Cultural Corridors of South East Europe

South East Europe / Western Trans-Balkan Road

Intangible heritage of the Cyclades

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Intangible heritage of the Cyclades

About the site

Corridor: Western Trans-Balkan Road
Country: Greece, Cyclades
Type: Intangible Heritage
Theme: Intangible Heritage
World Heritage:
Intangible HeritageIntangible Heritage

Sifnos is an island of the Cyclades group in which ancient traditions continue to live.
Pottery is the leading craft in Sifnos. The first samples of pottery art date back to the early Cycladic period (small statues, decorative items and utensils) and this art continues since then until today.
The island's wealth in raw materials (argil deposits, abundant waters, strong sun) as well as the skilful hands of technicians have helped this art develop. They used to make house utensils, vessels for cooking (mastelas, skepastarias, pot etc) pots for carrying liquids (urns, jugs, half jugs, jars etc.) as well as other utensils (braziers, 'armeos', 'dipseli' etc). Manufacturing such pots was so known that the adjective Sifnian became a synonym of 'potter'.
Sifnos has also remained faithful to others of its old traditions. It has preserved many of the old customs, such as panigiria, (the celebration of a Saint's feast day), local carols, traditional weddings, carnival days, the feast of Mr. North, as well as a number of feasts that still maintain a connection with their pagan origins.
In most churches and monasteries, at least once a year, there is a celebration on the feast of their patron saint, which includes many elements reminiscent of pagan feasts, such as a common meal that always includes chickpeas cooked in the oven, spaghetti with meat sauce, or potatoes, or cod with potato salad, and, of course the ubiquitous wine (locally produced), and singing accompanied by traditional instruments (violin and lute).

The Island of Tinos of the Cyclades lies in the group of the islands of Andros and Mikonos in the Northern Cyclades. It is known for its stone carvers. Artistic objects of marble are visible everywhere in Tinos. Under your feet, when you are walking the streets, on the walls of houses when you look up, in public spaces – everywhere. All marble carvings are made with great love and fantasy.The unique marble of Tinos is white and green and was used in Buckingham Palace and The Louvre. Even today, that from the island has been removed an important part of the marble ornamentation, the island remains an outdoor-museum of folk marble-carving. The main examples of folk art are the churches, the cemeteries (particularly the tombstones of Pyrgos and Platies), the coast-of-arms, the fountains, the village laundry - areas, the fanlights and lintels, usually semicircular or square, which decorate houses and churches. It should be mentioned that in 1845, on the island of Tinos, marble carving and architecture were important pre-industrial establishments that occupied more than one thousand workers and craftsmen. Tinos is the native place of some of the greatest Greek sculptors such as Yannoulis Halepas, D. Philippotis, G.Vitalis, and L.Sochos. The artistic tradition of the island is kept alive and passed from generation to generation.

But the best way to feel the charm of the Cyclades is to try one of the delicious local specialties. Cycladic cuisine is rich of honey, wine, local cheese such as manoura and xynomizithri, chickpea, capers, figs as well as of all the gifts of the Aegean Sea – fish, mussels, octopuses etc. You can find restaurants, tavernas, ouzeri (the Greek style tapas-bar), cafes, pastry shops, traditional coffeehouses, as well as bars and discos in most towns.

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