Tinos Footpath Tales



Vanishing Tinos

I was on the ferry from Tinos to Rafina, when I met my long lost friend Irene and her husband. They had recently become Tinos homeowners, and after the requisite social updating we found ourselves commiserating on “how Tinos had changed for the worst” and “how the island that we knew was vanishing”. The island my friend knew, that is, i.e. Tinos from the ‘90’s, because few were the Athenians or others that would venture past the pilgrimage site of the Virgin in the capital of Hora. The talk came to the Hellenic Company for Civilization and the Environment, and how they, too, try to preserve bits and pieces of “Tinos of yesteryear” and how they were trying to promote Tinos’ footpaths. It was in such a haphazard way that I realized that there is an interest in Tinos trails, or that footpaths may hold secrets about the past of the island.

Aerial Photographs

By coincidence, I had been looking over some aerial photos of Tinos, “flying over” my grandmother’s village, the fields and paths that I remember having walked as a child. I could clearly see the houses, my grandfather’s vineyard, and many trails that I recognized from trips I had made 40 years earlier… Browsing over those aerials, I learned a lot about the history of Tinos. As I copied the photos from a friend, who had copied them from another friend, and so on, I still have to identify and either thank, or compensate, whichever bit of the Hellenic Republic for their use.

Memories from the 60's

I remember those endless footpaths; with stonewall on each side, which in the 60’s where taller than I, interfering with the view. I remember endless climbing up and down “mountains” through fields of maquis, garigue or whatever the thorny frygana bushes covering the landscape are called, through gentle ravines with water snakes; and cobble stones that had been worn smooth from countless hooves of donkeys loaded with vine clippings, barley, distended wine skins and, almost invariably, with their owner. I had the privilege of experiencing Tinos in the 60’s.


In the 60’s Tinos was a subsistence farming island. The typical family lived off barley, a couple of cows, a pig, 10-20 chicken, a few sheep or goats, a garden for the bare minimum produce, 3-4 olive trees. The privileged few owned arable flat land in Livadi, permitting the growth of wheat, excess produce and animal fodder. Very few had bees and the craft was a well kept secret. The area known as Pano Meri had excess wine production. Other villages had their own specialties, Volax focusing on basket weaving, Pyrgos on marbe and rudimentary iron working etc. The whole of Exo Meri was living primarily off marble quarrying and processing.

Tinos stuck to its medieval routines and chores.  Villages had their “criers” announcing the compulsory tasks each adult had to undertake, including the repair and maintenance of trails. The tiny gardens would have strictly regulated water rights “from the time the sun would reach the church of Aghia Ypakoi, up until it would be two reeds high in the sky”, something like 6:30 to 8:00 a.m.

The island had some internal commerce, and would export specific surplus or other products. Barley and potatoes would be loaded in Colymbithra Bay. Barley would be shipped into Isternia bay, transported up the mountain top windmills, by donkey, and ground into flour for re export. Exo Meri had marble quarries.  All in all, the Tinos footpaths and trails were quite busy in the 60’s and life was pretty much as it had been 200 or 700 years earlier.

An island peculiarity was that most farmers would not have a single property, but many small, dispersed ones, some quite far from the the others. So it would be quite common to have the cows in a separate field from the chicken, far from the barley or the fodder; the vineyard could be miles away from the vegetable garden. The cows might have to be walked to a water source, a quarter of an hour’s walk, sometimes twice a day. From high up, the footpaths would exhibit an endless commotion and traffic from before dawn, to after dusk.

My grandfather's routes

My grandfather’s day would start at 5 a.m., when he would leave the house to water and milk the cows. He would set off on foot, or by donkey, leaving Kelia, passing the “Fore Ravine” and then the “Back Ravine”, to the extant village of Gonaria (not far from Aetofolia), descend to Vrysi, aptly named as a watering hole (in the Kannava ravine), climb to Zarpa, cross Alonaki, the “Tall House”, Pyrgia (the site of probably Hellenistic tower ruins), another couple mild ravines, before reaching Passara, where the cows were kept. He would be back at the village by 8:30 a.m., having concluded a 6-7 mile trip, before setting off for the remainder of his chores. He would repeat this trip over and over again, in other seasons, to transport barley, grapes or must or “raki”.  His fodder and produce land were in Livadi in a totally different direction. Sheep too were far away, up the mountain, as they were kept in less fertile land.


In the summer farmers would sell their excess produce in the market in Hora. This meant getting up at 2 or 3 a.m. leaving Kelia with wicker baskets loaded on the donkey, traversing several villages on the way, past Komi, Loutra, Xinara, and Ktikados, before reaching the downhill towards Hora. They would be back home by 2 or 3 in the afternoon, having walked 17 or 18 miles on the footpaths which are the subject of this stream of consciousness. This farmers’ market activity continues today, except that farmers use pick up truck.


The "modern" road was built, and a bus appeared in the 60's, at about the same time as emigration to Athens became the norm, as was the case in earlier times, towards Constantinople and Smyrna  (Tinos was a refuge during the starvation of the war years).  Those that remained behind relied on donkeys for commuting to their fields and on the bus and pick-up trucks to move to town.  Barley production, the mainstay of the medieval Tenian economy, ended sometime in the late 70’s.  In the late 80’s those who had left in the 60’s, now nearing retirement age, started coming back.

The 90’s, either due to our EU affiliation, or to the newly found affluence, summer residents started appearing. Those tended to congregate in Southern Tinos, with a view to the sea. This resulted in the landscape inland remaining intact, at least for a while, with a sense of desolation similar to that experienced by Ulysses when he landed on the island that still had vineyards and fig trees, but which seemed to be empty of people.  Today, the island is full of memories, few farmers that persist in their ways, empty houses and the medieval paths. An endless network of hand made stonework paths and roads; endless paths with unknown destinations or purpose.  Clearly, this network was not constructed for fun, or to entertain modern day visitors, as is the case with the endless terraces that transformed mountains into fields and orchards.

Geography and History

What, I believe, makes Tinos special, is its geography and its history. It is a relatively large mountainous Greek island, with a plateau that seems to capture rain. The rock formations manage to retain the water which emerges as life sustaining springs. The island is windy, and its beaches are not quite hospitable to sea farers.  Tinos had Venetian masters (or, rather, was a part of Venice) until 1715, and it has been a Christian refuge throughout the Middle Ages.  It has been a target for pirates and related villains for ever.  The Turkish occupation lasted only from 1715 to 1821, but the island must have suffered from the Turko-Venetian wars (for the control of Crete, Evia, and the Aegean).  Tinos, however, had an effective defense, with organized conscription, decentralized administration, a system of observation and communication posts, and a thorough road system.

Handmade road system

To go the subject of this story, it seems to me that the Tenians, locals and refugees, in an attempt to survive in periods of overpopulation, dug and cultivated every bit of land, having aggregated in villages around natural springs.  Plots of land were carved out of the stony hills, all fenced with stonework, all with road (footpath) access. That is how the terraces and endless footpaths were built.  Now, whether it was by locals or refugees, I do not know. I have read that Tinos has been depopulated by disease and hunger, and subsequently repopulated, several times.

What we see today, at least inland, is medieval, probably before 1715, with traces of Byzantine, Roman, Hellenistic and older activity.  The footpath network is evidence of this continuity. It passes by springs and existing and extinct villages. Roads emanate from each village towards nearby fields, animal shelters, orchards, windmills and ancient ruins. All roads lead to Xombourgo, the volcanic fortified outcrop in the middle of the island. They meet other roads leading to villages or forgotten ports. They cross remnants of churches built before 1200 AD, in communities lost when the Arabs devastated the Aegean.

Το δίκτυο από ψηλά


Από ψηλά, το δίκτυο φαίνεται ξεκάθαρα και ο εναέριος παρατηρητής δεν έχει παρά να βρει και να ακολουθήσει την διπλή γραμμή που υποδηλώνει ξερολιθιά δεξιά και αριστερά από τον δρόμο (ή το περιφραγμένα χωράφια δίπλα στο δρόμο). Κάθε ευρύτερη περιοχή (Έξω, Κάτω, Μέσα και Πάνω Μέρη) έχει τα χωριά της. Τα χωριά συνδέονται μεταξύ τους με δίκτυο που ταυτόχρονα δίνει πρόσβαση και στα περιβόλια και χωράφια γύρω από κάθε χωριό. Που και που υπάρχει κάποιος δρόμος «εξπρές» που παρακάμπτει χωριά και πηγαίνει κατά μήκος ισοϋψούς (όσο αυτό είναι δυνατό στο βραχώδες τοπίο) από το ένα μέρος στο άλλο. Τέτοιος δρόμος φαίνεται καθαρά να περνάει πάνω από τα Υστέρνια και τον ναό της «β΄ εύρεσης» προς την Αγία Μαρίνα και από εκεί προς τον Κάμπο και το Ξώμπουργο ή εναλλακτικά προς το λιμάνι του Σταυρού. Το δίκτυο στα Πάνω Μέρη (με τα σχετικά μεγαλύτερα και επίπεδα χωράφια) είναι λιγότερο χαώδες από το δίκτυο των Κάτω Μερών που είναι σε πιο κεκλιμένο έδαφος και οι ιδιοκτησίες φαίνονται να είναι μικρότερες. Το δίκτυο των Υστερνίων και της Καρδιανής έχει ένα ατέλειωτο ανεβοκατέβασμα στην πλαγιά του βουνού σε αναζήτηση του πολυπόθητου περιβολιού.


Όλοι οι δρόμοι οδηγούν στο Ξώμπουργο. Τον μεσαίωνα, όταν φαίνονταν στην θάλασσα ύποπτο πλοίο, το μήνυμα έφτανε στο Κάστρο και τα χωριά, με σύστημα φωτιών και καπνού, και ενεργοποιούσε τους 5 λόχους των 250 ή 300 ανδρών (και μάλλον έστελνε τους υπόλοιπους να κρυφτούν). Σίγουρα αυτή η ενεργοποίηση δεν θα ήταν δυνατή χωρίς οδικό δίκτυο.


Παρ’ όλο ότι και τον μεσαίωνα η Τήνος δεν φημιζόταν για τα καλά λιμάνια της, το δίκτυο είναι υπαρκτό προς και από τον Πάνορμο, τον Σταυρό, την Χώρα και τον Πόρτο. Πριν το 1960 κανένας φυσιολογικός Τηνιακός δεν πήγαινε στην θάλασσα για αναψυχή. Η θάλασσα επί σειρά αιώνων ήταν το μέρος από όπου έρχονταν οι πειρατές, ή ο δρόμος του ξενιτεμού. Σε πιο πεζό επίπεδο, στην θάλασσα πήγαιναν το 1960 για να μαζέψουν αλάτι, να βρούνε κανένα κομμάτι ξύλο από κανένα μακρινό ναυάγιο, να πλύνουν τους ασκούς μετά την μεταφορά του μούστου, να παραλάβουν γουρουνάκια από την Μύκονο κλπ. Φυσικά από την θάλασσα άρχισαν να έρχονται (ξανά μετά από χρόνια) και οι προσκυνητές και, πιο πρόσφατα, οι επήλυδες.


Το οδικό δίκτυο των μονοπατιών είναι τμήμα της ιστορίας της χειροποίητης Τήνου (και της επιβίωσης των κατοίκων της).  Από τα μέσα της δεκαετίας του ’70 άρχισε να πέφτει σε αχρηστία και να χάνεται είτε μέσα στα φρύγανα, είτε από τα αδέσποτα κατσίκια που γκρεμίζουν τα ντουβάρια, είτε από την διάνοιξη «αμαξωτών» δρόμων.  Οι σημερινοί καινούργιοι κάτοικοι της Τήνου γνωρίζουν  ίσως πόσο στοιχίζει ένα μέτρο ξερολιθιάς (πέτρες και χτίσιμο) έξω από το εξοχικό τους.  Ίσως να μην συνειδητοποιούν ότι υπάρχει μεσαιωνικό ή παλαιότερο δίκτυο δρόμων και μονοπατιών, εκατοντάδων χιλιομέτρων, με ξερολιθιά δεξιά και αριστερά, που σιγά-σιγά χάνεται.

Επόμενα βήματα

Αν αυτό εδώ ήταν έντυπο άρθρο, θα αισθανόμουν την ανάγκη να γράψω κάποιον βαρυσήμαντο επίλογο. Ευτυχώς όμως είναι στο διαδίκτυο και μπορώ εύκολα να συμπληρώσω.  Για παράδειγμα, σήμερα, τέλη Αυγούστου 2008, ένα καλό παιδί περνάει τα στοιχεία των μονοπατιών σε AutoCAD, που με την σειρά του θα μπορεί να μπει σε πρόγραμμα επεξεργασίας γεωγραφικών δεδομένων (GIS). Παράλληλα, όπως έχω αναφέρει και στο www.ophioussa.blogspot.com, συμπληρώνουμε κομμάτια των μονοπατιών που δεν φαίνονται στην αεροφωτογραφία, αλλά ξέρουμε ότι υπάρχουν, με GPS. Εικάζω ότι από περίπου 950 χιλιόμετρα, το δίκτυο θα ξεπεράσει τα 1.100 χιλιόμετρα. Πάνω σε τμήμα του χάρτη, ο π. Αντώνης Φόνσος, έχει σημειώσει παλιές εκκλησίες, γνωστούς και εικαζόμενους αρχαιολογικούς χώρους. Άκουσα ότι ο καθηγητής. Γεώργιος Στουρνάρας έχει σημειώσει τις πηγές σε ψηφιακό χάρτη… Έτσι, σιγά σιγά, θα βλέπουμε την «Τήνο που χάνεται», αν και αμφιβάλλω αν μπορούμε να ανατρέψουμε την πορεία της εξέλιξής της…





This isn’t my grandfathers’ vineyard, but instead, it is the town of Hora and the port of Tinos in the late 90’s. By clicking the thumbnail you may see details of city life, but may also notice the white dotted trails leading to and from Hora, reminders of a previous way of life.


The path from Cambos to Xinara, through the now deserted and ruined villages of Couroupados and Carados. Click to enlarge. A slide show from the trail may be found here


The yellow paths are my grandfather's main routes. The NW one goes to Passara, Kakovoula and Halakia. The Easterly one crosses Livadi towards Aghia Loukia. The SW trail is the main trail to Hora via Perastra, Loutra and Xinara. The tiny Westerly line is the steepest path to the mountain, through Aghia Ypakoi.

Click to enlarge


The path from Loutra (top center) continues South to Hora. The Church may be seen bottom center. It appears that the principal destination was slightly to the left, westward, to the medieval and ancient port of Stavros, near the temple of Amphitrite at Kionia. The direct connection of the Castle at Xombourgo with Stavrow is also apparent. The three villages are Ktikados, Hatzirados and Tripotamos.

Click to enlarge

tinos paths only

The central nervous and circulatory system of Tinos. A network of over 600 miles of handmade paths

Click to enlarge

Έλεγαν οι παλιοί ότι κάποτε κυνηγούσαν οι Τούρκοι κάτι χωριανούς, και εκείνοι πήγαν να κρυφτούν στην Καμένη Σπηλιά, αλλά έπεσε το κουβάρι μιας γυναίκας και τους βρήκαν και τους έκαψαν. Η πρόσβαση στην σπηλιά είναι δύσκολη και επικίνδυνη, αλλά πολλοί έχουμε βρει ανθώπινα κόκκαλα μέσα, χωρίς να ξέρουμε τίποτα παραπάνω

Κλίκ στην εικόνα για μεγέθυνση Φωτογραφίες από την διαδρομή


μονοπάτι του Καπουτσίνου

Από την Αγία Μαρίνα το μονοπάτι πάει βορειοδυτικά προς την β' εύρεση αφού περάσει από μία πηγή, (κάτω από το Τρικόκαστρο) και μπροστά από το Μελισσοβούνι. Το μονοπάτι διακόπτεται από την άσφαλτο, στους ερειπωμένους ανεμόμυλους, και συνεχίζει προς Πλατειά και Πάνορμο. Φωτογραφίες από την διαδρομή εδώ.

tinos thumbnail

Με κλικ στην εικόνα, φαίνεται η αεροφωτογραφία της Τήνου με τα μονοπάτια που διέκρινα σαν διπλή άσπρη γραμμή. Το πρωτότυπο αρχείο είναι μεγαλύτερο, με μεγαλύτερη ευκρίνεια, και είναι στην διάθεση όποιου το θέλει.

Δεν σημείωσα μονοπάτια που ξέρω ή εικάζω ότι υπάρχουν, αλλά δεν φαίνονται. Αυτά, με GPS σε δεύτερη φάση.