In your travels to different countries, one of the most interesting parts of travel is the study of the country’s architecture. This becomes very evident when you see the Dovecotes on the island of Tinos in Greece, and see how they have influenced the architecture of other buildings. When we first visited Tinos, we scarcely knew what a dovecote was. But, I must say, Tinos is the place to go if you want to see a lot of them and learn something about them.
Pigeons or Doves have been raised for food and to supply fertilizer for hundreds of years, and was so important in the middle ages that a special law was passed and enforced by the Doge in Venice, the Le Droit des Columbiers, or law of lofts (pigeon towers), which allowed only feudal lords the right to own a dovecote and raise pigeons. This law was enforced by the Venetians during the occupation of Tinos from about 1200 to 1715. Once the Venetians left and the Turks took over, Tinians were allowed to raise their own pigeons, so continued to build dovecotes, creating a very distinctive architecture. In 1821 Tinos became part of what is now Greece.
Once the Venetians left, many dovecotes were built, the ones that have survived today were built in the 18th and 19th century. The design of dovecotes varied from country to country, so I am showing a quick screenshot from Google to illustrate the variety, (see photo 2) from cylindrical towers to small rectangular structures and the combination building we see on Tinos. Many of the ones on Tinos held the pigeon loft above, and space below for sheltering other animals, storage of supplies, food, etc. All of these buildings had some facility to remove their droppings, used as a very effective fertilizer.
There are hundreds of dovecotes spread around Tinos, some say they used to number as high as fifteen hundred.
The Tarabados valley and Kardiani village are two areas that still have many examples of beautiful dovecotes. The construction is solid below, with fancy stonework above, pieces of slate assembled in geometric designs, triangles, squares, circles. The open spaces in these designs form the entry/exit openings for the doves. Some are very complex designs, and the use of this style of construction is often carried over to the buildings, homes and even our favourite hotel has an outbuilding covered with ‘dovecote’ geometric designs.
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