The folkloric and cultural wealth of Tinos has the special characteristic
of being derived from both the Orthodox and Catholic traditions, as the
island has always had a significant number of inhabitants espousing the
A point Tinians hold in common, both Orthodox and Catholic,
is their deep religious fait and their love of the Virgin Mary in particular.
The entire island, even the most remote and difficult to reach places,
are dotted with churches and chapels which constitute an inseparable part
of the picturesque ness of the Tinian landscape. In 1974 there were 514
Orthodox churches and country chapels and 210 Catholic. It is certain
there are more than 750 today of which about 220 are Catholic. 83 Orthodox
and 43 Catholic churches are dedicated to the Virgin Mary, while the rest
cover a broad spectrum of the Christian feast-day calendar.
The cathedrals, the side-chapels and the country chapels are noteworthy
historical, ecclesiastical and architectural monuments of the past which
have not been systematically studied. They make up the true folkloric,
artistic treasure-trove of the island not found elsewhere in Greece, the
preservation of which requires continuous effort and large expenditures
which are mainly born by the devout inhabitance.
The churches in Tinos are single, double and triple –aisled and
the particular aesthetic pleasure derived from their exterior facades
is due to the bell-towers. There is no uniform type of bell -tower on
the island churches and there are great number of varieties and forms.
They are, as a rule, the creations of the anonymous Tinian folk craftsman.
The numerous Orthodox churches in the town and the villages are decorated
with marvellous works of ecclesiastical folk art, such as carved marble
or wooden iconostases, prelatical vestments, shrines and icons.
The approximately 220 Catholic churches have beautiful statues as well
as wonderful icons, in eastern and western style. In these churches, many
of the icons are works of well-known painters who came from the West (principally
Italy) and are of great artistic worth.
The erection of so many churches was due to both the deep religious piety
of the Tinians and the peculiar historical and religious conditions of
the place (the long Venetian occupation, a Turkish occupation with many
Both the Orthodox and the Catholics have up to the present piously devotedly
retained the tradition of the festival on the church’s feast-day.
There is not the smallest church, even the most remote one that will not
But the largest festivals are usually during the celebration of the
parish churches in the villages. The church as well as entire village
then gleams with cleanliness, while the inhabitants vie as to who will
entertain the visitors at their home where a groaning table awaits them.