The Cycladic island birdhouses caught my eye. I didn’t even know they were birdhouses at first, until I asked. They looked like actual houses. I was about to learn about the impressive bird dwellings of Tinos island.
Cycladic Island Birdhouses
The large whitewashed houses dotted the island’s landscape frequently enough that every time I passed, I had to wonder what they were built for. They were sturdy, symmetrically designed and the size of a small village house. Most seemed bigger than an average home. It was easy to see that much thought, design and care was taken to create them. Most were simply beautiful adorning various designs with the use of stone patterns, wood and marble decorations. I’d find out soon enough the structures were built — for the birds.
Known as the Dovecote
Tinos has an impressive collection of these birdhouse structures also known as dovecotes. If you look closely on other Cycladic islands, famous for their whitewashed architecture, you may find one here or there. A majority haven’t been kept up over the years and remain abandoned and worn down.
Tinos’ residents have kept many of them up. Some of the dovecotes have survived for more than 100 years, some date back to the 18th century. These history goes back even further. For centuries there was a systematic breeding of pigeons ever since the Venetians ruled the islands.
Not Just a Birdhouse
Pigeons were bred for their meat and their droppings were collected for fertilizer. The bottom floor acted as a place to store goods and supplies. The top part was perfect for, as you can tell, a pigeon hangout. Locals say there are more than 600 of these fancy birdhouses on the island and none are the same.
Unique Houses of Tinos
The builders of these Tinian dovecotes managed to create a specific type of architectural monument that is unique in the world — an eye-catching characteristic that’s spread throughout Tinos island’s landscape.
How to Get to Tinos
To get to the Greek islands, many international travelers arrive by air, usually with a change in Athens or another major city. There are some direct seasonal flights to certain island destinations too. You can find the best flight deals with Travelocity.
During the peak summer season, daily ferries link Tinos to Mykonos (30 minutes) and to Rafina (3 hours and 45 minutes) and Andros (1.5 hours).
A daily ferry leaves Athens Piraeus Port (5 hours).
There are also ferries from Thessaloniki, Crete, Skiathos, Santorini and Paros and weekly ferries from other ports and islands in Greece. Check www.openseas.gr for more details and updated time schedules.
Getting Around Tinos
The easiest way to get from point A to point B on the island is by driving. An international car rental company I can highly recommend is Avis Europe.
Where to Stay in Tinos
You can find my full reviews I wrote for Fodor’s about the best accommodation in Tinos here. I was very pleased with my stay at the Tinos Beach Hotel. Great staff and value for money. Perfect for families. Located a few kilometers from the main port, right next to a beach.
Where to Eat in Tinos
You can find my reviews I wrote for Fodor’s about the best Tinos restaurants here.
What do you think of the Cycladic island birdhouses of Tinos?