Tinos, the third largest island of the Cyclades, famous as being the holy island of the Virgin Mary, stimulates feelings and charms its visitors, gifting them with memories of images formed from different experiences.
An environment of stone, equated to deprivation that endures the light and seduces it. It attempts to give the rocks manlike shapes and erect them against the horizontal azure.
A sculptural landscape in a variegation of white and ash-grey, full of the smells of wild shrubs. Fields full of chamomile and daisies so as to drown the poppies in a sea of yellow. Swarms of bees that at times harvest the thyme and at others the heather, according to their taste. And the caper and the samphire clinging to the clefts of rocks, obstinately refusing any change of habit, much like the ceaseless wind.
Thousands of kilometres of dry-wall constructions, enclosures, terraces, steps, paraggeries, outbuildings, derelict buildings, threshing floors, stables, barns, winepresses, reservoirs, raki distilleries. The know-how of centuries. An architecture of the people, humble, which signals a way of life. Forty-two villages and inland settlements, fifty together with the seaside ones, nine hundred windmills, seven hundred dovecots, one thousand five hundred country chapels. A life interwoven with church services and sleepless nights of religious festivals, with the sounds of fiddles and the balos and syrtos dances, with the sharp noise of tribonia. Each day there is a celebration, each day there is a feast, each day is the feast day of a Saint. And the previous night was nothing other than the eve of the holiday!
Hospitable inhabitants and humble farmers, they open wide their hearts and willingly usher you into their homes to offer of their fare: froutalia (the local version of an omelette), louza (a type of salted ham), artichokes cooked with wild fennel, pigeon cooked in wine or kid roasted in a wood oven. They will also treat you to a glass of their raki. Every house and a raki distillery. Each small glass and a small caption. If you do not drink a small bottle of it, you shall never solve the riddle of whether the small tower you see is a chimney or a belfry, if it does indeed exist!
And if you wind your way towards the seashore, you will find fish and seafood freshly caught and an array of mezedes (appetizers) so that you might continue with your raki and solve other conundrums, possibly your own.
Tinos is an artistic island. It has a culture and a history of its own. Eighteen museums bear witness to the history, the culture and the unique aesthetics of Tinian artists and particularly to the island's sculptors and marble carvers.
One has no need to seek the beauty of Tinos; it flows of its own like a unique festival of an open-air art show and a way of life.
Tinos is easily accessible from Athens. From the port of Rafina, the island is connected all year round to the mainland on a daily basis, the journey taking 100 minutes by highspeed boat or 4 hours by ferryboat. Similarly, it is connected also to Piraeus, which is 2,5 hours away by highspeed boat or 5 hours by ferryboat. Also, Tinos is connected with several cycladic islands such as Mykonos, Syros, Andros, Santorini, Paros, Naxos, Ios, Koufonisia and Amorgos. In addition, Tinos can be reached by air via the international airport of Mykonos and Syros thanks to the frequent and short sea connection (20 min. by high-speed). Alternatively, a helipad close to Tinos port is available for a transportation from Athens, Mykonos, Syros or elsewhere.
Kardiani is built on a verdant slope about 15km northwest of the main port. The verdure-covered area full of huge plane trees, quite an uncommon sight for a Cycladic island, bears testament to the abundance of water in the region. Indeed, drinking water springs are found everywhere, even inside the village's houses. The green surroundings along with the chill breeze have long deemed Kardiani as the village with the healthiest climate on the island.
Kardiani is also a charming settlement with delicately paved narrow alleys, numerous carved arches and traditional whitewashed beautiful houses. The finesse of Tinian marble sculpting is evident here as well, and visitors will admire statues and engraves on public spaces and buildings. Streams flow through the village and fill numerous springs with fresh drinking water; an ideal stop during cycling or hiking trips. The mix of exquisite natural beauty and exemplary architecture witnessed in Kardiani, make this village truly stand out as one of the prettiest on the whole island.
On the west-central part of Tinos, 4km from the main port, on the foothills of Mount Exobourgo, lies one of the oldest villages of the island, Tripotamos. The village is built between three rivers and it consists of beautiful arches, whitewashed steps, arcades and narrow alleys. Within walking distance of the village are the ruins of the medieval town but there are also findings dating back to the Prehistoric and Geometric period. From Tripotamos, well maintained and signposted trekking trais start leading to the town and its hinterland.
In this picturesque village one can find the worth-seeing church of Esodia Theotokou (The Presentation of the Virgin) decorated with some fine marble works of art. This beautiful village is the birthplace of the internationally famous modern Greek philosopher Kornilios Kastoriadis.