Standing at nearly 1000 years old, the ancient Greek island of Tinos is one of the best-kept secrets in the Cyclades. Kept open all year round by a constant stream of visiting pilgrims, Tinos is kept alive and vibrant even in the depths of winter, making it just as perfect for the art-minded modern travelling pilgrim, too.
In antiquity, Tinos was well known as a sacred place in the eastern Mediterranean, visited frequently for its temples of Poseidon and Dionysos. Today, Tinos is a palpably devout Greek island with an astonishing 700+ Orthodox and Catholic whitewashed churches and hilltop monasteries throughout its impressive 60 villages. Almost every house has a church, all facing west and while many parochial churches were built during the Byzantine era, Tinos boasted a special agreement with the Ottoman authorities, once the land was conceded to them by the Venetians. The locals could build as many churches as they felt necessary - the family chapel a given. Dedicated to patrons, saints, sea-gods, and the holy orders, the little churches are as familiar to the islands' culture as the famous “Peristeriones” - stone-built dovecoats.
Of course, the ecclesial highlight is the fabulous Panagia Evangelistria, the most holy church in Greece which houses the ‘Miraculous Icon of Virgin Mary’. In the Greek Orthodox religion, the Icon is considered to be the protector of all of Greece. In June of 1822 at the nunnery of Kechrovounion, a nun by the name of Pelagia had a series of visions of the Holy Virgin. Mary instructed Pelagia to inform the elders of Tinos village that they were to begin excavations in an uncultivated field, where they would find a sacred icon. Excavations began and on January 30, 1823, a worker digging in the soil discovered the icon called Panagia Evangelistria, meaning Our Lady of Good Tidings.
Set high in a mountainside village, at 650 meters above sea level affording fantastic views down to the coast, is The Monastery of Kechrovouni, otherwise known as the Joy of the Angels. This Monastery is dedicated to the Dormition of Virgin Mary and was founded by daughters of a wealthy family of Tinos in the 11th or 12th century.
It is a complex, which includes the main church, smaller churches, as well as auxiliary buildings and the nuns’ cells. This is the monastery where Aghia Pelaghia led an ascetic life and had the vision of the Virgin Mary, telling her about Her miraculous icon.
Tinos’ residents appear to lead lives of singular peace and quietness, but don’t be fooled, for they carry with them incredible traditions from their ancient Greek past.
For a truly escapist, eco-lux design abode, we highly recommend Diles and Rinies Tinos Hotel and Villas, on the southern tip of the island, a Greek haven scented with wildflowers, orange trees and perched on the shore of the Aegean itself.
For more on sun-kissed Mediterranean dens of stylish sensibilities, have a peek at our Unwaxed Lemons Edit, and for more on artwork rooted in rustic locality - Miró's tiny art studio in Mallorca is a lovely spot for a browse.