Last updated
Livadhia tilos.jpg
View over Livadia, the port and main village on Tilos
Greece location map.svg
Red pog.svg
Location within the region
2011 Dimos Tilou.png
Coordinates: 36°26′N27°22′E / 36.433°N 27.367°E / 36.433; 27.367
Administrative region South Aegean
Regional unit Rhodes
  Municipality64.525 km2 (24.913 sq mi)
Highest elevation
654 m (2,146 ft)
Lowest elevation
0 m (0 ft)
 (2011) [1]
  Municipality density12/km2 (31/sq mi)
Time zone UTC+2 (EET)
  Summer (DST) UTC+3 (EEST)
Postal code
850 02
Area code(s) 22460
Vehicle registration ΚΧ, ΡΟ, ΡΚ
Website www.tilos.gr

Tílos (Greek : Τήλος; Ancient Greek : Τῆλος, romanized: Telos) is a small Greek island and municipality located in the Aegean Sea. It is part of the Dodecanese group of islands, and lies midway between Kos and Rhodes. [2] In 2022, the island had a population of 745 people. [3] [1] Along with the uninhabited offshore islets of Antitilos and Gaidaros, it forms the Municipality of Tilos, which has a total land area of 64.525 square kilometres (24.913 sq mi). [4] Tilos is part of the Rhodes regional unit. [5]


Popularly, Telos was the son of Helios and Halia, the sister of the Telchines. He came to the island in search of herbs to heal his ill mother, and later returned to found a temple to Apollo and Neptune. However, Telos (Telo or Tilo) does not appear in Greek mythology and the name probably has an unknown pre-Hellenic origin. Pliny the Elder notes that in antiquity Telos was known as Agathussa (Αγαθούσσα) (also Agathusa and Agathousa). In the Middle Ages, it was known by the Italian as Episcopio, either because it was a Bishop Seat or because its position as Vantage Point. [6] The island has also been called in Turkish İlyaki and in modern Italian Piscopi. [6] [7]



Pottery and stone tools discovered in Charkadio cave indicate human activity on Tilos in the early Neolithic period (8000 BC to 7000 BC), along with the large assembly of bones of 1.2-to-1.6-metre-tall (3-foot-11-inch-to-5-foot-3-inch) dwarf elephants, carbon dated to between 4000 and 7000 BC (some now in the museum). Masseti (2001) suggests coexistence of these animals with humans, possibly into the historic period.

Aegean Bronze Age

Excavation has identified Pelasgian masonry, as well as suggesting Tilos was successively dominated by Minoans, Mycenaeans and Dorians.

Classical antiquity


Tilos followed Rhodes into the Byzantine Empire, following the death of Theodosius I, and was a member of the naval Theme of Samos between the 9th and 14th century.


Map of Tilos, 1547 Map of Tilos - Bordone Benedetto - 1547.jpg
Map of Tilos, 1547

The Knights of Saint John took control of Tilos from 1309, restoring the Byzantine castles, and building new ones in order to defend against pirate raids. It was evacuated in 1470 as the Ottomans began the Siege of Rhodes and control passed to Suleiman I in 1522 when Rhodes fell.


In 1523, Tilos was conquered by the Ottoman Empire and the island was put under the privileged administrative and tax system known as "maktou." Christian pirates pillaged the island constantly.

19th-century antiquarian research

Athenian vase fragment attributed to the Telos Painter (c. 400-300 BC) from the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford Telos Painter - ARV 1425 9 - Dionysos and satyrs - Oxford AM 1956-372.jpg
Athenian vase fragment attributed to the Telos Painter (c.400–300 BC) from the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford

Despite its relative significance in Classical times, the island has left little in the way of its earlier material culture other than elements of its architectural remains and finds of its coinage, featuring the characteristic crab on the reverse. [8] Openly accessible on the maritime route along the western Asia Minor littoral, the island must for centuries have seen its cemeteries, as well as its domestic, civic, and religious sites looted. Serious antiquarian research began in the second half of the 19th century, coinciding with both the Turkish and Greek authorities becoming more aware of the need to restrict unlicensed excavations, although in remoter regions this was difficult, if not impossible. The British Museum has a small number of acquisitions from the island, notably from the collections of Charles Newton and Thomas Spratt. [9] The first antiquarian visit of note was that made by Ludwig Ross in May 1844 when he spent a few days visiting sites, including the acropolis. [10] Remarkably, the next dedicated investigations were not to occur for some 40 years, when, in late February 1885, the English explorers Theodore and Mabel Bent excavated various graves, but removed nothing of significance. [11] Their base was the small monastery below Megálo Chorió, serendipitously a few metres from the site of the island's new archaeological museum. [12] Undoubtedly, to date the island's most celebrated archaeological find is the Attic red-figured bell-krater (390–360 BC) attributed to the 'Telos Painter', which is now in the British Museum. [13] The vessel was bequeathed to the museum in 1824 by Richard Payne Knight, who specified its provenance as 'Telos'. Based on this, John Beazley classified a group of stylistically similar, beautifully decorated vessels under this name, [14] and several other examples are kept in museums around the world. [15] [16]

As for the early 20th century, in the summer of 1906 the island was visited by the British academics R.M. Dawkins and A.J.B. Wace during a wider tour of the region. They published their observations “in the hope that they may be of some service to other travellers”, and their article includes a bibliography and five rare photographs. [17] The Symian antiquarians Michael and Niketas Chaviaras were active in the region around the same time and the Symi museum contains many of their finds. In 1920, Niketas Chaviaras found 23 inscriptions on Tilos. [18]

20th Century

Ottoman rule lasted until May 12, 1912, when Italian sailors landed in the bay of Eristos during the Italo-Turkish War. [6] Tilos then became part the Italian possession of the Isole Italiane dell'Egeo. [6] After the Italian Armistice of September 8, 1943, Tilos was occupied by German troops, and in 1948 it joined Greece together with all the Dodecanese islands. Since 1948, the population of the island has declined rapidly, as many Tilians migrated to the United States or Australia.

In June 2008, Anastassios Aliferis, the Socialist mayor of the island performed the first same-sex marriages in Greece, citing a legal loophole and defying claims of illegality by a Greek prosecutor. [19]

In late 2018 Tilos will become the first island in the Mediterranean to run exclusively on wind and solar power. [20]


Tilos (aerial view) Tilos Greece aerial image.jpg
Tilos (aerial view)

Tílos has an inverted 'S' shape, is about 14.5 km (9.0 mi) long, north-west to south-east, with a maximum width of 8 km (5 mi) and an area of about 61 square kilometres (24 sq mi). The island has a mountainous limestone interior, volcanic lowlands, pumice beds and red lava sand, like its north western neighbour Nisyros. It is well supplied by springs, and is potentially very fertile and productive. Its coasts are generally rocky or pebbled, but there are also a number of sandy beaches.


Tilos has a mediterranean climate, typical for the region. [21]


View of Livadia village in Tilos island Tasos Aliferis, Tilos, Greece - panoramio.jpg
View of Livadia village in Tilos island

At the north-west end of the island, the Monastery of Áyios Pandeleímon, (also the island's patron saint), sits on the slopes of Mount Profítis Ilías (654 m). The monastery features fresh cold water springs as well as an enormous loquat tree (called Musmulla in Greek). The mountain borders a fertile plain running across the island's width, with the settlements of Áyios Andónis to the north and Éristos to the south. To the north-east of the plain is the island's capital, Megálo Chorió, built in the early 19th century at the foot of the ancient city of Telos. The archaic ruins stretch up to the site of the acropolis of the ancient city, dedicated to Pythios Apollo and Poliada Athina, and the Venetian Kástro, built over it. To the west is Kharkhadió Cave, where excavations in 1971 unearthed Neolithic finds and bones of dwarf elephant.

Ruins of the medieval castle in Megalo Chorio Castro-MegaloChorio.jpg
Ruins of the medieval castle in Megalo Chorio

Above the cave stand the ruins of the medieval Fortress of Mesariá. At southern end of the island, bordered by more fertile meadows, is Livádhia, the major harbour and economic centre of the island. The island's old capital, Mikró Chorió, first settled in the 15th century by the Knights of the Order of St John, overlooks the bay. It has been completely abandoned since 1960, its inhabitants having moved down to the harbour in the 1930s. A number of other settlements such as Lethrá, Gherá, and Panó Méri have similarly been abandoned. Mount Áyios Nikoláos (367 m) stands to the south of the bay.


Kástros (castles) have protected the island's inhabitants from pirate raids since the Dark Ages.

Power grid

Tilos has an undersea cable connecting it to Kos via Nisiros. This struggled to cope with the large summer population, and frequently failed. This has been reinforced with solar power, wind turbines and a battery farm, making Tilos self-sufficient with fully renewable electricity. [20] [22]


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  1. 1 2 "Απογραφή Πληθυσμού - Κατοικιών 2011. ΜΟΝΙΜΟΣ Πληθυσμός" (in Greek). Hellenic Statistical Authority.
  2. @web, George Kitsos - Nikos Gatsouras. "Information about Regions in Greece". Ellada.net. Retrieved 2009-08-09.
  3. "census 2022" (PDF).
  4. "Population & housing census 2001 (incl. area and average elevation)" (PDF) (in Greek). National Statistical Service of Greece.
  5. "ΦΕΚ A 87/2010, Kallikratis reform law text" (in Greek). Government Gazette.
  6. 1 2 3 4 Bertarelli, p. 135
  7. Ch. Wilson (ed.), Handbook for Travellers in Asia Minor, Transcaucasus, Persia, etc. (John Murray, London, 1895, p. 367).
  8. V.E. Stefanaki, The Coinage of Telos in the Late Classical and Early Hellenistic Period, The Numismatic Chronicle, Vol. 168 (2008), pp. 21–32.
  9. The British Museum has two vessels from Tilos acquired from Newton, and one stele acquired from Spratt (https://www.britishmuseum.org/collection/search?keyword=Telos). See also, C.T. Newton (ed.), The collection of ancient Greek inscriptions in the British Museum , Oxford, 1874, pp. 59, 107.
  10. Ludwig Ross, Reisen auf den griechischen Inseln des ägäischen Meeres (Band 4): Reisen nach Kos, Halikarnassos, Rhodos und der Insel Cypern (1852, Tübingen, p. 42 ff).
  11. G. Brisch (ed.), J. Theodore & Mabel V.A. Bent, Selected Writings Of: The Dodecanese – Further Travels Among the Insular Greeks, 1885–1888 (Oxford, 2015, pp. 10–24, 112–118); J.T. Bent, The Islands of Telos and Karpathos. The Journal of Hellenic Studies, Vol. VI, 1885, pp. 233–242.
  12. https://news.gtp.gr/2023/08/21/south-aegean-region-increases-funds-for-tilos-new-archaeological-museum/
  13. https://www.britishmuseum.org/collection/object/G_1824-0501-17
  14. J.D. Beazley, Attic Red-Figure Vase-Painters (2nd edn, Vol. 4, p. 1425, Oxford, 1963).
  15. I.e. Vase no. 892 in the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna (https://www.carc.ox.ac.uk/XDB/ASP/recordDetails.asp?recordCount=1&start=0). Refer to the Database of the Classical Art Research Centre, Oxford.
  16. In January 2024, an example was sold at a London auction, with an estimate of £12–20 thousand (https://www.invaluable.com/auction-lot/attic-bell-krater-with-dionysus-and-ariadne-attri-32-c-0374b43890).
  17. R.M. Dawkins and A.J.B. Wace 1905/1906. 'Notes from the Sporades, Astypalaea, Telos, Nisyros, Leros', Annual of the British School at Athens 12, 1905-6, pp. 159–165.
  18. Αρχαιολογική Ἐφημερίς, 1922, pp. 39–48.
  19. "Mayor Performs Greece’s First Same-Sex Marriages", New York Times 4 June 2008
  20. 1 2 Mier, Iliana (2018-08-19). "A small Greek island will become the first in the Mediterranean to run solely on wind and solar power after its businesses have been hindered by blackouts". Business Insider . Retrieved 2021-04-04.
  21. "Climate and average monthly weather in Tilos, Greece". World Weather & Climate Information. Retrieved 2023-03-17.
  22. Hope, Kerin (2021-03-02). "The Greek Island Where Renewable Energy and Hybrid Cars Rule". Inside Climate News . Retrieved 2021-04-04.
  23. "A Manual of Greek Literature, page 111". Ancientlibrary.com. Retrieved 2009-08-09.