Tinos is a place with a unique trump card, boasting dozens of villages with amazing architectural experiences and first-line museums. The island is also home to great painters and marble sculptures, as well as impressive dovecotes.
The Dormition (or Megalochari) church is a sacred pilgrimage destination for Greeks from across the country. Every August 15, the streets around it are filled with pious and kneeling believers.
Hora is a popular Jewish traditional dance that gets everyone on the floor and has great symbolic meaning. It is usually the last event at a bar or bat mitzvah and communicates to guests that they are welcomed by their host family. It also signifies that they will be supported as they continue to live their lives in Judaism.
It is a circle dance that can be performed in a variety of ways. Often, the dancers hold hands and spin around the circle in a counterclockwise direction. It is accompanied by music, such as a cymbalom, accordion, violin, or viola.
In the 1920s, a Romanian Jewish dancer named Baruch Agadati joined forces with a composer and a writer of lyrics to create a song and dance called hora. This was the first hora to be introduced into Palestine and it became an immediate hit. Hassidic students, who were used to dancing in simple traditional marches, gradually began adopting the hora.
Rivka Sturman, a kibbutznik choreographer quoted in Seeing Israel and Jewish Dance, notes that the hora was recognized as the best way for the Israeli pioneers (halutzim) to express their enthusiasm in building their new country together. It was energetic, egalitarian, and close-knit. It is not surprising that it was the most popular form of folk dancing in Israel.
The island’s long quest for self-sufficiency and the particularities of its terrain have produced a cornucopia of unique local products. Wander the streets of its picturesque villages and admire immortal works of marble crafting by artists such as Giannoulis Halepas, Dimitris Filippis, the Fitali brothers and Georgios Vitalis.
Tinos is also one of Greece’s windier islands, making it a great destination for windsurfing. The beaches are a feast for the eyes, too, thanks to their striking golden color and azure waters.
In recent years, Tinos has experienced a culinary renaissance, with many restaurants gaining nationwide recognition and artisanal microbreweries and wineries winning international awards. A groundbreaking organized movement celebrating the island’s gastronomic traditions, called Tinos Food Paths, puts collaboration and sustainability at its heart.
Whether it’s the picture-perfect village of Panormos, with its narrow cobbled streets and neoclassical houses; or Volax, with its beautifully shaped granite boulders and landscape, or the picturesque natural port of Kambos, each of the island’s more than 50 scenic villages has its own charm and beauty. Iconic cycladic architecture, blue-domed churches and dovecotes are common features, but there are many nuances that distinguish each of the villages. Take for example, the savory myzithra cheese, mouthwatering meat products (sissera or syglina and louro), marinated artichokes and the massive ’fourtalia’ omelettes. They are all part of the authentic cuisine that you can taste at any restaurant on the island.
In a world where mass tourism is often associated with loss of local culture, Tinos has forged an unusually strong bond between its landscape and its people. It retains a unique number of traditional Cyclades villages where white-painted houses tightly packed like sugar cubes cluster along cool car-free lanes. They are decorated with pretty marble features – old carved doorways (Xinara House has many 18th century examples) and fountains. It also has a granite landscape with unexpected shapes around Volax and Falatados, stone huts where shepherds still keep their flocks and animal pens that were once used for the breeding of pigeons which was an important source of protein and fertiliser. Its dozens of handmade trails trace ancient country roads through unexpected landscapes.
Religious faith is a dominant feature of the island, and you’ll see churches everywhere. You can take part in the yearly pilgrimage to the Dormition of Mary on August 15 when many believers walk or crawl to the church on their hands and knees. Other ecclesiastical traditions you can experience include the Epitaphios processions on Good Friday in Chora, where six epitaphs are taken to the beach of Vathy Kladaki and the priest chants a memorial for seafarers lost at sea.
There are plenty of other festivals and events too. You can enjoy traditional cuisine in a range of tavernas and restaurants, try the locally produced honey at the apiary and raki distillery and dance until the early hours at one of the many parties held on the island.
Visiting Tinos means to experience the unique spirit of this island. The fascination of Tinos lies in the hinterland and its nature, in the preserved villages with stone cells and dovecotes, the 750 churches and chapels, and in the excellent network of old paths that cross the island. The otherworldly landscape of Volax, surrounded by huge round granite boulders is simply unforgettable.
The most renowned church of Tinos is the Church of Panagia Evangelistria, a grand Orthodox church that attracts devout worshippers from all over Greece, and the miraculous icon is said to have healing powers. But the real treasure of Tinos is its countless other chapels and churches that are equally impressive in their own way.
Visit Arnados, the oldest village of Tinos, with amphitheatre architecture on the mountain slopes, medieval arches and cobblestone alleys, churches and museums. Discover the monastery of Kehrovouni, one of the most beautiful monasteries in Greece. Enjoy raki distillation season in Falatados, the largest village of Tinos, with its 19th century windmills and see the church of Agia Triada, the largest temple on the island. Explore the picturesque village of Hysternia with its entire church that is an exquisite sample of fine marble sculpture.
In the little picturesque village of Volax you can visit a few cozy tavernas and cafes with large round granite mysterious rocks that encircle the town. The few inhabitants of Volax are basket weavers and you can watch them working at their traditional occupation, while you can also purchase a unique handmade souvenir.