Tilos island

Tilos geographical position

We find Tilos in the southeastern Aegean Sea, situated between Nisyros and Halki. It is one of the smallest clusters of islands that is 209 sea miles from Piraeus and 48 miles from Rhodos. We meet Nisyros at a distance of 13 km, Halki in 18 km, Simi in 34 km and the Near East peninsula of Knidos in 20 km. The little island Antitilos is situated just 2 miles from Tilos. Within a longer or shorter distance from Tilos coasts, 16 small islands and rocky islets are situated. Its entire size is 63 km2 and its coastal length is 63 km. Its terrain is – basically – rocky, semi-mountainous and mountainous and Ai-Lias is its highest mountain top (612 m). The small fertile valley of Eristos in the middle of the island that comes down to the beautiful beach of Eristos constitutes an exception in Tilos. In Megalo Horio, the soil is more or less fertile, because of the number of springs with good water quality that traverse underground. Many gulf formations, caves and beautiful beaches complete the variety of the island morphological formation.

History of Tilos island

During the years of its existence, the island was inhabited by a mixture of nations and accepted a mixture of civilizations. The island passed sequentially from pre-Greeks to Dorians in 1000 BC, after that to the Venetians, to the Knights of St. John in 1310 AD, to the Turks in 1552 AD, in order to return to the modern arms of its maternal Hellenistic past in 1948. Tilos was inhabited from the Neolithic era (8000-7000 BC), to which the important and impressive paleontological findings of prehistoric elephants bear witness. Their skeletons were found after the excavations that took place in Charkadio cave. Other excavations prove the Minoans and subsequently the Mycenaeans also lived on Tilos, as in other Dodecanese islands. The island was also inhabited by the Pelasgians and this can be seen from the walls that were found.Herodotus spoke of the golden age of Tilos in the 7th century BC, during which Tilini of Gelas colonized Sicily with Tilos islanders and Lindos residents. In the 5th century BC, Tilos became part of the Athenian confederacy and remained dependent upon the island of Rhodes, until it passed to the Romans. The richness of the archaeological finds dating from the Roman and early-Christian times reflects the island prosperity. As long ago as 350 BC, the poet Irinna was born on Tilos and at an early age became inspired by the rich and diverse natural beauty of the island, the variety of its landscapes and the surrounding Aegean Sea. Its prosperity continued until the great earthquake of 550 AD. After that, Tilos followed the history of Rhodes, with which it was unified. During the Byzantine era Tilos together with Nisyros, Kos and Samos constituted the Prefecture of Samos. The Knights of St. John inhabited the island and rebuilt or built three of the castles that exist on the island. In 1522 the island became part of the Ottoman Empire and was under the special financial and administrative status of “maktou” islands. Finally, in 1948 Tilos returned to the modern arms of its maternal Hellenistic past. From pre-Greeks the island passed sequentially to the Dorians in 1000 BC.

Culture of Tilos

The rich cultural tradition of Tilos is directly connected to its history. Samples of Tilos civilization are its ancient and Byzantine monuments, the castles, the caves, the churches, the monasteries and the rare icons and hagiographies. Specifically, during the Byzantine era, strong artistic creativity was developed in ecclesiastical activity. The excavations of the skeletons of pygmy elephants dating back to 4,500 BC in Charkadio cave are considered a very important fact. The island flourished during the Classical era, during which it had its own mint and it was known for its fine-spun clothes and its perfumes. Tilos was the birthplace of the ancient poet Irinna, contemporary of Sapfo, who became inspired by the natural beauty of the island, its aromas, its vegetation and its calmness. Through her poetry in praise of Tilos, she passed on to us the most noble of human values. Finally, the oppressors Lelon and Leron, the establishers of Big Greece, came from Tilos.

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