Two of the most beautiful beaches in Tinos are Livada and Agios Petros. Both of them can only be reached by car, a 4x4 is preferred, however it's really worth all the effort to get there. In Livada you will find a lake with ducks surrounded by trees and big rocks and from the other side is the beach. The landscape is really amazing! We even saw goats that came down the mountain and climbed on the sea rocks!! There is a taverna nearby, so you may grab something to eat if you get hungry. In Agios Petros you must go down some stairs to get to the beach but it is really no big deal. The water has a beautiful turquoise color, just like a swimming pool. There are actually two beaches, you may reach the first when you go down the stairs and the second one is located behind the rocks on the right side. The latter is also less crowded. If you decide to visit Agios Petros don't forget to have some water with you and also something to eat as there are no tavernas or beach bars nearby. It's kind of in the middle of nowhere!
Most visitors of Tinos island don’t like Tinos town because of the ugly architecture near the port. Unfortunately the authorities didn’t push to keep a local style like they did in Mykonos and the area lost its charming comparing to other cycladitic islands.
But if you walk just 100 meters over the port you will get lost in some beautiful small alleys, I’ve seen a picturesque district at the back side of the Archeological museum, admired some nice houses, colors and images so typical in Cyclades, white washed houses with nice inner yards and red flowers upon the walls etc
So, don’t judge of what you see from the port only, old Tinos is hiding at the back alleys that is worth to be explored, ask for Malamatenia, Ai Nikola church and the old districts of Pallada and Agiou Eleytheriu.
If you stand at the port and watch the eastern end you will notice a big rock creating a cape (akrotiri in greek).
It is called Pasakrotiri and offers great view over the town and the port but we never managed to walk there, you know we were drinking coffee every evening saying to each other “ok tomorrow we will go” but we never did :)
On the cape you can see a monument which was built in memory of the local who died during the Balkan wars.
Agios Nikolaos church is a catholic church that used to be an orthodox church until 1715! That year
there was an agreement between orthodox and catholic people to exchange this church with Taksiarchon church that used to be catholic at that time. The church has great history as the first town that we now call Tinos was called Chora of Agios Nikolaos due to this church (it was much smaller that time)
The church is dedicated to Saint Nicholas, patron saint of the seamen, no surprise the people in Tinos has many churches and chapels dedicated to him. Unfortunately, the church was locked during my visit and could check the interior so I just took a bad picture from the window (pic 3)
This church celebrates on December 6.
When I went to visit the Archeological Museum and saw that it wasn’t open yet I spent some time at the near by church of Agios Eleytherios.
According to the sign upon the main gate (pic 2) it was renovated in 1800 but I didn’t find information when it was built.
It’s not an important church I guess but it was early in the morning and there was a mass so it was interesting to be there with some local old people.
Another church that we didn’t have the chance to check the interior was Agios Antonios of Padova.
It was built in 1743 was part of the old monastery of Franciscans. It houses an icon of Antony of Padua that dates from 1736.
The church is dedicated to St.Antony of Padua of course, the Portuguese priest of the Franciscan Order famous all over the world as the Patron Saint for lost articles because he was involved with miracles that had to do with lost objects or people. So if you loose something while in Tinos come here for help!
He is also suppose to protect travels, that’s why he is Patron Saint of sailors in countries like Portugal, Spain, Italy and France. As true VT people we just took a picture of the church to have safe travels :)
Taksiarhon church is another important church in Tinos.
This was the church that housed for temporarily the miraculous icon of Virgin Mary until the new church of Evangelistria was built.
Unfortunately we never managed to get inside no matter the fact that we passed by so many times. The church is located in the area where many cafes, bars and restaurants are so it seems the temptation of a cold beer was always bigger than a desire to check another church :) It’s the same old alley where in the old times the trade of salt and oil was taking place.
The first church was a catholic but in 1715 when the ottomans ruled the area there was an agreement between orthodox and catholic people to exchange this church with Agios Nikolaos that used to be orthodox at that time.
The church was renovated in 1759 (there’s a written sign over the main gate) and it is famous for its 8 meter long wooden/gold temple that was made in Istanbul (18th century) but as I said I didn’t see it myself…
Agios Fokas beach was easily accessible from our hotel so it was the first we tried.
It is located about 1,5km east of the port.
It’s a long beach that has some trees in some parts, something very useful with the sun burning upon us :) Other parts are more organized with parasols, lifeguard and a small snack bar. The beach is much more peaceful than the one at Kiona (2km west of the port) that has much more hotels and restaurants near by. That’s why I don’t have much to write about, we went there for swim and relaxing :)
Tinos Archeological museum is a small but interesting museum that was built in 1960.
It houses items from th island but mainly from the Temple of Dimitra (7th century BC) that was at Exomburgo and from the Temple of Poseidon at Kionia (3rd century BC).
Next to the entrance you can see (pic 2) a marble sundial clock (1st century BC) that was made by Andronikos and was found at the Sanctuary of Poseidon at Kionia, it was used for checking the position of the stars.
The first room houses funerary vases of Geometric period (10th to 8th century BC), daily vases (6th to 2nd century BC) and several small items, and sculptures (heads of Hellenistic statues) (pic 3)
The second room houses grave reliefs from the island
The last room I saw has some amazing huge pithoi (pic 4). They were typical in ancient Greece, large storage containers with detailed reliefs that date from 7th century BC, most of them were founded at the temple of Dimitra. Tinos island had great growth that time with man local workshops specializing on making reliefs on pithoi. These ceramic jars are as high as a human (!), I wonder how they transferred them, they must have been really heavy (about 2 tons!) when full (usually wine, olive oil, or any other fluid and grain). They were very popular everywhere on Mediterranean sea.
Finally I checked the beautiful inneryard (pic 5) where there are many sculptures and other items, most of them from temple of Poseidon at Kionia. There is also a nice mosaic on the floor, it was founded near Evagelistria church.
The friendly lady that was working there was very informative with every question I had. Unfortunately, most Greeks seem to skip the museum on their way to the church, as long as I was there no one else came inside :(
The entrance fee is 2euro
After visiting the two main churches of Evagelistria complex I decided to check the buildings around. First of all there are some side chapels (one dedicated to St. Pelagia and one to Saint Ieronimus) but I guess you would prefer something different now don’t you?
The inner yard is covered with marble, not so impressive as the mosaic at the forecourt. There are also two eraldic lions that supposed to be the guardians of the holy church against evil powers.
There are also some other monuments, statues of bishops and a font (pic 4) called fiali (bottle) where agiasmos (Great Blessing of Waters) takes place on January 6 (feast of theofany, takes place all over Greece, especially near ports, lakes etc). Orthodox Christians don’t bless themselves with holy water but there is always a spot in the church where everyone goes and take some back home.
Next to Zoodochos Pigi church you can see the Mausoleum of Elli (a Hellenic fleet that was bombed by an Italian submarine during the celebration of Evagelistria, on august 15, 1940). You can also visit some small museums:
1.Picture Gallery, with about 100 paintings made by greek painters, mostly portraits so nothing to get excited with
2.Skevofilakio(Sacristy), with numerous religious items, books, icons, crosses, I was too tired to check in detail and got out soon
3.museum of Tenian artists, many items of local artists(Halepas, Vidalis, Doukas, etc), mainly sculptures and paintings, most of them donated to the museum by the artists
4.museum of Antonios Sohos, we didn’t have time for this one but it contains items he donated, mainly made by wood or plaster.
5.Collection of Religius Items and Icons, small collection, mainly with icons from 17th to 19th century but also other religious items
On the east side of you will see a beautiful neoclassical building (pic 1) that dates from the early 20th century used to house a hotel and a hospital in the past. It was renovated by Panellinio Iero Idrima Evagelistrias with main aim to promote the history and culture of the island. Although it has many conference halls and a large library I visited it for the exhibitions.
At the entrance you can see busts of two famous local artists (pics 4-5), one is Giannoulis Halepas(1851-1938) and has his quote “you shouldn’t hurt the marble, you must caress it…”.
The other one is the bust of Nikos Gyzis(1842-1901) with his quote “how nice modesty dresses the spirit”
One floor housing the permanent exhibition which dedicated to the great local sculptor Giannoulis Halepas. Unfortunately photography isn’t allowed on this floor. There was a guide there with great knowledge over Halepas’ life and gave me great information about his work. The collection isn’t big so you will enjoy it without loosing the rest of the town.
Then I went to the next floor where there was a temporary exhibition called “Water & Colours” with paintings made by local amateur artists (pic 2). Some of them were surprisingly good. There was also a smaller room with works made by children (pic 3)
The Entrance fee is 3euro
The exhibition, the library and the internet center are open Monday to Friday 9.00-15.00, Saturday 10.30-14.00
At the end of Megalochari avenue is a small park/square called Alsos Ierou Idrymatos (Grove of Holy Foundation).
It houses the busts of six famous artists from Tinos island (pic 1):
1.Lazaros Sohos (sculptor 1862-1911 from Isternia)
2.Nikiforos Lytras (painter 1832-1904 from Pirgos)
3.Giannoulis Halepas (sculptor 1854-1838 from Pirgos)
4.Nikolaos Gyzis (painter 1842-1901 from Sklavochorio)
5.Dimitrios Filippotis (sculptor 1839-1919 from Pirgos)
6.Georgios Vitalis (sculptor 1840-1901 from Isternia)
But the avenue has some interesting buildings too, the Town Hall, Agios Georgios church (date from 1931), the Archeological Museum, the Eklisiastiko Gymnasium/High School of Tinos (made by D.Pikionis) etc
This is the main road that connects the port with Evagelistria church. It is named after the alternative name of the church which is Megalochari and means (She of Great Grace), a name that the Greeks refer to the miraculous icon that is housed inside the Evagelistria church and the main reason people come to Tinos island, for pilgrimage to this icon.
If you see the avenue has a red corridor on the right, it is there for those who will approach the shrine on hands and knees! Yes, you will see people crawling up the hill slowly, usually praying until they get into the church. I guess it sounds/look strange/weird for the unfamiliar with this old orthodox custom, obviously it’s an unusual form of devotion, men and women do this for two reasons, either for asking for something (normally a serious health issue) or for giving thanks for blessing received.
If you see this try to show respect, if you really need a picture take one from a distance and obviously don’t show their face on web.
At the end of the avenue, just before the entrance to Evagelistria complex you can see a statue of a crawling pilgrim (pic 3) that stretches the hand towards the church.
People come to Tinos to pray and ask help from Virgin Mary on several issues that have to do with serious health problems but also those who wait for a child. Many promise to Virgin Mary that if the child will come they will visit Tinos to baptize it here. So, it’s no surprise every Sunday there are a lot more people visiting Tinos. The baptism usually takes place at Zoodochos Pigi church right under Evagelistria church.
On july 23, 1822 Sister Pelagia, a local nun from Kechrovounio monastery had a vision of Virgin Mary. Excavations for the icon started on the spot she suggested but nothing was found until autumn 1822 when the remains of a byzantine temple(Agios Ioannis Prodromos) and an old dry well was found.
At New Years Eve water came out of the dry well, the fact was considered as a miracle and they decided to build a church there and named it Zoodochos Pigi church which means Life-giving Font. The church is also called Evreseos church (finding)
There is a small hole covered with silver on the spot that the icon was founded and next to it a marble font that water flows, called Holy Water by the church and the faithful ones. That’s why you see people holding small bottles to fill them. Orthodox Christians don’t bless themselves with holy water but there is always a spot where everyone goes and take back home.
It was interesting inside, there are 3 different baptism places and two confessional spots. There is also a small part of the old wall of the byzantine temple of Agios Ioannis. There’s a big font where the baptisms take place but if you go down the steps you will a marble font where catholics, protestants and muslim people are baptized.
Although there are many churches in Tinos this is by far the most famous. People from all over Greece travel to Tinos for pilgrimage at the miraculous 800 years old icon of Virgin Mary that was founded in Tinos (January 30, 1823) after a vision of a local nun (Sister Pelagia) had in summer of 1822. The church was started to built in 1823 on the spot where the icon was found and became a major Marian shrine like any other site which usually spots on miracle connected with Blessed Virgin Mary (for the catholics similar sites are Our Lady of Lourdes in France, Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico etc)
When I was young I was confused with the name of the church and even today if you ask a greek he will name the church Panagia Megalochari (She of Great Grace), Panagia Evagelistria (Virgin Mary bringer of Good News) or just Panagia tis Tinou (Our Lady of Tinos)
If you want to avoid the mass you better visit late in the evening or during the weekdays. In Sundays it gets really crowded because there are many people that come here for their child’s baptism. Of course you can not imagine how crowded it can get on august 15 when is the celebration of Kimisi tis Theotokou (Dormition of Theotokos, the falling asleep of the Mother of God) similar to catholic assumption of Virgin Mary, the difference is that Orthodox Christians believe that her soul and body received by Christ after her natural death while Catholicism talks about entering heaven alive.
Anyway, that day it’s impossible to find a ferry ticket to Tinos so plan ahead. Other dates that the church gets packed is on January 30 (anniversary of the date that the icon was found), march 25 when is the celebration of Annunciation to the Blessed Virgin Mary, it’s called Evangelismos in greek, means something like "spreading the Good News", july 23 (anniversary of Sister Pelagia’s vision)
We walked up Megalocharis avenue and before we enter the main gate we admired the mosaics of the forecourt (pic 2). Once inside the complex you see people lighting candles on the right or visiting some of the different chapels, churches or museums and galleries inside. Of course most of the people go directly to Evagelistria church. Sometimes there’s a line with people waiting patiently to see and kiss the icon of Virgin Mary.
You can see several different icons inside but the most impressive is to see the tamata (votive offerings usually made by silver or gold) that people have brought here as the icon is believed to be a source of numerous miracles. People come here and give a tama in gratitude for a prayer answered by Virgin Mary or as a reminder of a particular need (usually a health issue), you can see them hanging, most of them made by gold.
Not much else to do inside, photo isn’t allowed so unless you plan to worship the icon you can spend your time at the other buildings (see next tips). Don’t forget that this is a religious area, dress appropriate and respect those who have come here to pray.
On the top of Megalocharis avenue, overlooking the town and the port