Tinos Travel Blog› entry 7 of 26 › view all entries
I LOVE this island. We took a quick ferry over at 630am. It had a much more laid back and less touristy feel than Mykonos. The first thing we did was walk up the hill to the Greek Orthodox Church that was having a service. It is called the Church of the Annunciation, and it’s a famous pilgrimage site for many Greek Orthodox followers. It is the site of a miraculous icon of the Virgin Mary. (Icons are really big in this religion) We visited the chapel (is ‘chapel’ the right word?) It was dripping in gold and silver. It was fabulously ornate. Lots of parishioners were there, lighting candles and singing along with the priests. I didn’t know what was going on exactly, but it was pretty cool to see. It’s very different from any church I’ve been to.
I said before that people make pilgrimages up to the icon. You see the pilgrims on their hands and knees climbing up the hill to see the icon. I read an ethnography (you hear that, I’m reading ethnographies…) about the icon by an anthropologist living on Tinos in the 80’s. She tells a story about going out into the street one night when a woman who was supposedly demon possessed was trying to make the pilgrimage but the devil was stopping her. A huge crowd of locals and gypsies gathered in the streets and cheered her on until she made it to the top and was healed of her demon possession. I saw women on their knees climbing to the church, but no crowds that morning.
The miraculous icon was buried on the island and no one knew about it until the Virgin appeared to a nun, Pelagia in a vision three times and told her to find the icon. They dug where the Virgin directed and there they found this icon, or so the story goes. Believers buy little metal plates with cloisonné images of arms or eyes or a baby maybe to take to hang by the icon as a prayer for that thing – like if your vision was bad, you might hang an image of an eye as a prayer for better health, and light a candle. After we visited the church, we took a bus to the abbey where Pelagia lived and toured around. It was a really beautiful little community, with small winding streets and lots of chapels. It was quiet and peaceful. I think it might be a nice life, being a nun, this commune is pretty self sufficient and the whole place was really pretty, and very cool to visit.
The bus driver took us to several other little villages on the island for a quick visit. There are over 40 little villages on the island, with small winding roads between them. We stopped at the bus driver’s village and met his kids, these two adorable 4 year old twins, who loved the attention of 14 girls. They picked flowers as we walked around to give to us, and would run around corners in front of us to jump out to scare us. They were so cute! One girl took a picture with them, and then the kids wanted all of us to take pictures with them. In this little village they built a mini amphitheater. The island architecture is really different and is built into the landscape, and works with it, instead of dominating it. For example this amphitheater is built into the hillside and some of the underlying rocks just become a part of the seating section.
Se agapo (I love you)