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Panayia Evangelistria Review
The Tiniots, hardly unaware of the icon's potential, immediately built the splendid Panayia Evangelistria, or Church of the Annunciate Virgin, on the site, in 1823. Imposing and beautiful, framed in gleaming yellow and white, it stands atop the town's main hill ("hora"), which is linked to the harbor via Megalochari, a steeply inclined avenue lined with votive shops. Half Venetian, half Cypriot in style, the facade (illuminated at night) has a distinctive two-story arcade and bookend staircases. Lined with the most costly stones from Tinos, Paros, and Delos, the church's marble courtyards (note the green-veined Tiniot stone) are paved with pebble mosaics and surrounded by offices, chapels, a health station, and seven museums. Inside the upper three-aisle church dozens of beeswax candles and precious tin- and silver-work votives—don't miss the golden orange tree near the door donated by a blind man who was granted sight—dazzle the eye. You must often wait in line to see the little icon, encrusted with jewels, which was donated as thanks for cures. To beseech the icon's aid, a sick person sends a young female relative or a mother brings her sick infant. As the pilgrim descends from the boat, she falls to her knees, with traffic indifferently whizzing about her, and crawls painfully up the faded red padded lane on the main street—1 km (½ mi)—to the church. In the church's courtyards, she and her family camp for several days, praying to the magical icon for a cure, which sometimes comes. This procedure is very similar to the ancient one observed in Tinos's temple of Poseidon. The lower church, called the Evresis, celebrates the finding of the icon; in one room a baptismal font is filled with silver and gold votives. The chapel to the left commemorates the torpedoing by the Italians, on Dormition Day, 1940, of the Greek ship Helle; in the early stages of the war, the roused Greeks amazingly overpowered the Italians.
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