Pigeon Houses of Tinos
The pigeon houses are compositions of Greek folk architecture. They can be found in many islands of the Cyclades, such as in Sifnos, Paros and Mykonos but mainly in Tinos. On the island of Tinos there are nowadays about 600 pigeon houses, scattered in the 90 villages of the island, however it is believed that there were many more in the past (800-1300). It is estimated that the first pigeon houses were built during the Venetian period (1207-1715), according to official written evidence, dating from 1726. They were a symbol of noble origin and economic power. Only the very rich and landowners could afford to build and maintain such buildings. The more elaborate its ornaments were, the richer the owner was considered.
After the Venetians left, pigeon houses were ceded to locals. Pigeon breeding was spread and many new pigeon houses were built. The meat and manure from the feces were the main export product of the island, contributing significantly to the economic development of Tinos.
Pigeon houses used to be built in sheltered by the strong winds’ ravines or slopes, to help the unobstructed flight of pigeons, and always close to water sources. The dovecote of Tinos are usually two-storey buildings, 3-meter width, 3 meters length and about 5 meters height. They can house 50 pairs of pigeons which can give 200 kg of meat and 500 kg of dry manure. They have a small door on the north side. The lower floor is used as a warehouse and the upper floor houses the pigeons. The decorated sides are carved with squares, triangles, circles, diamonds, suns and flowers and never face north. All of the decorative shapes are made by local slate and are the places where pigeons could rest, protected from the sun, rain and wind. Each building has its own characteristics, making it unique.
The pigeon houses are excellent examples of folk art and monuments of cultural heritage. They are also the landmark of the island of Tinos.