The Exomvourgo-Some History


Prehistoric and ancient periods

There is evidence that the region had been inhabited in the prehistoric period (walls, dwellings, cemetaries). It was contenually inhabited but probably with interruptions. From the ancient times there are traces of sanctuaries and temples (Demeter, Persephone). After the establishment of the ancient city (to the north of the present one). The region was abandoned.

  Byzantine period

During this period of pirate attacks, the inhabitants returned again to the interior of the island with Exombourgo their capital. During this period, the first fortification was built and called “St. Helen`s Castle” named after the tiny chapel at the summit. Actually the island, as well as all of the Cyclades were under constant threat of attack.

Venetian period

After the 4th crusade (1204)the brothers Jeremie and Andre Ghisi arrived in Tinos in 1207. The Ghisi dynasthy governed the island for 183 years (1207 – 1390). The “Castle of Tinos” as is inferred to, in documents of the times, served to protect first of all the Ghisi family and also the inhabitants against the attacks of the pirates and the Turks. The island also served as a base to launch attacks on the other islands occupied by the Franks. In 1390 the last Ghisi died (Bartholomew III) without heirs.A 40 year intermediary period followed. After 1430 a Venetian military officer with the title “Rector of Tinos and mykonos” governed the island. In 1537 the island was occupied by Barbarossa for several months in the name of the Sultan. In 1715 the Turks invaded the island and in three days the castle was completely destroyed.

The description of the castle

Between 1480 – 1490 the high towers were taken down and rebuilt according to the specifications of the times. After Barbarossa, Venice started to re-fortify with the architect a certain Maregiti who died in 1561. The ramperts had a length of approx. 600 metres. Towers were erected facing all directions. After this last reconstruction, there were 677 houses – (204 for its “citizens” and the remaining for the villagers), 5 curches storage areas, water reservoirs. The population is estimated to have numbered between 1000 and 2000 persons.

The disgraceful end

the inhabibants of Tinos succsessfully repulsed their invaders many times. But by 1715 Venice had already begun its decline. In the east especially it had lost most of its holdings. Tinos was left alone to defend itself against a much stronger enemy in June of 1715, and managed to hold on, but for reasons not exactly known, the Rector and military commander made a pact with the Turks and handed over the castle. Within 3 days the Turks exploded the fortifications and demolished everything. After 508 years of domination, the Venetian presence ended less than horably.

And the present

It seems that the rock which we today call “Exombourgo” continues to touch the hearts of the inhabitants as it did back then. After the destruction by the invading Turks the inhabitants settled “Exombourgo” (outside the castle) and continued to prosper as testified by the ancient ruins of the catholic cathedral (on the right, descending) and the church of the Sacred Heart. Later and gradually the population dispersed to various settlements creating large villages. The civil authorities moved to “Hora” (the city) and the catholic bishop transfered to Xinara. Despite the madness of the Ottoman Turks who literally flattened the fortress, and the indifference of the Greek State which does not take measures to preserve these monuments and ruins, the visitor today can still admire the vestige of a glorious history.