Tinos, Greece

Sep 26, 2017 - Sea Cloud

We are at anchor just outside the port and the main town of Tinos which is the last island we are visiting. No one is happy to see the cruise coming to an end. We would like to sail on.

Anyway, the seas are calm and the weather is perfect. Everybody is ready to enjoy this last day. Our tenders dropped us at the pier where the monument of “Elli” was standing from 1940 when this Greek battleship was torpedoed by the Italians on the great festival held in honor of Feast of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary.

We boarded the busses and began our way toward the town of Pyrgos. The scattered little villages, the terraced landscape, the many churches, and the cows and goats grazing formed a picturesque vignette of this different and quieter world. Tinos is also known for its dovecotes, and our driver stopped on the way to give us a chance to take a picture of the small valley filled with the tiny houses. Dating from the Venetian times, each one competed in beauty.

After an hour, we reached the small town of Pyrgos, so called an “artistic” town because many of the famous Greek artists of the 19th and 20th centuries were from here. The north of Tinos is rich in marble, so many of the artists were sculptors. There is still a school of fine arts in this town and many shops with beautiful souvenirs. We walked through the narrow little streets to the main square which was covered with the shade of an enormous and ancient plane tree. The cafes on the square gave us the chance to feel like “locals” by occupying the tables and ordering the local sweets or the different “freddo” coffees. The “galaktoboureko” (custard pie) was the number one specialty of the day. We took many pictures, and explored the little shops on the way back to the bus which was waiting at the main bus station made entirely of local white marble!

Driving back to the main port we admired the spectacular views of the Aegean Sea. the surrounding terraced fields, and the ancient walls which seem to go on forever.

Our bus dropped us in front of the Church of the Virgin Mary known all over Greece for its miraculous icon of the Annunciation. The church was built in the 1820s at the place where the icon was found. They call Tinos the “Lourdes” of Greece, and people come from all over the country for the big festival of the Assumption on August 15th. Sick people especially ask the Virgin Mary to give them back their health. Traditionally people who are cured offer a gift to the church. As we entered the church, we saw the icon resting on a custom marble stand, surrounded by hundreds of gifts hanging on special chains connecting the columns of the church.

Altogether, the people, the candles, the decorations, and the incense created a special atmosphere. After the visit, we had some time to stroll around for photos and souvenirs. We have one last sailing afternoon before we disembark in Piraeus. Let’s enjoy it. 

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About the Author

Ellie Charalambous

Cultural Specialist

National Geographic expert Ellie Charalambous is a native of Athens, Greece. She graduated from The Greek National Tourism Organization’s Guide School and also studied at the National Theatre Drama School. She is currently continuing her studies at the Pandio University of Social and Political Sciences.

About the Photographer

Erika Skogg

National Geographic Photographer

Erika Skogg is a photographer, educator, and National Geographic Explorer with experience documenting cultural stories from the United States to Morocco, Greenland, Iceland, Colombia, and beyond. Born and raised in Wisconsin, Erika’s photographic research and storytelling ideas are driven by the desire to immerse, understand, and visually preserve the region’s local Nordic culture, and in 2018, Erika received a National Geographic Early Career Grant for her project “Scandinavian American.” Erika travels to Scandinavia regularly in search of the cultural connections to our emigrant history and promote an interest in one’s own genealogy to foster a respect for the continued immigration of today.

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