Wednesday, June 4, 2014

That Dovecote Day on Tinos Island

“Don’t miss the dovecotes!” we’d been told before our arrival on Tinos, the Cycladic Island best known for its church – that enormous one -- we featured last week.
Tinos is the third largest of the17 islands that make up the Greek Cyclades. Shaped somewhat like an arrowhead, this island is accessible only from the sea.  It’s about an hour ferry ride from neighboring islands of Mykonos or Syros; 4.5 from Athens. (Fast ferries take half the time and cost twice as much.) Its early name, Hydroussa was derived from ‘hydor’ water and ‘ofis’ snakes. Some say the present-day name is from the Phoenicians’ ‘tannoth’ another word for snakes.
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Dovecote. Quite frankly we weren’t quite sure what it was, let alone what we were looking for until that day we set out to explore the island. . .

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. . .and then we spotted these small structures looking like fairy tale castles, but in fact were dovecotes, the rather elaborate homes for doves and pigeons.

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There are still some 700 dovecotes on this island and they date back to the 18th and 19th Centuries; most built after the Venetian rule here ended. The raising of birds was such an important endeavor – they provided both meat and droppings (fertilizer) -- that in the Middle Ages a special law, Droit du Columbier, dictated that only feudal lords had the right to possess a dovecote.

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It is said that they 'remained in the collective conscience as a symbol of social excellence'. That might explain their elaborate stone ‘embroidery’ which decorates the smooth walls and made for little doors. The walls coupled with their elevated height and a sun drying yard on top kept snakes, cats and rats away.

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By use of the ‘embroidery’ each dovecote has a design unique to that structure. While strolling through one of the island’s villages, we noticed a ‘modern’ 1998 building, a home, we think (pictured below) which gave a nod to the island’s history by adding a ‘dovecote decoration’ including fake birds to its exterior.

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Our drive on the island’s narrow ‘highway’ (pictured below) was punctuated with exclamations, “There’s one!”, “Oh look. . .over there!” and, of course, my favorite refrain, “Stop! I need to take a picture!”

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Some appeared to be almost new structures and others showed the ravages of time. They were built near water in areas protected from the north wind (which can be fierce here) and in open spaces where the flying was good.

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One of the most ornate was in the heart of downtown Tinos town on property not far from the Church.

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And this one had real birds making use of it. . .or at least posing for me to take their photo!

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As I wrap this up I can’t help but think, “Isn’t it amazing what you can learn when you travel?” Those dovecotes, combined with the island’s villages, made our day’s outing one of those that you wistfully look back upon as ‘magical. So magical, that we’ll ‘take you’ to some of those villages soon. Until then, thanks so much for the time you spent with us today!

Tinos: If You Go:

Map picture
Rental Car: We paid 25-euro for a 24-hour rental. Rental agencies are along the waterfront near the ferry dock.
Hotel: Our room overlooking the harbor also had views of the island’s towering Mount Tsiknias, 40-euro (off-season).
Ferry to Athens: About $50 US per ticket.
Tip:  Take a hike on the path of the dovecotes in Tarambados, not far from Tinos town.

Click the links below for more armchair travel. We’ll be linking up with:
Travel Photo Thursday
Travel Photo Monday

24 comments:

  1. Amazing, really looks like the fairy tale castle...

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    1. Thanks for stopping by today - always appreciated!

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  2. Thanks for your visit today, Lilli. They were like little castles and the area - a fairy tale.

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  3. Wow...those are dovecoates! So majestic. I hope the doves in Tinos realize that they live such royal lives. It must be delightful driving around and seeing all these dovecotes. They make the landscape of the island even more picturesque. Thanks for this plesant virtual tour, Jackie and Joel!

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    1. It really was a game of 'hide and seek' it seemed as we twisted and turned our heads trying to be the next one to spot another of these crazy structures that dotted the island!

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  4. Now these are cool. I thought it was going to be some sort of construction used in churches but something for the birds is way more interesting. I can see why the day was magical.

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    1. I id find the history of the dovecotes here as interesting in its own way as that of the church which really does seem to run this island's tourism business.

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  5. Hi Jackie and Joel,

    I had never heard of these dovecoates before! It's amazing what I learn from you two and your travels! You have such a thirst for knowledge with regards to this great, wide world of ours, and I am appreciate of all the footwork you do for these fun and fabulous posts!

    Talk about 'shelter'!!!;))

    Happy weekend!

    Hugs,
    Poppy

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    1. Yes, when we were conversing about 'shelters' Poppy it does seem an interesting twist on the topic doesn't it. Have a good week ahead!

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  6. How interesting. I too had no idea what a dovecote was. In my mind I had an idea of a hideaway for human lovers! They are beautiful, thanks for showing them to us.

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    1. Oh Jan, wouldn't that be a fun name for a hotel or B and B? You had a great idea there!

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  7. What unbelievable structures. Such an interesting post, Jackie.

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    1. Thanks for stopping by today, Andrew and I am glad you enjoyed this one!

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  8. Wow! Just wow! They look so pretty. If only for them I'd like to get to visit Tinos.

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    1. You would love the hike to the dovecotes, I am certain of that!

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  9. I just love how they're decorated. That would take talent!

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    1. Yes, even if I had all the materials before me, I know my 'creation' would be sadly lacking the design of these wonderful structures.

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  10. LOL lordy to the narrow roads, Jackie! I love your adventures! We hope that all is well with you, our friend :)

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    1. The nicest part of the narrow roads is the few cars that you encounter on them, Mike. . .which gave us plenty of time to gawk. Glad you are back among us - your comments were missed!

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  11. How intricate those designs are...I love them...you have just officially moved Tinos way up my Greek Island list!

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    1. Oh Corinne, I am glad you've moved it up the list - I don't think you would regret a stop here!

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  12. Those are amazing. I always pictured dovecotes as simple birdhouses up on poles certainly never expected anything as elaborate as this. That someone was inspired to adorn their house in a similar style really speaks to the affection the islanders must have for the structures. What a wonderful little scavenger hunt to go on.

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    1. When I started researching this post, the only photos I could find of dovecotes were birdhouse on poles so I went back to my trusty Tinos resource book to make sure I hadn't dreamt the whole thing. Thanks for your visit, Michele.

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  13. As if these structures are just for birds - they are so beautiful!

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