15 August is a national holiday in Greece and sees a mass departure from the cities to the islands and holiday homes in the mainland. However one island in particular witnesses more activity than most. Culture Trip explores why Tinos is a major religious destination.
Tinos is a Cycladic island situated next to Mykonos. The contrast between the two islands couldn’t be more different. Whereas Mykonos is famously home to hedonism and decadent living, gentle Tinos has a distinctly religious heritage.
Across Tinos are churches and shrines, the most famous of which is Panagia Evangelistria, the most holy church in Greece which houses the ‘Miraculous Icon of Virgin Mary’. In the Greek Orthodox religion, the Icon is considered to be the protector of all of Greece.
Each year the island welcomes thousands of pilgrims from across Greece and neighbouring countries for the feast of the Virgin Mary on 15 August. In the Orthodox Church the 15th is ‘Virgin Mary Assumption Day’ where the Virgin is believed to have ascended to heaven. In Tinos the celebration of the event transforms the entire island.
The ritual of travelling to pay homage to such a sacred Icon at this time is highly emotional for Pilgrims, with the Holy Icon in Tinos serving as a main passage between the Virgin and the believers who seek comfort and miracles on their trip.
The journey to Tinos is one that Pilgrims have been enacting for centuries. The icon itself was discovered on the island in 1823. The discovery was the result of a series of visions had by a nun who lived on the island. Reportedly the Virgin Mary visited Sister Peraghia and told her where the Holy Icon was. Coming at a time when Greece was still under Ottoman occupation many saw the visions of Sister Peraghia and the consequent discovery of the Icon as truly miraculous. Interestingly some of the first visitors to the Icon and the Church when it was built were revolutionary fighters in the Greek War of Independence.
One of the most striking parts of the day is the level of devotion that pilgrims show to the Virgin Mary. Often pilgrims crawl to the church from the boats that they arrive on on their hands and knees to show their devotion and pray for compassion, good health and healing. The final part of the pilgrimage often happens in the blazing heat which makes the effort even more momentous.
The atmosphere at and around the Church in the days proceeding the event is sincere and intense. Other pilgrims will arrive at Tinos the night before and sleep in front of the Church to ensure they have the opportunity to see and pray to the Holy Icon.
On the day itself the Holy Icon is carried through the streets of Tinos by members of the Greek army and navy, followed by the Greek Orthodox priests, political figures and the public. The procession leads down to the port when the Icon is stationed on a marble podium and speeches are made. The desire of members of the public to touch the icon often leads to a frenetic atmosphere as pilgrims try to touch the Icon itself. After the procession and speeches the Holy Icon is returned to the Church.
So if you’re planning a visit to Tinos this summer, why not choose to witness, and perhaps participate, in one of the most significant rituals in Greece.
Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip
meet our Local Insider
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A GUIDE?
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR JOB?
It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.
WHAT DESTINATION IS ON YOUR TRAVEL BUCKET-LIST?
I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!
Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.
KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?
Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world
Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.