. You can take ferries from Piraeus in Athens or from Rafina in Attica, the ferries take between 3 and 5 hours depending on which one you take. Between April and October there are many ferries but in the winter months the number of ferries drop quite a lot.
Tips: If you are traveling to Tinos from Athens airport you are probably best to take the ferry from Rafina as it is closer. If you want to visit the famous icon at the church of Panagia Evangelistria be prepared to stand in a que as it is very busy. If you want to do the pilgrimage and crawl up from the harbour, don't worry, there is a huge strip of carpet on the road all the way up the hill.b