History of Tinos
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The name’s origin

Tinos got its name from King Tino, the first resident of the island and chief of a group of Ionians from Karia of Asia Minor, which first inhabited the island during pre-history. A local tradition ascribes the name to princess Tinos. Subsequent reports want the island to have been also named as “Hydroussa”, due to the multitude of sources and waters on the place, but also “Ofioussa”or “Fidoussa”, from the big number of snakes (fidia) existing. According to some scholars, the last appellation has been wrongly interpreted, due to the fact that “Fides” or “Efides” is some kind of cedar, that was growing on the island (today we can find it only in the area of Panormos), and not reptiles. The special status this plant holds in the life of the Tinians can be ascertained by its wide use in buildings, like houses and stables, since it is solid and resistant to termites and dampness.

In ancient times, Aristophanes referred to Tinos as “Skordoforos” for its prime quality garlic (Skordo), Callimachus refers to it as “Agathousa”, Aristoteles as “Hydrousa”, and from Demosthenes and Echinus comes the appellation “Erousa”. Today, Tinos is also called “The island of Aeolus” because of its strong northern winds.


Tinos "carries" its myths and traditions just like every other place in Greece.

The mountain “Tsiknias”, the highest peak of the island (714 m), is connected to mythology. In ancient times it was called "Girai Petrai" (old rocks) or “Gyros”, due to the “Gyraieis”, one of the twelve tribes of Tinos, who inhabited the southern slopes of the mountain. According to Appollodorus, after the campaign of the Argonauts, “Argo” anchored near the island and both Children of “Borias” (Northern) and “Oritheias”, “Zitis” and “Kalain”, found shelter on this mountain. Hercules was infuriated because “Borias” strangled his friend “Ila”, with his winds, so he chased them, killed them, and buried them separately in this place. It is said that when their father, “Borias”, found out about this, he mourned and, because of his great anger, let the winds free on the island to blow with rage until today.

Another myth is based on the poems of “Homer”. “Odyssey” narrates that “Ajax” (Aias from Lokrid) returned from “Troy” and was shipwrecked on the Tinos coasts. Due to the fact that he committed “hybris” (meaning disrespect) against “Poseidon”, the god killed him on “Tsiknias”. Other ancient sources report that, in the same area, God Aeolus or ”Borias” was worshipped and the believers had founded a sanctuary and a thorp there. It is also said that “Tsiknias” inherited its name from the word “tsikna” (the smell from roasting meat) when the animals were being sacrificed in honor of the God. The abundance of vases and pottery on the site is a proof of this version.

The relationship between the mountain, “Borias” and “Aeolus” is so tight, because of the fact that the mountain is usually cloudy and its peak is often hidden behind thick fog.

Historical Retrospective

Tinos, as proved by archaeological findings, has been inhabited since pre-history.

It is one of the Greek islands that present signs of continuous inhabitation.

According to tradition, the first dwellers were the “Kares” and the “Leleges”.

The oldest remains found on the island are on a hill called “Vriocastro”or “Vrecastro”. Human settlement, starting during the age of Copper, or the First Cycladic Age is documented by pottery that has been found in the area, which was later fortified during the middle age of copper, or the Middle-Cycladic Age (2300-1600 BC). Generally, during that era, the phenomenon of the population concentrating on a strategic spot was often encountered, like in “Vriocastro”.

As the domical grave of St. Thecla proves, (situated near the village of Pirgos, and dating from the 13th century BC) the history of the island continues through the Mycaenan Age. During the period of the “Dark Centuries” (12th-10th century BC), piracies and invasions made by the “Nations of the Sea” are being observed all over the Mediterranean. These attacks were avoided by moving the human settlements to places that are natural strongholds.

The Cyclopean Wall is dated during this period of time, in "Xomburgo". The Geometric Period remains (9th- 8th century BC) are to be found near the village of "Kardiani", specifically in some excavated tombs- otherwise called “Geometrical Necropolis”- as well as other antiquities that have been discovered. During the early ancient years (7th century BC), the centre of the island is transferred to "Xomburgo". From the excavations of N. Kontoleon, in the middle of the last century, the most important finding that came into light is the sanctuary of the “Great Goddess” called Demetra, later on (Ceres) and the large relief-adorned jars that were found inside it. After the end of this unstable era and the invasions, Tinos -along with most places in Greece-, transferred its centre, from the naturally fortified Xomburgo, to a more open location.

During the later ancient years (6th century BC), as well as the Classic Period, the Capital of the island is detected at a lower location by the sea, around the present Temple of Virgin Mary. Worth mentioning, among the important masterpieces of this period, is the Peisistratus Aqueduct of “Linopi” (constructed during 549-542 BC), which provided water to the harbor town (Chora) until 1934, as well as Poseidon’s and Amphitrite’s’ Sanctuary at “Kionia”, a site dedicated to their worship.

This was the only sanctuary in the Cyclades, dedicated to the God of the Sea. Furthermore, under a certain period of time, the God was worshipped also as a healer in Tinos. In 338 BC, Philip II conquered the Cyclades, and after the death of Alexander the Great, Antigonus and later Ptolemy (King of Egypt) ruled in Tinos. After 300 BC, Tinos was free and in 270 BC it was declared as a Holy Island. In 146 BC, the Romans dominated the island and Tinos became a branch of the province of Asia Minor. Despite that, it enjoyed self-determination and freedom until the middle of the 2nd century AC, when piracy with repeated enslavements of the inhabitants, hit the island. During the Byzantine era, it lapsed into obscurity, for it was being attacked by various intruders (Arabians, Saracens, Goths, Ottomans, and more). Later on, some earthquakes hit the island, combined with consecutive pestilence years (one of them lasted 52 years,) decimating the population. Until the crusades and the so called “Francs” (western crusaders), Tinos was experiencing the “Dark Years”. In 1207 the Venetian brothers Andreas and Jeremiah Ghizi gained the administration of Tinos and Mykonos. The “Ghizis” fortified the Castle of Xomburgo, in order to provide security for the island because, until then, it was defenseless towards invaders, due to the lack of fortified walls. Κιόνια

Tinos is the only island that hasn’t been under the dominance of the Turkish Empire, except in 1715, for a very short period of time. It was then that Xomburgo was deserted by its inhabitants, and the island’s Capital was transferred to the location of the contemporary “Town” (Chora). A brief Russian dominance followed, and in 1821 the first the village in Tinos to raise the flag of the Greek revolution was “Pyrgos”, under the guidance of G. Palamaris.

The finding of the Annunciation Icon, which gave courage and faith to the freedom fighters, supported the Greek tenacity which resulted in victory against the Turkish Empire. After liberation, the island flourished in every field, particularly in Culture and the Arts. As a consequence, Tinos island became “the birthplace” of important cultural personalities during this period of time. Most of all, it gave support to the nation’s battles, provided shelter to refugees and, later on, contributed substantially to the national resistance against the German occupation of Greece.


The ancient coins discovered in Tinos are of great interest, due to the fact that the engraved configurations indicate considerable features of the island. One specific coin, which was also the most prevalent of its time, bears the bust of the ancient God of the Sea Poseidon depicted on one side, while on the other side, a trident is depicted (symbol of that same God) encircled by two dolphins. That is why we assume that Tinos, through this specific coin, wished to stand as a naval power. Other coins, revealing an abundant production of wine on the island, depict either Bacchus holding grapes or Thyrsus, as well as Zeus.

Important dates for the island

Tο δημόσημο του Δήμου Τήνου Tο σημόσημο του Δήμου Τήνου

Ο τορπιλισμός της Έλλης



In 480 B.C During the Midan Era (492-479 B.C), Tinos was conquered by the Persians. However, according to Herodotus, the Tinian trireme led by Panetius of Sosimenis, defects and joins the Greek fleet, while informing the Greeks about the Persian plans, just before the battle of Salamis. This heroic action of the Tinians contributed considerably to the victorious outcome of the sea battle for the Greeks. The Panetius trireme is today the symbol of the Municipality of Tinos.

The Battle of Platees (479 B.C) Due to the important contribution of Tinos in this battle, the name “Tinos” was written on the dedicative Delphic trestle.

4th century A.C. Tinos joins the Christian Faith and the ancient Greek Dodekatheon (twelve-god cult) is renounced, along with the Sanctuary of Poseidon and Amphitrite in “Kionia”, after centuries of worship.

Byzantine years. The island belongs to Greece and is the target of repeated incursions by the Saracens and several other tribes.

1207. Tinos is submitted to the Venetian rule, primarily as a dominion of the Ghizi family (1207-1390) and subsequently, until 1715, under the direct administration of the Saint Marcus Democracy. The continuous presence of the Venetians and the special status agreed upon between them and the Tinian society, played a very important role in the shaping of Tinos social characteristics. The island became the shelter of hunted Greeks, ensuring them stability and relative safety. Such conditions affected the local society by creating a special kind of feudalism, when culture and religion was concerned. (Noteworthy is the presence of the Catholic dogma.)

1538. The island is being plundered by the Pirate Hayreddin Barbarossa.

June 15th 1715. The Turks, after 11 abortive attempts and in collaboration with the Venetians, conquered the island, one of the last not enslaved places in Greece.

Their presence, though, is almost typical. Tinos, taking advantage of some favorable conditions, is spectacularly successful.

It is independently ruled, attains financial development and excels in commercial activities and handicrafts. Tinos achieves a particular prominence in marble carving, thus becoming the biggest centre of this sort in Greece, with whole families dedicated to the Art of Marble, travelling throughout Greece, Asia Minor and the Balkans. Moreover, island heritage, religion and schools were well preserved, as was the system of no taxation that the Tinian people were used to.

1771-1774. A brief Russian stay on the island during the revolution of the Orlof brothers.

March, 31st 1821. The borough of Tinos, Pyrgos, is the first to raise the banner of the Greek revolution at the so called “External Side” (Exo Meria). “Chora”, the capital followed on the 20th of April, while Tinos contributed a lot to the cause of freedom on land and sea.

January, 30th 1823. “From inside the Earth, the holy icon surfaced, revealing the freedom of Greece.” The finding of the miraculous icon of Virgin Mary, after the holy vision of a nun named Pelaghia, reinstated the island as the major contemporary symbol of our homeland and the Orthodox Faith.

1895. The “Tinians” (a local celebration combined with sports events) was organized on the island. These games are the precursors of the revival of Olympic Games of 1896 in Greece.

August 15th 1940. The Italians torpedoed and sunk the Greek Navy cruiser “Elli” at the port of Tinos, while the island was crowded with pilgrims, on the very day of the religious celebration of the 15th of August. Mercifully, no one got hurt among the thousands of pilgrims, a fact that was considered as a miracle of Virgin Mary.


TINIA 1895”

The “Tinian Games”, precursor of the first modern time Olympic Games of 1896 in Athens, were celebrated during the three day binge of the 15th of August celebration in 1895.

They constituted the rebirth of the Olympic Games during 1896, many centuries after their abrogation (4th century AC). They reflected the Olympian spirit, while their games were integrated with religious celebrations, like they had been during the ancient years. The Tinian gymnast and lawyer Xenophon Sohos had the initiative for the organization of those Games. After the refusal of the Pan-Hellenic Gymnastic Association, the National Gymnastic Association accepted to sponsor the enterprise. The great power and resplendence that the Virgin Mary Sanctuary had in the free and unredeemed Greece, can be proven by the great number of believers and visitors that came to attend. Furthermore it is worth mentioning that the Greek Holy Institute of the Annunciation of Tinos provided the largest economic support. The amount of 2000 Drachmas (a very substantial amount in those years) is an indication of the extension of sponsoring by the Holy Institution, in comparison to the 70 Drachmas that the Municipality of Tinos contributed with.

From the “Tinians” of 1895, only two medallions have been saved. On one side, there is an engraving representing the scene of the Annunciation and on the other, a soldier without a spear is depicted, as a symbol of the peace that those games wanted to represent. After 111 years, in 2006, the “Tinian” games were once again celebrated in their birthplace. All the local institutions participated in this important sports event, sponsoring it at the same time. Like in 1895, the National Gymnastic Association undertook the organization, in addition to its participating in it. After the Games` success, it was decided that the “Tinians” would be arranged on the island, every four years, exactly like the Olympic Games.

Μετάλλιο των Τηνίων 1895
Mετάλλιο Τηνίων 1895



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