9 Greek Islands – Tinos

I have written seven books about the history of places I have travelled to.

I travel because my own father always said he would travel after he’d retired, but he never got the chance because he died from cancer when he was 49. I travel for him when I go to places as well as for myself.

If you are interested in history and / or travel then you should check out these books. Please bear in mind the books are travelogues rather than travel guides and so cover the places I visited and the experiences I had. 

Greek Islands

This book keeps it simple and covers nine Greek Islands: Rhodes, Symi, Patmos, Samos, Syros, Paros, Tinos, Delos, and Mykonos. They are all different and all lovely.

This is an excerpt on Tinos.

Tinos is recommended for those people who want to visit an island in The Cyclades that has more visitors from the rest of Greece than non-Greek visitors. Tinos is the most important Orthodox centre of worship in Greece but is also an important Catholic centre too, due to the Venetians holding out against the Turks until 1715, a lot longer than the rest of Greece. This mixture of religions is so rare in Greece and gives the island a particular character.

The main reason for the influx of Greek visitors is the church at the top of the hill in Tinos Town. The Panayia Evangelistra was built on the spot where an amazing icon was found in 1822 by a local nun, Ayia Pelayia. The nun is now the ‘patron saint’ of Tinos. The timing couldn’t have been better as the Greek War of Independence had only started the previous year and the ‘chance’ discovery served to reinforce the relationship between the Greek Orthodox Church and the cause of Greek independence from Turkey. 

In the church today, visitors can still pay homage to the icon, even though it’s well hidden beneath a layer of jewels and other gifts. Some pilgrims ascend the plush, red-carpeted stairs to the church on their knees, symbolising the veneration the icon can generate in some believers. In the crypt there’s a mausoleum to the sailors who were killed when the Greek cruiser, Elli, was torpedoed by an Italian submarine when she was at anchor of Tinos in 1940. There’s another memorial to this ship on the waterfront about three hundred yards to the east of the ferry terminal. The tragedy was that the Elli was taking part in the celebrations of the Feast of the Assumption when she was torpedoed and no one was on lookout as Greece was still at peace with the Fascist states of Northern Europe.

Tinos is renowned throughout Greece for the excellence of their craftsmen in producing marble ornamentation and this is particularly evident in the town of Pyrgos with its School of Fine Arts and Museum of Marble Crafts. Tinos is also famous for its dovecotes – there’s even a dovecote trail to follow if you hire a car.  I’d heard a village called Tarambados had a great selection of dovecotes, so I caught the bus to the interior and got off at the village. There was no one around, but I saw at least five dovecotes in the mid-distance and sure enough there were soon some signs, which took me by streams, through fields, and along walls. The fields were full of vegetables and the hedges and low trees were full of the sounds of insects, especially bees who were attracted by the copious wild flowers. The dovecotes were bigger than the houses in the village and were attractively decorated with intricate triangles, circles, and honeycomb patterns.

Bio: I am a writer. I love writing creatively especially about subjects such as British traditions, where my made-up traditions are no less ridiculous than the real thing. A list of my books, both fictional and factual (about travel), can be found here.

9 Greek Islands – Syros

I have written seven books about the history of places I have travelled to.

I travel because my own father always said he would travel after he’d retired, but he never got the chance because he died from cancer when he was 49. I travel for him when I go to places as well as for myself.

If you are interested in history and / or travel then you should check out these books. Please bear in mind the books are travelogues rather than travel guides and so cover the places I visited and the experiences I had. 

Greek Islands

This book keeps it simple and covers nine Greek Islands: Rhodes, Symi, Patmos, Samos, Syros, Paros, Tinos, Delos, and Mykonos. They are all different and all lovely.

This is an excerpt on Syros.

Arriving at Ermoupolis, the capital of Syros and of all The Cyclades and known as “The Queen of the Aegean”, I couldn’t help but be impressed by the loveliness of this town that stretched up the hillsides towards the blue sky. Ermoupolis used to be the busiest port in the whole of Greece and a centre for shipbuilding. The wealth generated by all this commerce manifests itself in the stateliness of the mansions all around and in the number of large churches dotted across the town. 

My hotel was the former home of the architect Georgios Vitalis and was located about a third of the way up the Vrondadho hill, just behind the Orthodox Cathedral or Mitropolis. In Syros, the orthodox population tends to live in the lower part of Ermoupolis whereas the Catholics live in the upper town and in the villages of the island. 

The Plateia Miaouli is the centre of the town, a large open square, surrounded on three sides by palm trees, cafes, and benches for people watching. This is the place where the local population goes to be seen. The square is dominated on the land side by the glorious, neoclassical town hall, designed by Ernst Ziller. The square and accompanying statue are named after the Hydriot naval hero Andreas Vokos, whose nickname was Miaoulis. He commanded Greek naval forces during the Greek War of Independence between 1821 and 1829. 

Miaoulis retired in order to leave the former Royal Navy officer, Thomas Cochrane, free to act as commander of the Greek forces, an indication that the struggle had passed to the Great Powers of the day. Miaoulis died on 24 June 1835 in Athens and was buried at Piraeus near the tomb of Themistocles, the founder of the ancient Athenian Navy. Miaoulis’s son, Athanasios, served as Prime Minister of Greece between 1857 and 1862. A large festival, called Miaoulia, takes place in Hydra every year on the weekend closest to 21 June, to honour Admiral Miaoulis, showing the regard this man is still held in for his role in the Greek Revolution of 1821.

Bio: I am a writer. I love writing creatively especially about subjects such as British traditions, where my made-up traditions are no less ridiculous than the real thing. A list of my books, both fictional and factual (about travel), can be found here.

9 Greek Islands – Samos

I have written seven books about the history of places I have travelled to.

I travel because my own father always said he would travel after he’d retired, but he never got the chance because he died from cancer when he was 49. I travel for him when I go to places as well as for myself.

If you are interested in history and / or travel then you should check out these books. Please bear in mind the books are travelogues rather than travel guides and so cover the places I visited and the experiences I had. 

Greek Islands

This book keeps it simple and covers nine Greek Islands: Rhodes, Symi, Patmos, Samos, Syros, Paros, Tinos, Delos, and Mykonos. They are all different and all lovely.

This is an excerpt on Samos.

The most famous sight on Samos is the Heraion, on the far side of the airport coming from the Pythagorio direction. Visitors will walk along the narrow side road through groves of olive trees before reaching the entrance. After entering, a long processional way exposed to the elements can be used to gradually approach the main site. In ancient times, this processional or sacred way would have stretched right back to Pythagorio. As you walk along, there are circular sections of discarded columns and individual shaped stones, indicating there must have been small temples on both sides when the Heraion was a place of worship and pilgrimage. At one point, there are some beautifully carved figures called the Geneleos. Although headless, they have a sensuous grace and smoothness unique at this sight. All around are the foundations for a number of different buildings such as The Aphrodite Temple, The Large Altar of Hera, and The Exedra of Cicero. 

However,  the main feature of the sight is the single column standing in what would originally have been a temple dedicated to Hera. Tradition has it that Hera was born and raised here, and for this reason her temple at the Heraion was the largest in antiquity, measuring 109 m in length, 55 m in width, and 25 m in height. What complicates matters is that this vast temple, known as the Polycrates Temple, was the third temple dedicated to Hera at this sight having been built in the later half of the sixth century BCE.

The previous temple, built by the architects Rhoikos and Theodoros between 570-550 BC and known as the Rhoikos Temple, was located forty metres away and was smaller than the Polycrates Temple. The Rhoikos temple was destroyed by an earthquake, but it still wasn’t the oldest temple dedicated to Hera at this sight. That honour goes to the Hekatompedos, built about 200 years before the Rhoikos Temple. The Hekatompedos was roughly 100 feet long and very narrow; it consisted of three walls and an interior central line of columns to support a roof. 

Bio: I am a writer. I love writing creatively especially about subjects such as British traditions, where my made-up traditions are no less ridiculous than the real thing. A list of my books, both fictional and factual (about travel), can be found here.

9 Greek Islands – Patmos

I have written seven books about the history of places I have travelled to.

I travel because my own father always said he would travel after he’d retired, but he never got the chance because he died from cancer when he was 49. I travel for him when I go to places as well as for myself.

If you are interested in history and / or travel then you should check out these books. Please bear in mind the books are travelogues rather than travel guides and so cover the places I visited and the experiences I had. 

Greek Islands

This book keeps it simple and covers nine Greek Islands: Rhodes, Symi, Patmos, Samos, Syros, Paros, Tinos, Delos, and Mykonos. They are all different and all lovely.

This is an excerpt on Patmos.

I was lucky enough to see a Greek Orthodox service at the Apokalypsis monastery, only attended by local people. If you’re used to Catholic services then the Greek Orthodox version might well seem rather informal. The priest wore a white ‘dress’ decorated with Greek crosses. He had a large, bushy grey beard and hair to match. He spent most of the service in an inner room chanting while two men, members of the congregation not garbed in priestly attire but definitely part of the service, on the opposite side of the inner half of the chapel were counterpoint to his chants. People attending the service had lit candles when coming in to the chapel, but these were replaced every 10 minutes by one of the two men helping to run the service, who would replace each thrown-away candle with a new one. There were a few chairs in the inner part of the chapel and there was no music, the only sounds were the three human voices.

Periodically, worshippers would walk around the icons kissing each one in turn and then either kissing or running their prayer beads over the beaten silver surrounding the two gaps in the rock used by St John. At no time were all the people still. The priest spoke rapidly in a near whisper, his voice carrying around the chapel easily, but there was never any reply from the congregation as a whole, just from the two men. Theirs was the only sound I could hear – there was no noise from outside.

Occasionally, the priest came out of his inner sanctum with a senser full of incense. He lifted this towards the congregation three times and also wafted it out of the window as if in blessing nature. The incense momentarily blurred the icons in my line of sight and my nostrils breathed in the holy smell (some other word!). Some new worshippers prostrated themselves in front of one of the icons whilst others prayed and stayed where they were. There was always movement with people coming in and out of the chapel, lighting candles, praying, kissing icons, and touching the beaten silver. At no time did people talk amongst themselves.

After about an hour the priest gave the sacrament to all those who queued up to receive it. One of the priest’s helpers re-arranged the candles and threw most of them away as they’d almost all burned down to the sand in the container they were standing in. The final act was for the priest to hand out bread to all the worshippers as they were leaving the chapel. He then changed into black attire and strode confidently out of the chapel while listening to half-a-dozen people who were following him. The whole service lasted an hour and 20 minutes. 

Bio: I am a writer. I love writing creatively especially about subjects such as British traditions, where my made-up traditions are no less ridiculous than the real thing. A list of my books, both fictional and factual (about travel), can be found here.

9 Greek Islands – Symi

I have written seven books about the history of places I have travelled to.

I travel because my own father always said he would travel after he’d retired, but he never got the chance because he died from cancer when he was 49. I travel for him when I go to places as well as for myself.

If you are interested in history and / or travel then you should check out these books. Please bear in mind the books are travelogues rather than travel guides and so cover the places I visited and the experiences I had. 

Greek Islands

This book keeps it simple and covers nine Greek Islands: Rhodes, Symi, Patmos, Samos, Syros, Paros, Tinos, Delos, and Mykonos. They are all different and all lovely.

This is an excerpt on Symi.

Arriving at Symi Town is the loveliest way to begin any visit to a Greek Island. The bay has low hills on all sides and on those hills are stacked differently coloured ochre Italianate mansions, each one a slightly shade to its neighbour. The slope of the hills means these mansions appear in neat rows above one another, leaving the visitor spellbound by the man-made beauty. Added to this are lines of sail boats, small ferries, and large yachts bobbing rhythmically on the swell by the quay. 

The wealth of Symi has been based on sponge diving and shipbuilding. Indeed just over a hundred years ago, these two industries meant more people lived in Symi Town than lived in nearby Rhodes Town. Symi has always been famed for its shipbuilding and legend has it that Symi provided 3 ships for the Greeks in the Trojan War. Nowadays tourism is the main earner, with enough expats staying on the island to allow some businesses to remain open all year round. Some of the houses built in the last two centuries have fallen into disrepair and the more you explore, the more ruins you will find. 

Symi Town comprises two different areas, the lower town of Yialos and the upper town of Horio, though there’s no real boundary between the two other than an individual’s physical fitness, as the best way to get between them is the 350-step Kali Strata path, starting from behind a pizza restaurant in Yialos.

Yialos stretches around the main bay into the smaller Harani Bay, the main area for shipbuilding in times past. Some boats are still repaired here, though the majority of the vessels tied to the quay are small, multi-coloured fishing boats, piled high with nets, straight out of a photographer’s dreams. On the hill above is a Greek Orthodox Church. Heading around the headland is one of the ways to get to the community of Emborio with its quiet beach and taverna. Emborio offers great swimming and snorkelling opportunities and the water is incredibly clear – the boats almost appear to be floating on air. It’s a lovely walk to Emborio along the road overlooking the sea, but Symi Town’s land train does come in this direction too and there are also taxi-boats who call in. 

  

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