The island of art & beauty
Tinos, the island of art and beauty, harbours architectural and artistic treasures, which make it an enormous museum of folk art. Nature endowed it not only with an abundance of suitable materials, such as green and white marble, slate and granite, but also with a rare environment that unquestionably stimulates artistic feeling.
Due to this geographical position, one can see the surrounding Cycladic islands and enjoy golden sunrises and purple sunsets. Artists have also been inspired by a wide variety of historical subjects that reflect the island’s Catholic and Orthodox past and present.
The Villages of Tinos
There is a substantial number of villages which are like most villages in Cyclades all white, most of them look as if they have climbed the mountains and others as if they are safely hidden in the valleys away from pirates and corsairs. These villages, which are considered to be the model of the Cycladic architecture, are characterized by picturesque arches, underground floors, streets paved with flagstones and yards full of bloomed flowers, churches and small fountains. The majority of these villages have been proclaimed traditional by the Greek ministry.
Tinian villages, built on mountain sides to protect them from the elements, have a main central street, leading to the square with its marble village pump, a coffee store and the church. Some have a small folk museum exhibiting domestic artifacts donated by the villagers themselves.
Chapels and Bell Towers of Tinos
Over 1000 private chapels with uniquely varied architecture are spread all over the Tinos island, expressing a combination of beauty and religious faith.
Tinos constitutes a unique place in the world of ecclesiastical architecture where the sensibility of the folk soul of Cyclades reached its peak using Eastern and Western techniques in an incomparable way.
With local materials and loving care, the Tinian folk craftsman build churches that are truly works of art. Further more, the bell towers of Tinos seduce one both with their majesty and their simplicity. Some are exceptionally ornate and others exceptionally spare, whether of marble or not.
Windmills and Dovecotes at Tinos
One can also admire at Tinos about 1000 pigeon houses (dovecotes), which are masterly constructed. Two floored buildings, skilfully decorated in different ways, having used a wide variety of patterns by small pieces of slates. What one can also admire are the windmills of Tinos. When during the Venetian occupation wheat was intensely cultivated on the island for the feeding of a population triple its present size, there were more than 80 windmills in operation, built of local stone of Cyclades which also ground the wheat of the surrounding islands, going back to pre-Christian times. Quite a few of them were still in operation as recently as 20 years ago.
Today the last remaining owners of the windmills at Tinos are thought to be the best amateur meteorologists as they have amassed centuries of local weather forecasting experience. During the Second World War the island millers, as the risk of their lives, offered an important service to the population that was suffering from hunger, by secretly making flour at night to fulfil the needs of the inhabitants. The mills, of which there are only a few left today, are also examples of the skill of the folk Cycladic craftsman.
Remnants of the bygone era, the presence of the windmills justifies the relationship of Tinos island to Aeolos, while the watermills are connected to the old name of “Ydrousa”, revealing the abundance of water and springs.