Dovecotes in Tinos
Tinos Dovecotes: The island of Tinos is famous for the many intricately designed dovecotes found here. They are fortress-like stone structures with two levels of which the lower level is usually used to store utensils and other items. It is decorated with both geometric patterns including triangles and rhomboids and non-geometric patterns including cypress trees and variations of the sun. It is believed that these elaborate patterns are the reason why the pigeons are attracted to these dovecotes.
Most of these structures are found in the eastern and central parts of Tinos and the oldest ones are believed to be from the 18th and the 19th Century. It was the Venetians who first started systematic breeding of pigeons after discovering that their meat was excellent tasting and those pigeon droppings are made for some high-quality manure.
This is probably the reason that Tinos is one of the most fertile areas in Greece. In fact, even as far back as 1701, the traveler Piton de Tournefort wrote that Tinos was "the best-cultivated island" in the Aegean.
Once the Venetians came up with a plan to attract and breed pigeons, all that was left to do was to implement this idea. The Venetians already had skilled craftsmen who immediately extended their ability to build artistic houses, chapels, windmills, and elaborate dovecotes. The right to raise pigeons was reserved to Venetian nobles till they finally left the island after which the locals carried on this unique practice and continue to date.
As opposed to dovecotes in other parts of Greece, the ones in Tinos are much more than just simple wooden boxes set on poles. These dovecotes are usually built in the countryside at specific locations near cultivated areas and where water is easily available. They are mainly built on slopes at a certain angle keeping the wind and the surroundings in mind to make the takeoffs and landings easier for the doves. The dove nests are square holes in single or double rows in the wall of the dovecote. Small stone slabs that protrude under the homes create a perch for the birds.
Today, you will spot plenty of dovecotes near Komi, Krokos Village, Tarabados Valley, and Kardiani Village. Though the exact number of these dovecotes is not known, it can be said for a fact that it exceeds six hundred. Dovecotes have also influenced Tinos' architecture in general so much so that you will even see some houses built in the same way today. The best thing about them is that they are very well preserved many are still in use and can be found all over the island. These dovecotes are unique masterpieces and in many ways are trademarks of the island of Tinos.