Tinos has long been one of the most Important religious centres in the Greck world. Ever since construction work on the magnificent Church of the Annunciation of the Virgin Mary finally came to an end in 1881, the island has welcomed thousands of pilgrims every year; pilgrims who visit Tinos to come to lay their entreaties before the icon of the Virgin Mary. The Virgin Mary of Tinos is closely linked to the struggle of the Greek nation to liberate from the Turkish yoke (1821-29) and the Italian invasion (1940-41).
The Fifteenth of August, the Feast of the Virgin Mary and a national holiday in Greece, is also the day on which Greece honours the sailors who died when the Elli, a Greek cruiser, was torpedoed in Tinos harbour in August, 1940 by an italian submarine.

For one hundred and seventy-eight years, the Panhellenic Holy Shrine of the Evangelistria, the body responsible for managing "the worship of World Orthodoxy", has been the corner-stone of life on the island, not only because the economic life of Tinos 1s, to a great extent, dependent on the Church of the Virgin Mary, but also because the governing body itself has been behind notable developments in national, social, charitable, and educational spheres.

Most visitors come to Tinos to quickly pay their respects in the Church of the Virgin Mary, but there is so much more to the island than the precincts of its most important church! The island’s interior entrances visitors with its hugely varied landscapes, unique natural environment, and the individuality of its inhabitants. There are very few places on this planet of ours where rugged stone, fertile earth, and salty sea combine so harmoniously in an area covering fewer than two hundred square kilometres.

The first thing visitors notice is the wind. Even before the ferryboat is within sight of Chora - the island’s Capital and its harbour - the visitor can feel the North wind’s furious attempts to strike fear into the heart of the "foreign invader".
Ophiousa, Idrousa, Island of the Winds. The names by which Tinos has been known over the centuries bear witness to its nature: Ophiousa - an abundance of snakes fides, or cedars thides; Idrousa - a place with ample
water; Island of the Winds -the north wind blows and blows!

The first people to inhabit Tinos were Ionians from Caria in Asia Minor. Some say the island got its name from its first settler, Tinos, while others argue that the name the islanders themselves use for their homeland - Ophiousa - comes from the Phoenician word "tanoth" or "tenok", meaning reptile or snake.
Tinos has seen Pelasgians, Ionians, Athenians, Macedonians, Ptolemaeans, and Romans come and go over the millennia. Archaeologists have unearthed Neolithic, Geometric, and Archaic settlements on the Island. Tinian marble was just as famous in antiquity as it is today, and a tradition of stone carving developed on the island. Tinos was also famous for the "Islanders’ Community", a religious centre; its Hellenistic Temple to Poseidon the Healer and Amphitriti, Goddess of Fertility, on the coast at Kionia, a short distance from Chora. The island’s Doric Temple (2nd century BC) was the most important sanctuary for asylum-seekers in the ancient Greek world. Repeated excavations of the site have revealed sections of the shrine-throne, the fountain, the refectory, and the cemetery, as well as imperial stat-ues and Roman baths from the Ist and 2nd centuries AD. A paved road joined the temple with the harbour, where sections of the ancient harbour wall are still vistble, and the fitth-century Classical settlement which stood on what Is now the site of the Church of the Annunciation.
The Tinians owe a great part of their untamed.
indomitable nature to the wind that blows untrammelled above their island. Tinos was the last part of the Greck world to fall to the Ottoman Turks, the islanders enjoy- ing the somewhat more mellow rule of the Venetians between 1207 and 1715. What’s more, when the Turks did finally take the island, they only managed to hold onto it for a hundred years: from 1715 until 1771, and
then again from 1775 until 1821 (the Russians were in charge from 1771 to 1775).
Whoever reigned in name, however, the real rulers of the Aegean were the corsairs, in particular one Khayr Ad-Din Barbarossa. Islanders and Turkish and Venetian garrisons alike lived in constant fear of pirate raids.
The need for the Tinians to build a defensive wall to protect themselves from constant raids by Turks and pirates led them to build villages perched on the mountain side, far from the coast. The houses were built very close together, were separated one from the other by partition walls, and were all of approximately the same height, so should the island find itself under attack, the inhabitants could escape over the flat roofs. Between every two lines of houses was a narrow alleyway, which was sheltered on both sides by the houses’ thick stone walls. In some cases, the road with its countless steps passed below the houses through pointed arches.

The castle - the most heavily fortified in the Cyclades was never captured. Built on a granite outcrop SOWIE 500 metres into the sky, it proved too much for both Ottoman and pirate raiders. A double line of city walls encircled the bare, grey rock, and clustered around the curtain wall were the shops and markets of the island's Venetian capital (Castello). The city folk lived rl twwitahsin the city wails, in what was known as Kastro Kaso besieged eleven times before it finally saurrendered to the Sublime Porte in 1715. To show his respect for their bravery, the Sultan permitted the Tinian garrison to march out with banners raised, while the Ottoman army honoured them. However, the Turks took revenge on the powerful fortifications that had defied them for so long by burning both the city and its walls to the ground. The few inhabitants left on the outcrop built a new village, which they called Exombourgo - which means outside (exo) the castle (Borgo). A section of Cyclopean wall was recently unearthed in the foothills of Exombourgo, between the villages of Tripotamos and Xinara, which dates back to the 12th century BC and the Myceneans. Archaeological finds in the area indicate that the most important settlement on the island during the Prehistoric and Archaic Periods stood close to this spot. This was also the site of the"Thesmoforio", the temple to Demeter and Persephone, her daughter. The stone cross that now stands on the very top of Mount Exombourgo is visible from every piece of high ground on the island. The administrative reforms ushered in by the Kapodistria Law created a new municipality on the island. The Municipality of Tinos and the community of Panormos have now been joined by the Municipality of Exombourgo, a new entity created out of the amalgama-tion of thirty-four villages in the interior of Tinos. The village of Tripotamos is built between three rivers on the foothills of Mount Exombourgo. One of the old-est villages on the island, it is full of arches, steps, arcades, and cobbled alleys. It is here that the Festival of Birth (actel) is celebrated at Christmas, combining the h e Birt (Kayos) is celebr early-Christian and Mediaeval elemeIlls with customs imported from the monks' republic H.c on Mount Athos. The hamlet of Sperados is a continuation of Tripotamos. Ktikados is a traditional village an amazing view of e the sea, arches, whitewashed cobbled streets, and large houses with marble lintels. There are two churches in the village: the Church of the Holy Cross, at the entrance to the village, with its remarkable bell-tower; and the Church of the Panagia Megalom t a a with its unique mar-ble entrance. The old fountain with its stone washhouse adds the finishing touches to this beautiful village. Ktikados is the birth place of Capetan Svetsos. Chatzirados is a small, picturesque village with a view of the sea, paved streets, brilliantly white houses, and gar-dens teeming with flowers. The village is further graced by the Church of the Holy Trinity. Kampos is situated in the centre of the island, in the ver-dant valley it shares with the villages of Komi and Kalloni. Kampos has two churches: the Holy Trinity, with its exceptional pebbled courtyard; and Saint Catherine's, with its beautiful carved wooden rood screen erected in 1770, during the period of Russian rule, in honour of Catherine I of Russia. The traditional washhouse is still in working order.

The village of Tarampados was built around 1700, and boasts a number of archways and the island's most impressive collection of dovecotes. The dovecotes, which spread throughout the island during the period of Venetian rule, were an important source of income for the islanders, who sold both the birds' meat and their droppings. The dovecotes are superlative d local popular architecture, built by Tinian craftsmen an weathered by winds, rain, and salt off the sea. No other island in the Aegean can boast so many or such a variety of dovecotes, and what's more, most of them have been kept in excellent condition by their owners.

Of all the villages on Tinos, Smardakito has hest pre-served its traditional character. A picturesque village with paved roads and well-kept courtyards, its two-storey houses have decorative lintels. The large paved square in front of the Church of Saint Anthony, with its lofty bell-tower, boasts a traditional washhouse with water flowing from an ancient spring. Agios Romanos Bay and the Church of the Virgin of the Vrissi - where local May Day celebrations are held - is in the same area.

Xinara is an old village built in the shadow of Mount Exombourgo. Seat of the Orthodox Bishop of Tinos in Byzantine times, and of the Catholic bishop in later years, Xinara is now the home of the Municipality of Exombourgo. There are two churches in the village: the Panagia Rodariou (1860-1870), at one time the Cathedral of the Catholic Diocese of Tinos; and the Church of Peter and Paul (1836). Both are excellent examples of traditional Tinian architecture. The "Archbishop's Palace", a spacious nineteenth-century building that once housed the seminary, is now home to the Catholic parish archives (the oldest on Tinos) and a museum displaying ecclesiastical relics. Loutra is a village with a long history. The Jesuits builtcon-eir monastery here, and the Ursuline Order their their The Ursuline Order heas active on the island between 1860 and 1940: tw convent school was one of the best schools for girls in Greece. In antiquity, there was a famous spa on the outskirts of the village. The little village of Skalados is built on the mountain-side. It is the birthplace of the nineteenth-century Catholic priest and poet, Nikolaos Perpiniatis. The granite boulders scattered over the Volax plateau are a unique sight, as is the village of Volax itself: its few dazzlingly white houses built flush to huge monoliths, reminders of a volcanic eruption some twenty thousand years ago. Volax is also home to the last remaining bas-ket-weaving workshop on the island. Koumaros is a small traditional village built on the steep, rocky slopes of Mount Fourka in the Tinian interior.

Tzados is a traditional village on the road to Messi. Messi is built on the spot where the five roads leading to the four corners of the island meet.
Kechros is a small, picturesque village with the Church of the Panagia Eleous (Our Lady of Mercy) rising above it. It is a beautiful church with a wonderful dome and a remarkable carved wooden rood screen with four large columns and a huge scalloped upper section. The village is known for its stratourades, the saddle-makers who once flourished here.

Steni, built in the foothills of Mount Tsiknia, is the largest inland village on Tinos. Although the village was once famed for its shoe production, there is nothing in the village to hint at this save a carpet-making school. The churches of Saint Nicholas and Saint Anthony are remarkable buildings, and there are a number of beauti-ful chapels scattered around the surrounding country-side: Faneromeni, Agios Dimitris, and the Kioura ton Angelon (Our Lady of the Angels). Dirt roads lead to wonderful beaches at Santa Margarita, Faneromeni, and the pebble beaches at Agios Dimitris. Myrsini (Mousoulou) is an old village. The triple-aisled Church of the Annunciation of the Virgin is a magnifi-cent piece of architecture. From Myrsini, visitors can head up to the very peak of Tsiknia - considered the home of Aeolus - or head down to Livada in the valley below. There are a cluster of remarkable rock formations at Livada beach which are constantly changing shape as they are eroded by powerful waves rolling in from the sea. The river that until recently crossed the whole of Tinos, flowing through the Exombourgo region, also joins the sea here, forming a wetland habitat that is a magnet for many species of rare birds. Potamia is an isolated village, surrounded by greenery and nestling on the slopes of Tsiknia among gullies bear-ing the running water that once set the local water-mills in motion. The church of the Panagia Karmilon - the Karmelitana - rises high above the centre of the village. A little further down from the village are the beaches of Santa Margarita and Lychnaftia. Falatados is an old village dating back to 1400, built amphitheatrically and facing Kechrovouni. The two highs spots of the village are the marble church reat Joy) Square. of Saint John, and beautiful, Cycladic Megalochari (G  There are a number of working wine-presses and stills in in the village, and the village plays host to a number of festivals during the raki-making season in September. The November "pig slaughter" is another local c ustom. There is also a folklore museum in the villa thegvi e. llage, as Picturesque Psalidi is a short walk from ni. Kakia Skala plays host to a are the boulders at Kapsia large festival every September. The little village of Krokos - named after the crocus - has retained much of its traditional character.

Krokos was home to Markakis Zalonis, the doctor and philoso-pher who wrote a history of Tinos in 1809. Monasti•ia is a small, deserted village whose inhabitants have abandoned it to the ravages of time. The church of Saint Joseph still soars above the derelict houses all around it.
Perastra is built on both banks of the river of the same name, and is set among acres of foliage. The village can boast old stone bridges, handsome water fountains, the ruins of an olive-press, and water-mills. Sklavochorio is the birthplace of N. Gyzi, one of the most significant modern Greek artists. He made his rep-utation in Munich, and left the Greek nation a rich cul-tural heritage. The church of the Holy Trinity is worthy of note, as is the wash-house, which dates from 1828. Perched high on the side of the mountain is the village of Agapi. The village is an architectural gem, with its char-acteristic paved roads, narrow alleyways, superb arch-ways, traditional houses with their unique lintels, and the traditional well with its washing area. There are also a number of dovecotes in the Griza area, with its running water and verdant gullies. The church of Saint Agapitos in also worthy of note. Komi (Peraka) is a large village that owes its name to the count who took the area for his own. The two-metre high inscribed marble column in the churchyard of Saint John's dates from the pre-Christian era. Livadi, the exceptionally fertile valley in which Komi lies, stretches down as far as the wildly beautiful sandy beach at Kolymbithra ("baptistry"), and the small lagoon which is a wetland magnet for swans, ducks and other migratory birds. There is a tiny islet, known as Drakonisi, in the very centre of Kolymbithra Bay. The island looks like a ble proof of Mylon's rise and fall - are now listed build-ings. To the south is the Ysternia(Ammos) Bay, with its amazing sandy beach. An old marble-paved road con-nects the village of Ysternia with its beach. Our stroll around the Municipality of Exombourgo has been a magical journey of discovery. Every single step has revealed beautiful traditional villages, crystal clear seas, sites of immense natural beauty, forest paths, the stone lattice-work of the dovecotes, threshing floors, dry stone walls, caves, round granite boulders, marble foun-tains, cobbled lanes, arches, flight after flight of steps, all finely wrought by wind and human hand. Of awesome, sometimes calm, at times mysterious, the hugely varied environment on Tinos make it an island unique throughout the Aegean.