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CHIOS ISLAND

Chios

Chios is a large and verdant island which is part of the North-Eastern Aegean Islands. It is lying at  a short distance by ferry from Turkey and  between Lesvos  and  Ikaria. It is a very  attractive island because of its lush  vegetation,  fine beaches and unique  medieval  villages  which  are kept in very good condition. The island offers a lively  nightlife,  a  great  natural  beauty  and  numerous  sights. The people on Chios live off  tourism to a  certain extent, but it is not their major source of income. One of the  island’s  most  important resources is mastic, from which you make chewing gum for example, and others live off fishing, farming or working on ships. In the island there are  many  beautiful  and clean sandy and pebbly beaches where you can enjoy your bath with your family and friends or by yourself in a more isolated coast.  Moreover, there are many good places to visit, villages with historic monasteries, castles and, many other opportunities. Those who like sports can go sailing or climbing.

History of Chios

The name of the island may come from the Greek word for snow, (chioni), since the island’s patron god Poseidon was born under snowfall. During ancient years the island was quite wealthy because of its mastic and wine, and this was also the first place in Greece where they had slavery. Chios fought alongside Athens against the Persians in the 5th century BC, and was later to be ruled by Macedonians, Romans, Venetians and Turks.

Sightseeing’s

Daskalopetra ; Daskalopetra is one of the island’s best known monuments.“The teachers stone” at the foot of mount epos is where Homer taught his students. On top of the rock a stone is carved out and rises about 1 m. above the plateau.

Cave of Olympi; The Cave of   Olympi is  located  10 kilometres from the port of Mesta and  5  kilometres away of the medieval village of Olympi. According to the  scientists, the  cave  creation  began  200.000 years ago, The temperature inside the cave is  18 C and is the same  all  through  the  year. The oxygen leve l is  20% and  the   cave is 74 meter deep. The decoration made by nature in the cave is   beautiful. The  cave has  for the  most parts a  yellow-reddish colour. This colour is the  result of carbonic  calsium and the red-coloured  argilic  components that exist in the cave.


Kambos; The Kambos area is unique because of the red stone that is used to built the houses. The red stone comes from the town of Thymiana. The area was used as the summer homes of the Genoese that populated the island one time. On it’s height it counted more than 200 mansion built in this style.

 

The castle ; “To Kastro”  The  castle  had  an important role in the history of Chios. It  was  originally  built by the Byzantines.  The  main entrance   lies  on    its   south   side    near Voukaniou Ssquare, behind the Town Hall.  It  is in three parts and the passage turns twice; there is a gallery that forms a vault.The level area  that   comes   after  the exit  from the gallery is dominated by the reconstructed Giustiniani Mansion.

Today it houses the Giustiniani Museum with treasures from Byzantine churches, Early Christian mosaics, Byzantine and post-Byzantine wall-paintings and wooden sculpture. On the same level area is a large square room covered with four pointed groin-vaults. A little further north in the next flat area, you reach the Turkish cemetery where in the confine of a small courtyard stand the marble tombstones of eminent Turks. Here lies buried the Kapudan Pasa Kara Ali, the leader of the Turkish fleet that was burned by Kanaris in 1822. The tombstones in the cemetery are of artistic and historical interest. The reliefs are brilliant examples of Ottoman art which took elements from baroque . On the main street, to the  left are the ruins of small mosque, the Batrakis mosque. Continuing along the same street you will come upon the church of Ayios Georgios. The main street ends at the north corner of the castle where to the left you can see the Turkish baths and the spherical domes which was built in 1700 and Zeno Tower. In the interior of the building there is the Krya Vrysi (cold fountain) which is a large half-basement reservoir for water with a roof of groivaults supported on eight pillars. A little further south Koules rises up, a massive Turkish tower from more recent times.

Agia Markella is a monastery open to visitors, and is located outside the village Volissos. The saint is celebrated on July 22nd.

 

Nea Moni is another monastery, and perhaps the most visited of the two. It dates back to the 11th century. Nea Moni was built by the Byzantine emperor Monomahos. The construction  would take  12 year.  It is similar to monuments that can be  found in Constantinople,  and  its typical  octagonal style  can  only  be found on Chios and Cyprus.

 


The monastery of Agios Minas is situated on top of the mountain near the village of Nechori. Here it has a great view on the east site of Chios. This monastery was built during 1572-1595 by the Reverend Father Neofitos Koumanos and his son, Father Menas,at the time of Patriarch Jeremiah II.Initially it housed monks,but in 1932 it was converted into a nunnery. Today only 11 nuns live in the monastery.

Pirgy: “The painterly village” it is called because the tradition of decoration the houses with black and white geometrical figures. These are called “ksista”. The origin of the tradition is unknown. Some say it originated in the Byzantine period of Chios, Greece other say that the Genoese brought this “graffiti”. Whatever the origin it gives the town of Pirgy a great atmosphere. Pyrgi is one of the areas which still stands as it was built. The house on the out side border of the village were build side by side without any space between them. Also there were no doors or windows on the outer side. To enter the city there were two main gates at the north and south. Kato Porta and Pano Porta. This created a fortress to protect the village and inhabitants from the dangers.

Mesta : Mesta has preserved many of it unique buildings dating from 12th century. Also Mesta was designed and build like a fortress, withstanding pirate raids through it’s history. When Mesta is entered through it’s small entrance you will find yourself in a labyrinth of small streets and alleys. At the main square there is the main church the Tachiarchion. At the main square you could taste “Souma” a strong alcoholic drink only made in this area.


Anavatos; Anavatos is build on top of a mountain in the central part of Chios. It is only reachable from the south. Anavatos meaning inaccessible reveals the purpose of the position of this city. Today few people life their daily lifes in Anavatos. For the film critics amongst us. Anavatos was one of the shooting sites for the James bond movie “For your eyes only”.

Lithi ; The Lithi is situated four km north of Vessa. The toponyms probably derives from the attribute of “Alithis limin” (true haven)given to the site by old-time travelers. Lithi is a famous fishing village. It is worth visiting its sandy beach and enjoying the beautiful sea and the fresh fish. The sunset at the Lithi is unforgettable.


The most popular beach is probably Karfas, but there are also well developed beaches around Chios town. For more peace and quiet, you can go to the beach Kato Fana, for example, but it is also a good idea to try to find your own place by renting a vehicle and drive around.

 

Mavra Volia: South of Chios-town on the east coast of Chios island, close to the city of Emborio lays the beach “Mavra volia”.As a result of volcanic activity the beach consists entirely of black stones. The black stones give the bech something special, making the beach more than just a beach.

 

Tavernas of Chios

The main difference between a restaurant and a Greek tavern is the way how the food is served. In a restaurant each guest chooses a meal, which is served on a big plate. Contrarily, in a tavern you share a wide array of food (called mezedes) which is set up in the middle of the table, so everybody can reach his or her favoured food. In Greek it is common to meet very late to go out for dinner in a tavern. Eating out of house is part of the Greek culture and it is just as important for the Greeks to enjoy the get together as well as the food. Story telling and laughing just belongs to the Greek eating habits and therefore a visit of a tavern might take several hours.

 

Mastic

Mastic comes from the mastic tree (Pistacia Lentiscus L.) that can only be found on Chios. The plant that makes the flora of Chios unique is the mastic tree and its sap. It is a low tree, almost a shrub, with spreading branches and an ash-colored trunk, either light or dark depending on how old it is. It is also has irregular scales, like wrinkles, like a pine tree. To get the mastic from the mastic tree, is a very precise work and take all summer. First ground around the tree is cleaned. After this the tree is carved with a special needle to a depth of approximately 3 mm. Now the mastic flow slowly from the tree. The first mastic is collected after fifteen days when the mastic has become more solid. Today mastic has many uses. It’s most widespread application in chewing gum and as a flavoring in confectionery shops and distilleries.Essence of mastic is basic to high quality lacquers for furniture and musical instruments