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Back to Tinos town & the villages

Η Χώρα της ΤήνουThe history of the harbor-city (Chora), the Capital of Tinos, begins in antiquity. Its present form came about during the period between the years 1715 and 1745. As mentioned in the historical references of the previous pages, peace, prosperity and mainly the ending of pirate incursions made it possible to establish a city at the port. During the 6th century BC the ancient “City” was founded near the place where the Cathedral of Virgin Mary is standing now, precisely on the location named “Poles” today. The inhabitants were divided into 12 clans/tribes.

The Capital stayed on the same location until the Byzantine years, when, due to invasions, its inhabitants sought the assurance of the rock of Xomburgo, once more. The most important remains of the Ancient City glory are the walls that spread over the temple of Virgin Mary, (In fact, a Hellenistic tower has been excavated, but unfortunately it still remains under the belt highway, surrounding the city), the aqueduct of Peisistratus, which has been providing water until recently, and the Sanctuary of Poseidon and Amphitrite in “Kionia”.

From ancient descriptions, we learn about the existence of important features: the sanctuary of Dionysus and the theatre, where the famous Games “The Donysians”, were held, the “prytaneum”, the ancient “agora” and the “gymnasium”. Unfortunately, all these and many more are still lying under the new City. From the book by the ancient philosopher Aristotle called “Tinian Republic” (which, unfortunately, hasn’t been rescued), we can deduct that the ancient city was organized and well known.

To Ηρώο των Πεσόντων των Βαλκανικών πολέμωνthe establishment of today’s City coincides with the abandonment of the Castle. “The city of S. Nicholas”, as the capital was named, due to the homonymous church at the port, took its final form after the immigration of people from Crete, Eubia and elsewhere. The inhabitants of “Chora” got into commerce, restraining the farmers to the villages of the hinterland. Under a limited period of time, Tinos was one of the best mercantile islands. Among the items Tinos exported were wine, leather, silk, figs and many more local products. The Tinian merchant vessels reached the West, Asia Minor, and the Black Sea. Until the revolution of 1821 Tinos had over 30 large business establishments. After the slaughtering of the people in Chios, Kydonies (1822) and in Psara (1824), the number of the city’s habitants increased considerably, as crowds of refugees reached the island. The inhabitants of the City (Chora) continued to deal with commercial activities, although in a smaller range.
Δρόμος της ΧώραςDuring a short period of time Tinos, along with nearby Syros, was distinguished in the import and export trade, though soon, Tinos leaves the precedence to Siros. The migration of many residents of the City to other countries contributed to this. This emigration left an open space that was soon covered by inhabitants of the island’s villages. The finding of the Annunciation Icon in 1823 was the most important incident for the island (mainly for the City), its name and its economy. It has attracted, and continues to attract believers and visitors from all over Greece and abroad. Thereby the economy of the island, apart from shipping and commerce of agricultural products, depends on commercial activity (especially in the Capital) that has to do with the influence the image has over its audience. The waterfront harms the beauty of the Capital but, behind the façade, the old City of Tinos is patiently waiting and invites every visitor to walk and explore it. Besides the church of Virgin Mary, which stands out at the highest point of the City and the museums around it, the tourist should consider visiting the archaeological museum at The Virgin Mary Avenue and the important Library of Virgin Mary with thousands of books, just behind the museum. Furthermore, a walk in the "old road" which leads to the church, offers pleasure, with the innumerable little shops and all kinds of souvenirs and the old "Kato Vrissi" (a marble fountain, dating as back as the City itself).

Something else that is enticing is the exploration of the City’s traditional alleys. In fact, every visitor is advised to walk through the alleys around the churches of “Malamatenia”, Saint Nicholas the Catholic, and The Three Hierarchs, but also the old neighborhoods of Pallada and Saint Eleftherios. Enjoy the picturesque paths with the white houses and the spruce gardens with flowers in bloom and the eye-catching jasmine bushes, arresting time and reminding us of old times. The Church of the Angels (Taxiarchs) near the port is also very interesting, because it hosted temporarily the image of the Annunciation, after its finding and until its transfer to the Temple of Virgin Mary. The alley where music bars are located today has been a commercial center, where the monopoly of fuel and salt had been going on sometime in the past. The monument of “Elli”, which has been erected at the port recently, was designed and constructed by the local sculptor N. Paraskevas. Its stature is defying any weather conditions, by giving a new dimension to the sinking of the historical cruiser. Another interesting destination is the weaving-workshop in “Chora” which is found on the old road with the shops. There, you can admire the traditional handmade embroidery, but also observe Tinian women working on the weaving-loom.

A City of Tinos visit can not exclude the imposing building of the Tinian Culture Institution, at the far end of the port. A little further, at the eastern side of the port there is the “Pasakrotiri”- cape, an imposing rock, with a unique view of both the sea and the rest of the island. By standing up there, you can have a complete view of the City. The monument in honor of the warriors lost in the Balkan Wars, is built on thiΟ πελεκάνος της Τήνου, ο Μάρκοςs cape. For curious visitors, and especially for those who are History and Archeology amateurs, a stroll near the ancient town walls, which spread behind the Temple of Virgin Mary, is a special destination, amidst the natural scenery. Finding accommodation and entertainment in the town of Tinos is an easy matter. There are many hotels and rooms to let, of any class, in every neighborhood. The public services (Police, Hospital, Citizen Service Center, Cultural Center) accommodate the public. There are also innumerable taverns, traditional restaurants, but also restaurants for more demanding tastes, everywhere. Apart from those, there are plenty of cafeterias, bars, confectioneries and traditional coffee-houses.

The Cultural Institution of TinosΤο Ίδρυμα Τηνιακού Πολιτισμού στην Τήνο
It was founded in 2002 and it is housed in a historical neo-classical building among the island's most important (beginning of the 20th century), which has also functioned as a hotel and a Hospital (called “Polymereio”, after its donator). It was bought in 1977 and was recently renovated with funds provided by the Greek Holly Institution of the Annunciation that maintains and operates it, making it an adornment of the City. The Institution's mission is to study and promote Tinos history, culture and tradition. It incorporates modern conference and exhibition rooms, but also a library with books concerning Tinos and the Cyclades in general. Several exhibitions and cultural events take place there. There is also a permanent exhibition of the work of the great sculptor of Tinos, Giannoulis Halepas.

The tourist market of Tinos
Η τουριστική αγορά της ΤήνουAn errantry in the town of Tinos is incomplete without strolling through the old street, leading from the port to the temple of Virgin Mary. Here, time has stopped a long time ago and the scenery reminds us of the markets of Constantinople and Cairo. The numerous shops, smaller or bigger, have their merchandise outstretched on the tiled pavement in front. They are filled with the voices of the colorful crowd and the passers by, who are drawn to it and can hardly “step out of this fairytale”. Here you can find any kind of Tinian souvenir. Small and big icons, local embroidery, jewelry and strings of beads, traditional confectionery and whatever one wishes is in front of the eyes of the passer-by who, in many cases, is invited by the shopkeeper to stay and see them. As we are approaching the temple of Virgin Mary, outdoor wooden kiosks sell mostly wax candles in every size, oblations, dedications and small bottles for the holy water to be stored in, while smells of burning incense fill the air. There are souvenirs for every taste and wallet.

The holy ceremony of the burial of Christ (sepulchral tradition)Το έθιμο των Επιταφίων στην Τήνο
The interest of the crowds of believers is drawn by the circumambulation of the sepulchral on Good Friday in the Town of Tinos. After the evening Mass, the five parish churches’ sepulchral processions, each one parading slowly, meet at “Pantanassa” square, by the waterfront. Each flower-decorated sepulchral, is being escorted by its parishioners. The sepulchral of the Virgin Mary church is left unadorned, because it differs and has only wood-carved details. Emerging from different roads, they ascend on the marble platform. After they chant the “eulogy”, each single procession, accompanied by the parishioners, goes back to the church it belongs. There is an exception, though: the sepulchral procession of Saint Nicholas, wanders to the nearby coast of “Kalamia”. There, along with the priest, they get into the water and make an invocation for the well-being of seamen. This tradition is recent, dating back to the 80’s.

The Taxiarchs’ churchΟ ναός των Ταξιαρχών στην Τήνο
The metropolitan church of the Taxiarchs (Angels) is in “Pallada”. The first small church was Catholic. In 1715, during the Turkish dominance on Tinos, after an agreement between the Catholic and the Orthodox dogmas, an exchange was made between this church and Saint Nicholas’s which until then was an Orthodox church. Thus, the Taxiarchs became Orthodox and Saint Nicholas, Catholic. This church was renovated in 1759, as shown on the engraved inscription over the entrance of the church. The renovation was carried out by “Meletius” the archbishop of Tinos, with the contribution of the Orthodox people of Tinos. The church is considered a museum of Post- Byzantine Art, mostly due to the wooden gilded chancel - screen and its icons. According to common belief, the chancel- screen was constructed in Constantinople in the 18th century, following both Byzantine and baroque tradition. It is considered as one of the most beautiful chancel screens (8 meters long), because it is embellished with perforations, making it look like fine lace, giving a flimsy effect between the surrounding icons. This adds gracility and delicacy to the entire work of art. The various elements portrayed are framed by plants and flowers, eagles and doves, lions and other animals, weaving an intricate pattern. All the above, as well as the fact that the church lodged the image of the Annunciation during the period when the Church of the Virgin Mary was under construction, makes this church special and attracts many visitors.

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