Church of the Annunciation

Tinos

People on the stairs in front of pilgrimage basilica Panagia Evangelistria, Tinos-town, island of Tinos, the Cyclades, Greece, Europe

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Tinos’ religious focus is this large church and its icon of Our Lady of Tinos. It was uncovered in 1823 in the ruins of a chapel beneath the current church, after a nun, now St Pelagia, received visions from the Virgin instructing her where to find it. From the start, the icon was said to have healing powers but the timing of its discovery has also inextricably linked it with the rebirth of the Greek nation, thus encouraging mass pilgrimage.

As you enter the church, the icon is to the left of the aisle, the image almost completely obscured by jewels. Hundreds of silver lamps hang from the ceiling, each dangling a votive offering: a ship, a cradle, a heart, a pair of lungs, a chainsaw.

The frilly Renaissance-style church, built in 1830 of marble from the island’s Panormos quarries, lies within a pleasant courtyard flanked by cool arcades. A disconcerting amount of graffiti is etched into the marble balustrades, some of it dating back well over 100 years. Beneath the church is a baptistery comprising three interconnected vaulted chapels, marking the site where the famous icon was discovered.

The complex has sweeping views all around and museums (with variable hours and poor signage) that house collections of religious artefacts, icons and secular art.

Respectful attire must be worn.