Tinos. The last jewel in the crown of Venice (book)
Tinos. For how many days?
You are staying in Tinos for five days?!’ Said the middle-aged lady in the hotel restaurant to Fani, a member of our hiking group. ‘What are you going to do here for five entire days? You will visit the Virgin Mary, you will eat a galaktoboureko at Pyrgos, and then what?’
She couldn’t imagine that, for us, five days would not be enough to discover the most misunderstood island of the Cyclades. And yet, it is the most visited one. It has more visitors annually than Mykonos and Santorini, its world-famous neighbours. It seems incredible, but it has a simple explanation.
Almost all visitors who flock to Tinos do as our astonished hotel acquaintance: they go for a pilgrimage to the most celebrated religious destination of Greece: Megalochari, the Virgin Mary of the Great Grace.
They usually descend from the ship and go immediately to the church. After the necessary time in it, a short stop at one of the main avenue’s shops to buy a souvenir, usually the icon of their favourite saint.
And then back to the boat and to Piraeus, after a 5-hour trip. Often without spending the night on the island, in order to minimise the cost.
Megalochari, the Virgin Mary of the Great Grace, on its celebration day, 25th of March. The greatest pilgrimage of Greece
A little beyond Megalochari
The most adventurous ones go as far as making the classic short tourist trip. First, a visit to the convent of Kechrovouni, to pay homage to the nun-saint Pelaghia.
In 1823, during the Greek Revolution, Pelaghia said she had a vision. The Virgin Mary revealed to her that an icon of hers was on a hill next to the port. Sure enough, the icon was found there and a sumptuous shrine emerged at the same place immediately afterwards.
The Greeks considered this to be a favourable omen for the outcome of the Revolution. Thus, the icon became the most venerated religious object in Greece.
The best preserved medieval settlement, with no subsequent additions. In fact, it’s the convent of Kechrovouni
The convent of Kechrovouni is like a particularly well tended village
After the convent, perhaps a visit to Pyrgos, the only village known to more than a few people. Apart from its beauty, it owes its fame to its great marble sculptors. They have created some of the best works of art of modern Greece.
There, in the little village square, under the shade of trees, they will taste the famous galaktoboureko mentioned by our acquaintance, a sweet filled with cream.
But even those who venture to Pyrgos, as far as the other end of the island, soon return to their boat. To go back home and be able thereafter to say that they, too, have visited the sacred island.
The rest of the article in this book
About the author
Hello! I am Denis, an architect based in Athens, Greece. I teach history of art and architecture in higher education. That’s one passion of mine. The other one is hiking, in and out of town. If you follow me, I’ll share my discoveries with you.
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