Rich land and rich history; catholic villages (except the orthodox Sklavohorio); Italian names; dovecotes; monasteries; and a unique lunar scenery compose the inner land puzzle. The point of reference is Exomvourgo or Castle, the Venetian capital city of the island. Built on a steep rock, where used to be the ancient citadel, at the south of which was devel¬oped the ancient city and later the Venetian Burgo. Thanks to the fortified castle of Agia Eleni (Saint Helen Fortress), the island survived innumer¬able raids for more than Ι500 years. Today, one can find there a catholic (Jesus’ Sacred Heart) and an orthodox pilgrimage (Zoodohos Pigi, which means Life-giving Spring). Exomvourgo is dom¬inant on the night picture of Tinos, thanks to the illuminated marble cross at mountain top.
In Kampos, it is worth seeing the church of Agia Ekaterini (Saint Catherine), built by Orloff in honour of empress of Russia Catherine II, around 1770 AD and the Tsoclis’ Museum. A well-cared path leads to the dove¬cotes valley in Tarampados. It is a unique opportunity to admire closely the details of the dovecotes and to take pictures of some of the oldest and most impressive ones of the island. In picturesque Smardakito you can see some of the most typical two-village, where there is also a taverna.
The heart of the catholic community beats in picturesque Xinara. The build¬ing of the catholic Archdiocese hosts the offices of the municipality of Exomvou-rgo, and an extremely enlightening archive concerning the local history. It is worth visiting the catholic Metropolis of Our Lady of the Rosary. The village small theatre hosts events of the sum-mer festival.
It is hard to believe that the nowadays deserted Loutra was once a full-of-life small state in the inner island, with more than 500 inhabitants, water springs and rich land and a boarding school unique for the Balkans (Ursulines’ school, 1862), that offered French education to daughters of rich families from Greece and abroad. The old school hosts today a public primary school and the summer local festival. A big interesting part of the school is open to visitors during summer. At the neigh-bouring Jesuit monastery (Ι66Ι) it is worth visiting the agricultural museum and the church of Saint Joseph with the coloured marble.
Opposite to Loutra is Krokos, that owes its name to the plant crocus (saf¬fron) which cannot be found anymore there. At the gorge of the village there are a traditional cafee and tavernas. Over Krokos is situated Skalados, with several permanent inhabitants, and, at the foot of Exomvourgo, the traditional Koumaros, with a view to the inner island.
Gorgeous Volax, with the granite boulders that are still waiting for a sat¬isfactory meaning, writes inside us with the lunar scenery and the eerie silence. The village has a folk-art museum, two tavernas and a stone open-air theatre, hosting summer events. Try not to miss the opportunity to watch closely the last basket-weavers working.
It is not just its name, but also the romantic atmosphere that makes this village so special: Agapi (Love), a dream-like village. The waters in the gorge with the dovecotes, flow over a green-marble bed, adding one more dream-like element to the overall fairy scenery.
On the opposite side is the small Sklavohorio, the birth place of famous painter Nikolaos Gyzis, where one can visit his home (of birth).
The whitened catholic church of St. Joseph doesn’t seem to match with the ruins in Monastiria, a ghost-village today, relatively recently deserted. Small Perastra, with the little stone bridges and some water-mills ruins, was one of the most visited villages, since the Chora-Kato Meri connecting road passed from here.
The largest village of the area, Komi, managed to keep several inhabitants who work mainly in agriculture, since here is the only green plain of the and meets the Chora-Pyrgos connecting road.
Before reaching Kalloni, the road on the right ends also in Pyrgos, passing through Kato Klisma, Aetofolia and tis Koris o Pyrgos.
Aetofolia’s (Eagle nest) name can perfectly be understood as the village is nested higher from every other plain vil-lage here, with a panoramic view. It also used to be center of pottery art, thanks to ceramists coming from the island of Sifnos.
In Kalloni, there are a kindergarten, small tavernas, a cafe and a grocery. The village used to be called Kelia (cells) because of the nearby monastery Agia Ipakoi. The natural next stop is Karkados, where the main visiting sight is the bell-tower of church of Our Saviour (Sotiras), which is also humor¬ously called by the locals little “Piza” because it’s leaning.
Located in a well protected bay from the north winds, Kolympithra beach (or Mikri Ammos, meaning Small Sand) is a darling summer meeting place for those who live or spend summer holi-days in Kato Meri, with picturesque small tavernas, a beach bar, deck-chairs and parasols. In summer, the beach hosts a beach-volley cup and a well-known beach-party. Exactly on the opposite side, there is an amazing but, unfortunately, exposed to the north wind beach (Megali Ammos), with a dune, small rock-caves, a beach bar and a windsurfing school. On the other side, the beaches of Apothikes and Palios Agios Fylaktos.
Even though Kolymbithra is closer, the inhabitants of Kampos, Tarampados and Smardakitos, because they have their farming lands on the north-west coast, consider “their” beaches those of Agios Romanos, Apigania and Kantani. The access to the settlement and the long shadowy beach of Agios Romanos is easy, and there is a taverna too. The other two, can be reached only on foot or by boat, so remember to carry water. Idyllic beaches with crystal-clear water and high possibility you won’t need to share with anybody!