All images © by Roberto Piperno, owner of the domain. Write to email@example.com.
Page revised in April 2021.
All images © by Roberto Piperno, owner of the domain. Write to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Page revised in April 2021.
(1900 Times Atlas of the World)
1204: Tino is assigned to the Ghisi, a Venetian family of merchants.
1390: Venice establishes direct rule on the island.
1570: Failed Ottoman attempt to seize the fortress
1655/1658/1661: Failed Ottoman attempts to seize the fortress
1715: The Venetian commander surrenders the fortress without fighting
(Venice - June 1675) But now among the Islands of the Archipelago, the Venetians have only Cerigo and Tine; which, with Istria, and the Coasts of Dalmatia, Corfu, Cephalonia, and Zant, are all that remain of the Levant part of their Dominions: (..) After we knew what Ships were determined to go to Constantinople, we went and waited on the General to desire his favour, that we might have passage in one of them. They were in all six Sail; whereof Two Men of War, and a Merchant-man, were bound for Constantinople; and the other, Three Men of War, no further than Tine, thither to carry a new Proveditor. The General gave us Warrant to Embarque on the Guerriera Constante.
A journey into Greece by George Wheler, Esq., in company of Dr. Spon of Lyons - 1682
Monday morning, the Ninth of August, we approached near Tine, and dropped Anchor about noon in a Bay on the South-side thereof; there being no Port on that side of the Island. Wheler
After the 1204 conquest of Constantinople by the Frank knights of the Fourth Crusade, the Byzantine Empire was partitioned. The Republic of Venice, which financially supported the crusade, obtained Candia (Crete) and Negroponte (Euboea), the two largest Aegean islands, while most of the smaller islands were acquired by Venetian families.
Tino (or Tine) together with Andro, Schiatto, Scopello and Schiro became a fiefdom of the Ghisi family. In 1390 the Republic established its direct rule over Tino and nearby Micono.
Archaeological Museum of Tinos: (left) section of a relief on a jar (VIIth century BC) which is thought to depict the birth of Athena (she came out from the head of Zeus); (right) statue of a Roman emperor with a relief depicting a fight between a Greek warrior and a centaur (from the sanctuary to Poseidon and Amphitrite)
Tine was anciently called Tinos as by some Medals we found there it appeared; which on one side bear the Head of Jupiter Hammon, and on the other a bunch of Grapes, denoting its plenty of Wine. Another I saw at Paris amongst the King of France's Collections, which had on the one side the Head of the Emperor Alexander Severus, and on the other a Trident, wreathed about with a Serpent, because here was a noble Temple dedicated to Neptune; where, as Strabo relateth, the adjacent Islands used to perform the Ceremonies of their Religious Superstition. (..) On the South-shore was its ancient City; where nothing now remains, but two or three houses, called still the City. Here are some ancient Remains, and an Inscription. Wheler
I carried away from Tino a few medals and several antique intaglios which I bought from inhabitants of the island who wore them mounted as rings. Among the latter were two or three of superior excellence, but all were very dear for the Levant, Englishmen being too well known in Tino to admit of their making cheap purchases.
William Turner - Journal of a Tour in the Levant - 1815.
Tino does not retain important monuments of its ancient past, but its small Archaeological Museum has some very large jars with very elaborate reliefs. The island housed a sanctuary to Poseidon (Neptune) and his wife Amphitrite which flourished from the IIIrd century BC to the end of classical antiquity.
Tinos (S. Nicol˛) and in the distance Exobourgo, the rock where Old Tino stood
The whole Island lieth high, being a large heap of Marble Rocks; but in many places covered with a fertile soil. (..) Our Ships being to stay here some days, to discharge themselves of the Goods of the new General of this place, who (if I remember rightly) beareth the Title of General of the Archipelago, though my companion calleth him only Proveditore, we resolved not to let so good an opportunity slip, without seeing the anciently so renowned Island of Delos, which we had in view, not above eight, or ten miles from Tine.
Tino is one of the five islands which surround the sacred island of Delos; the others are Siro, Micono, Nasso and Paris. They were called Cyclades because they form a circle around Delos.
Tenos is distinguished by the numerous white villages which stud its sides, while behind the town of Tenos itself, on the summit of the ridge, there rises a remarkable knob of rock, faced with red. (..) Exoburgo, its name, is, apparently, a mixture of Greek and Italian, meaning the suburb (borgo) which lay outside the citadel. (..) The town, which is better known as Hagios Nicolas, was in former times hardly more than a landing-place, since the Venetian occupants had established themselves on the ridge above; but now its white houses and campaniles have an imposing effect as seen from the sea; while the monastery of the Evangelistria, which is the most important structure, with the great church in the centre of it, towers over the whole place.
Henry Fanshawe Tozer - The islands of the Aegean Sea. Publ. 1890, but Tozer began his travels in 1874.
The Venetians fortified a high rock at the centre of the island which today is known as Exobourgo, while Tinos is the name given to the former village of S. Nicol˛ which is located on the southern coast of the island.
The rock of old Tino seen from the east
We ascended near four miles to a pointed Rock, in the middle of the Island; whereon now is its chief City and Castle. As we passed, we took notice of its plenty of Vineyards, Figs and Olives. They say they have Corn, but not to spare; rather wanting the help of other parts, by reason they are so very populous; this being now the only Island in the Archipelago, that have defended themselves from the Turks; and the last in those parts under the Dominion of the Venetians: with whom the Inhabitants have made this agreement, viz. That whensoever they cannot, or will not protect them any longer, they shall be obliged to deliver the Castle to the Inhabitants; who are to have the freedom to chuse whom they will for their Protector. Wheler
To reach the summit we had to make our way to the back of the cliffs, where lies the ruined town of Exoburgo: the buildings of this are roofless, only one or two half-dismantled churches being still used. Tozer
The island had very minor importance for Venice, but after the loss of Negroponte in 1469, of Micono in 1537 and of the fortresses of Napoli di Romania and Malvasia in 1540, Tino became the only remaining Venetian possession in the Aegean Sea, apart from Crete.
In 1570 the Ottomans waged war on Venice with the objective of conquering Cyprus; they made an attempt to conquer Tino, but Girolamo Paruta, governor of the island, alerted the inhabitants of the arrival of the enemy so that they were able to reach the fortress and contribute to its defence. The Ottomans landed 8,000 troops and several cannon and attacked the fortress from its eastern side, but were unable to seize it; they then laid siege to it, but the nature of the ground was such that the Venetians could fire on them while the Ottoman cannon could do little damage to the fortress. Eventually the Ottomans gave up and went on with their campaign; the war ended with Venice acknowledging the loss of Cyprus, but Tino remained in Venetian hands.
(left) Apse of a church at the foot of the rock; (right) a small building near the top
The Castle stands on a high rock on the top of the Mountain. It is much higher than any other part of the Island, so as it may be discerned at both sides of the Island. Upon any occasion of rejoycing, Fires were made upon the top of the Castle, which have been seen at the Island of Scio (..) This Island has ever been a great Eye-sore to the Turks. In the late Warr of Candia, several Brigantines were mann'd out of this place; which did continually torment the Turks in all their Quarters.
Bernard Randolph, b. 1643. The present state of the islands in the archipelago.
There are Twenty-four Villages about the Island, which can in time of necessity retire commodiously to this Castle; it being in the midst of them, and having great advantages of nature to defend it self from any sudden assault: though I believe, scarce able to stand out a considerable Siege, for want of Water and Provision. Wheler
During the long War of Candia (1645-1669) the Venetians utilized Tino as an advanced base from which they launched attacks on enemy convoys bringing supplies to Constantinople; in 1655 the Ottomans landed on the island but were unable to seize the fortress; another attempt in 1658 failed as well as a third one in 1661. When eventually the war came to an end and the Venetians surrendered Candia they did retain Tino. In 1684 at the outset of a new war the Ottomans made yet another failed attempt to seize the fortress.
Views from Exobourgo: (above) towards modern Tinos; (below) towards the harbour on the north-eastern coast of the island
The Castle is on the highest point of the Rock, surrounded by the Towns, something lower than it; and not only over-looketh the whole Island, but almost all the Archipelago: which afforded our curiosity a most delightful prospect of the same. Hence to the Nor-West we saw Andros, beyond that Euboea, now called Negroponte by the Franks. (..) At a greater distance further we could discern Capo di Colonna, anciently called Promontorium Sunicum, the most Southern Promontory of all Attica. We saw to the southwards two Islands they now call the two Deloses, Rhenea and Delos: to the West Micone. Wheler
I was to-day told, that on the other (east) side of the island, there was an excellent port, and a city (both called "Palermo"), larger than this of St. Nicolas. (..) In the evening I strolled along the sea-shore, north of the town by a path in the rock that hung over the sea, and was delighted with the wild scenery and the combination of green fields, rocks and sea. Turner
Remaining walls of the old town
The father of the Consul told me this evening that when Tino was taken from the Venetians by the Turks, his grandfather was killed, and his father received three wounds in defending a fort. Turner
As we approached the foot of the peak, we discovered that the red appearance which it assumed from a distance was caused by an ochre-coloured lichen, which thickly covered its face, with a picturesque effect. Hence we clambered up the steep slopes in the midst of debris, passing at intervals the massive walls, composed of large blocks, by which the accessible portions of the ground were defended. Until lately a Venetian cannon remained here, but it has now been removed. Tozer
In December 1714 the Ottomans declared war on Venice; the campaign started only in June of the following year; Venice relied on its fortresses to gain time and convince the Austrian Emperor to join the war.
Tine la Fedele (Faithful Tinos) was regarded as unconquerable so the news that Bernardo Balbi, governor of the island, had surrendered the fortress without fighting was a great blow to the Venetian strategy and an ill omen for the prosecution of the campaign. The Ottomans promised Balbi to safely transfer him and his troops to a Venetian fortress; they duly kept their promise, thus prompting a series of surrenders by the demoralized Venetian garrisons of other fortresses. Upon his return to Venice Balbi was charged with cowardice and sentenced to life imprisonment.
The Ottomans methodically dismantled the fortress as if to erase the memory of their many failed attempts to seize it and they deported part of the population of the island.
Xinara, the seat of the Catholic Archdiocese of Tino at the foot of Exobourgo
At Tine they are most of the Roman Religion; and the Greeks use their own Liturgies and Ceremonies; but are governed by a Latine Bishop. Wheler
As we sailed along the mountainous coast of Tino, we saw some beautiful villages on the heights, surrounded by the richest woods: every inch of ground seemed (and, as I was afterwards informed, is cultivated, a rare instance of industry in these countries. (..) The island contains about 66 villages, all built of white stone. Turner
Tino was the seat of a diocese (which included Micono) and when the fortress which housed the cathedral was destroyed, the bishops chose to remain very close to their former seat and they moved to a tiny village, Xinara, which is dominated by the massive shape of Exobourgo.
(left) Modern cathedral; (right) house which gave access to the village and the coat of arms of a bishop
We should notice one feature in these islands, which causes them to present innumerable contrasts to
other parts of Greece. (..) Here, on the contrary, the Byzantine imprint hardly
ever appears, and the Italian mode of building and
corresponding architectural features are everywhere
predominant. So, too, while in Turkey and Greece
proper the material of which dwelling-houses are
constructed is principally wood, in these islands
we find them universally built of stone. Tozer
Today the Archdiocese of Tino includes the Roman Catholics living on Andro and Nasso who in the past had their own bishops. At the entrance of Xinara there is a modern church and next to it the residence of the archbishop. For two centuries however the bishops resided in a small building above a gate which was the only access to the village.
(above) Small chapel outside the village; (below) 1790 Latin inscription on its lintel meaning ôMy house shall be called a house of prayer" Matthew 21:13
This evening there was a great crowd of catholicks at the convent celebrating the festival of the Corpus Domini, which they carried in procession to the church. After the ceremony, the bells in the churches were rung, and all the cannons, guns, and pistols in the town were repeatedly fired in honour of the occasion. And the Consul told me that all the catholick villages in Tino, of which there are above twenty, contend which shall fire the most powder on this occasion. The annexation of bells to churches in the Levant is a great privilege, the Turks rigorously prohibiting them. Turner
St. Nicholas' in modern Tinos: (left) fašade; (right) interior
The town of St. Nicolas (which stands on the southerly side of the island, and occupies the site of its ancient capital) contains about five hundred houses, which, as well as the dresses of the women, still retain a very Venetian appearance. (..) I was told that most of the inhabitants of the higher order in this city (St. N.) are Catholicks; that Constantinople and Smyrna contain and employ twelve hundred of the inhabitants of the island, who are the best cooks and the most esteemed female servants in the Levant, and in that capacity are almost exclusively employed by the Franks in those cities. Turner
After the destruction of the town inside the fortress, St. Nicholas gradually became the most important settlement of the town; the Catholic church by the same name indicates the site of the old village.
St. Francis': (left) fašade; (right) relief on the adjoining building, most likely a Capuchin monastery, with the inscription "Concordia Res Parvae Crescunt" (in harmony small things grow) a sentence from Sallust (Bellum Iugurthinum - X)
Signor Vitali, the English Vice-Consul,(..) got me a bed in a Catholick convent (where, he told me, all Englishmen lodged), inhabited by only one Capuchin friar. Turner
St. Nicholas' was not the only Roman Catholic church of modern Tinos and there were convents and nunneries as well. St. Francis' retains a typical Venetian aspect; the image shown in the background of this page shows the relief above its entrance: a heart pouring blood and the inscription "Haec Christi Stigmata Ordinis Insignia" a reference to the emblem of the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin which shows two crossed arms with stigmata on their hands.
(left) Relief showing a winged lion in the hall of Hotel Poseidon; (right) 1826 relief above the entrance of a house with the inscription
"Benedictio patris firmat domos filiorum" (The father's blessing establisheth the houses of the children - Ecclesiasticus 3:7)
Tino contains sixty-four villages, and 20,000 inhabitants; it pays annually to the Porte 50,000. piastres, but the allowance to the Turkish Waywode appointed over it, (who is almost the only Turk residing in the island), the presents necessary to conciliate favour, &c. &c., swell this sum to 70 or 80,000. Turner
The Ottomans, after having seized and destroyed the fortress, were not interested in establishing direct rule over Tino and they allowed the inhabitants some form of autonomous government in return for a yearly poll tax; Latin continued to be used in several inscriptions.
A typical modern marble screen above a door showing a ship and carpenter's tools
The inhabitants of the Aegean islands replaced the Venetian and Genoese merchants in the trade inside the Ottoman Empire. In 1783 Empress Catherine the Great of Russia forced a treaty on the Ottomans allowing the Greeks to trade under their own flag, thus promoting the development of a Greek merchant navy centred in the Cyclades. Ermoupolis, a port on the island of Siro, became the main port of Greece in the early XIXth century.
Our Lady of the Annunciation: (left) street leading to the sanctuary which penitents ascend on their knees (reserved passage on the right side of the street); (right) portal leading to the courtyard
We went up to the monastery, the extensive buildings of which, occupying three sides of
a quadrangle, contain a school and accommodation
for numerous pilgrims. We were shown the sacred
picture to which the place owes its foundation, the
elaborately ornamented church containing numerous
votive offerings, and the place beneath it where the
picture was found in the year 1824. The story
is one that recurs in many countries, viz. that a
nun dreamed that an icon of the Virgin was buried
there, and one was discovered on the spot accordingly.
The great days of pilgrimage are March 25 and
August 15 (Old Style), and on these the crowds of
visitors are very great. Tozer
In 1822 a pious Orthodox nun had a series of miraculous visions during which she was told to look for an icon which was buried in an uncultivated field. Initial excavations led to identifying the ruins of an old church but only after several months the Holy Icon portraying the Annunciation was found. It was immediately decided to build a large church to house the icon. The sanctuary was completed by 1830 and it was designed by Eustratios Kallonaris, an architect from Smyrna.
The monastery probably occupies the position of the temple of Poseidon, who was the patron of the island. Here, as often, the place of that deity has been taken by St. Nicolas, the guardian of sailors, from whom the town is now named. Tozer
(left) Dovecot near Tzados (Exobourgo); (right) dovecots near modern Tinos
We passed some curious pigeon-houses,
situated in the middle of enclosures, and resembling
cottages, with numerous holes for the pigeons to
enter, and resting-places for them on the outside;
large flocks of these birds were flying about them. Tozer
Dovecots are a distinctive landmark of Tino (and Andro); most of them go back to the Venetian period.
Introductory page on the Venetian Fortresses in Greece
List of the fortresses
|Geographic area||Location||Ionian Islands||Corf¨ (Kerkyra) Paxo (Paxi) Santa Maura (Lefkadas) Cefalonia (Kephallonia) Asso (Assos) Itaca (Ithaki) Zante (Zachintos) Cerigo (Kythera)||Greek Mainland||Butrinto (Butrint) Parga Preveza and Azio (Aktion) Vonizza (Vonitsa) Lepanto (Nafpaktos) Atene (Athens)||Peloponnese (Morea)||Castel di Morea (Rio), Castel di Rumelia (Antirio) and Patrasso (Patra) Castel Tornese (Hlemoutsi) and Glarenza Navarino (Pilo) and Calamata Modon (Methoni) Corone (Koroni) Braccio di Maina, Zarnata, PassavÓ and ChielefÓ MistrÓ Corinto (Korinthos) Argo (Argos) Napoli di Romania (Nafplio) Malvasia (Monemvassia)||Aegean Islands||Negroponte (Chalki) Castelrosso (Karistos) Oreo Lemno (Limnos) Schiatto (Skiathos) Scopello (Skopelos) Alonisso Schiro (Skyros) Andro (Andros) Tino (Tinos) Micono (Mykonos) Siro (Syros) Egina (Aegina) Spezzia (Spetse) Paris (Paros) Antiparis (Andiparos) Nasso (Naxos) Serifo (Serifos) Sifno (Syphnos) Milo (Milos) Argentiera (Kimolos) Santorino (Thira) Folegandro (Folegandros) Stampalia (Astipalea)||Crete||Grambusa (Granvousa) Castello (Kasteli/Kissamos) La Canea (Xania) Souda Candia (Iraklion) Rettimo (Rethymno) Spinalonga and Castel Mirabello Castles on the southern coast Sittia and Paleocastro|
You may refresh your knowledge of the history of Venice in the Levant by reading an abstract from
the History of Venice by Thomas Salmon, published in 1754. The Italian text is accompanied by an English summary.