Megalo Chorio is the capital of the island and has been built on the slopes of a mountain. Livadia is the main port and this is where most tourist facilities can be found. In the centre of the island, there are the remains of Mikro Chorio, a ghost village today that was gradually abandoned in the 1950s when its inhabitants moved to Livadia.
Since the island is not touristic developed, all beaches of the island are peaceful and relaxing. They are known for the clean water and picturesque ambience. Most of them are not organized, except for Livadia beach which has some umbrellas and sunbeds. The rest of the beaches are totally secluded and partly naturists. They can be accessed on foot or with the small local bus from Livadia.
Archaeologists have discovered that Tilos was first inhabited in the Neolithic times and during antiquity the island was well-known for its perfumes and salves. Excavations in Charkadio Cave, in the centre of the island, have revealed the bones of a strange kind of animals, the dwarf elephants, that dominated the island about 6 million years ago. These findings are exhibited today in the Paleontological collection in Megalo Chorio.
According to Greek mythology, the island took its name from a man named Tilos, son of god Helios. It is believed that Tilos used to gather therapeutic plants for his ill wife on this island and later on they built a temple to which he became the priest. The first inhabitants were Pelasgians and Minoans. In the 7th century BC, the residents of Tilos and Lindos, on Rhodes, founded a colony in Sicily, Italy, and in the 5th century,
Tilos became part of the Athenian League, as most islands of the Aegean.
In the 4th century BC, the island was independent and issued its own coins. In the centuries to follow, Tilos was a dependant of neighbouring Rhodes, which had a powerful naval power. In the second century BC, it was dominated by the Romans and then it was included in the Byzantine Empire. In 1309 AD, the history of Tilos is marked by the Venetian occupation. The Knights of Saint John conquered the island and built aCastle in Megalo Chorio to protect it from pirates.
In 1523, Tilos was conquered by the Ottomans and then in the 20th century by the Italians. It was incorporated to Greece in 1948, as the rest of the Dodecanese did. In the 1950s, the inhabitants were facing an economical decline and a large part of them moved to Rhodes, Athens or abroad. The rest were trying to make their living with agriculture and fishing. Now, Tilos is a small and remote island with about 500 inhabitants. Its economy is still based on agriculture, cattle breeding and fishing, while in summer, it receives few tourists seeking for peaceful vacations.
Museums - Archeological
Tilos island hosts two collections in Megalo Chorio: the Archaeological and the Paleontological Collection. The Archaeological Collection of Tilos exhibits pieces of classical vessels, small statues, ancient inscriptions and sculptures from the Classical and the Hellenistic Times. These findings were excavated on the island, mostly in the valley of Lakia, close to Megalo Chorio.
The Paleontological Collection of Tilos is of special interest. It presents the findings from the excavations of Charkadio Cave, in the centre of the island, where ancient pieces of pottery, Neolithic tools and fossils of dwarf elephants were found. There are also drawings and photographs from the excavations, which were held in the 1970s by the professor of geology, Nikolaos Symeonides.
Apart from these collections, if you wish to visit historical sites on Tilos, there is the Medieval Castle of Megalo Chorio, built in the 14th century by the Knights of Saint John. Of special interest is also the abandoned village of Mikro Horio, in a short distance from Livadia. Mikro Horio was gradually abandoned in the 1950s, as its residents were moving to Livadia. In Mikro Horio, you can see some nice churches and the ruins of old houses and a Castle.
Livadia beach, Eristos, Agios Antonios Beach, Plaka Beach
Religious Monasteries and Churches
While you enjoy your long walks in the beautiful trails of Tilos, you will come across some lovely churches, monasteries and tiny chapels. Close to Megalo Chorio is located the abandoned monastery of Agios Panteleimonas, the saint protector of Tilos. The 15th century site is surrounded by a green oasis and lies on a breathtaking location, 450m above the sea. It is worth a visit for its impressive frescoes and on July 25th the monastery organizes a three-day festival with food and local dances.
Smaller but equally interesting churches are found in Tilos like the church Archgangel Michael, built over the ruins of an ancient church, close to the medieval castle. From the dozens of tiny chapels scattered among the ruins, on top of the settlement is Panagia Theotokissa, the post-byzantine church of Agios Ioannis and the church of Panagia Kamariani. In Livadia village lies the church of Panagia Politissa, Agia Triada (Holy Trinity) a 13th century church, Agios Vasilios and Agios Nikolaos (15th century).