The dove-cotes are found in some of the other Cycladic islands, but
the most impressive ones are located on the island of Tinos. The local
people breed pigeons mainly for their tasty meat and their dropping,
which constitutes a first quality fertilizer.
The dovecotes are built in the countryside at well-chosen locations near
cultivated areas and water, on the slopes of mountains and ravine. They
are a strikingly beautiful ornament of the Tinian landscape. They are
massive, stone-built edifices, the lower floors of which are used as
storerooms for agricultural and live-stock products and tools while the
upper floors are for pigeons.
The dove-cote builders used the local material, slate, with great skill
in order to form unusual decorations on one or more facades of the building
(rhomboids, triangles, suns and cypress trees. These ornaments form an
astounding and harmonic picture.
They are truly “built embroideries”. Each one individually
and all of them as a whole, constitute architectural monuments and are
expressions of popular artistic creation, unique in the world. Only when
architecture springs from the same emotional urge as decoration, do such
Though pigeons have been present on the island for many centuries, it
appears that the Venetians introduced their systematic breeding.
The precise number of dovecotes is not known, but it certainly exceeds
600. The majority of them are in the central and eastern sections of
the island especially in the Tarabados valley. Most of the “surviving” dove-cotes
are dated back in the 18th and 19th centuries.