+ Cycladia Travel Guides | History

Tinos Island Name
Tinos owes its name to its first inhabitant “Tinos”. Tinos was the leader of an Ionian team that came to the island from Asia Minor. However, some say that “Tinos” came from the word of the Phoenicians “Tenok” which means snake. In the past, it was also called “Ophiousa” (“ophis” means snake in Greek), because of the large number of snakes on the island, and also “Hydrousa” because of the plethora of running waters.
Prehistoric times
Although it is widely believed that the island’s first inhabitants were Ionians in the 12th century B.C., there are signs of inhabitance in the 3rd millennium B.C. by Karians too. Prehistoric findings include shells located in the Vryokastro region.
Ancient Times
Ionians came to Tinos around 1130 B.C. and the ancient years were a period of prosperity, with impressive works being constructed. The most astonishing of them is the aqueduct of Peisistratus, which was finalized in 542 B.C. and was the main water supply system of Hora until 1934 A.C. Furthermore, Tinos assisted Athens in the Persian wars and the trireme of Panaitios joined the Greek naval force right before the Salamina naval battle, which led to Tinos name being written on the respective tripod at Delphi. Tinos was consecutively dominated by the Macedonians, the Ptolemaists and, at the end of the ancient era, by the Romans. Two ancient Greek authors have written about Tinos: Aristotle wrote “The State of the Tinians” and Ainissidimos “Tiniaka”; but both works have been lost.
Byzantine Times
Tinos was very often attacked by Saracens, Arabs, Goths and Ottomans during the Byzantine years, which led to the island’s decline. The situation further deteriorated due to earthquakes and plagues, the worst of which lasted 52 years and diminished the island’s population to a great extent. During this period, many inhabitants left the island seeking for better life conditions.
Venetian Times
The year 1204 was among the most important years in the history of the island, since it was bought by two brothers, Andrew and Jeremiah Ghisi, who were aristocrats from Venice. Tinos was governed by Venetians until 1715 and the large number of Catholics on the island goes back to that period. Venetians protected Tinos by organizing the fortress of Exomvourgo (or Xombourgo) that used to be the island’s capital at the time.
The Ottoman Period
Tinos is probably the only region in Greece that had such a brief period of Ottoman domination in the 18th century. In 1715, Janoum Hodge came with more than 25,000 men and 45 ships, and occupied the island. This generated astonishment in Venice, since Tinos was known as a very powerful region with excellent defense, which was considered impenetrable. So, the island’s governor was accused of bribery and was condemned to death (he was poisoned). The Turkish dominance ended in 1770, and during that period the island’s capital was transferred to Hora.
The Russian period
Despite the fact that the Russians dominated Tinos for only 4-5 years, they restructured the island’s defense and renovated the Kechrovounio monastery and built the Saint Catherine’s Church, while they destroyed many Catholic churches and monasteries.  
Recent history

Tinos was the first Cycladic Island to participate in the Greek revolution on March 31, 1821, and, more specifically, the revolution initiated at the village of Pyrgos. The most important historic event of Tinos in the recent years is the miraculous finding, in 1823, of the Orthodox image of Virgin Mary after the vision of nun Pelagia concerning its position. The image finding was followed by the construction, from 1823 to 1831, of the Church devoted to Virgin Mary.  This Church of unique architecture is a meeting point for Christians from all over the world, with many miracles being recorded and many precious items being gifted to the Church as a token of gratitude to Virgin Mary. The years that followed the completion of the Church were years of culture and artistic expression, with Tinos being the home town of many Greek artists.

On August 15, 1940, the Italian fleet torpedoed the Greek ship “Elli” in the port of Tinos, on the day of the local festival and religious celebration. The foundation of the Church donated, then, all its precious items to the Greek state for the provision of guns and supplies to the Greek army during the Albanian war.

Today, Tinos is one of the most important islands in Greece, attracting a large number of tourists, not only because of its grandiose church, but also thanks to its diverse landscapes, wonderful beaches, historic monuments and natural beauty. The island remains among the regions in Greece that are considered centers of culture, with sculpture and painting being developed and used even as part of the architecture.

Among the numerous Tinian artists are included world renowned painters like Nikolaos Gizis, Nikiforos Lytras, Nikolaos Gaitis (also a sculptor) and Frangiskos Dessypris, and famous sculptors like Giannoulis Halepas, Demetrios Filippotis, Lazaros Lameras and the Vitalis brothers.

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