Chios is the fifth largest island of
Greece and much bigger than what one usually expects. Tourism is not as
developed as on the neighbor islands Samos and Lesvos and was never
really encouraged. This
is because the main economy is based on shipping and on the islandís
unique product Mastic. Since 1988 there are several charter flights a
week from different countries and also many Greeks from other parts of
Greece come here for their Holidays. For them particularly Eastern is an
interesting period to come to Chios since this is celebrated in a very
special way. Itís not difficult to imagine the benefits of lack of mass
tourism, especially for those who appreciate the contact with local
people! What else, besides beautiful beaches and a deep blue Aegean sea, has
Chios got to offer you? The following sights are some of the most interesting on the island.
the capital of the island
The island has a population of
approximately 55.000. Half of them live in and around Chios town.
Because of the university, which is housed in a beautiful building in
the centre, a lot of the citizens are young of age. The Prokimea, a long
boulevard along the harbor, is a popular hangout for people of all
ages. Many hip bars and traditional taverns make it a lively place, day
and night. There is a frequent schedule of ferryboats coming from and
going to Lesvos and Pireas and to the opposite side namely Cesme in
the old townís walls, the Kastro, one can still find some remains of the
Genoese and Turkish occupations.
At the city square, the Platia, the old
mosque with its tall minaret also reminds us of the Turkish occupation,
which lasted almost 400 years. Nowadays it serves the Byzantine museum.
The Korais Library was built in 1884 and is one of Greeceís most
important libraries. Besides an exceptional collection of historical
books and paintings, there is a museum on the second floor with local
costumes and old tools.The Archeological Museum of Chios is well taken care of and is situated
next to the cityís university.
The southern villages of Chios are also
known as Matichochoria; mastic villages. Although mastic trees grow on
several places in the Mediterranean region, only in the south of Chios
the mastic can be cultivated, due to its texture there. This
resin-like product has been used in medical treatments for ages and is
still collected in the old traditional way. Today it is the main
substance in many different products such as toothpaste and chewing gum,
liquor and sweets as well as in body and hair products. Naturally, each
of them can be bought on the island!
Some of the 23 villages that live from mastic since centuries are
definitively worth sightseeing. Pyrgi, is the village, where houses and
churches are being decorated with specific scratched patterns. In Mesta,
a medieval castle-village, you can wander around the narrow streets like
you are back in the middle Ages. Armolia is known for the beautiful
ceramics and you can make nice strolls in the villages of Vessa and
Olympi. Also in the area of Olympi, there are some remarkable caves over
100 million years old. A guide on the spot can give you a small tour.
On the southeast coast is the marvelous black lava beach called Mavra
Volia, nearby the friendly harbor of Emborios.
If you drive towards the north along the west coast you will find
yourself on what is probably one of the most stunning routes of the
the sandy beach of Lithi (with the best fish taverns!) until Sidirounda
(which has a beautiful sunset) nature overwhelms you with idyllic little
beaches and beautiful blue seawater. You can see how the environment
changes and becomes higher and rockier.
The central part of the island has
several places of great historical value. Nowadays Anavatos is a ghost
town but it used to be a crowded village high on a rock safe from
pirates. As a reaction to the Greek War of Independence of 1821, one
year later the Turks landed their troops and slaughtered the island and
its inhabitants. People fled to monasteries and churches and places like Anavatos, hoping to be safe. Unfortunately
the attackers reached the village and many people were killed. It is
said that women and children jumped down from the cliffs in fear. The
big earthquake 60 years later finally resulted that the village became
Also the 11th century village Avgonima was almost deserted
and in very bad state. Since people started to buy old houses and to
restore them the village became a charming place. It has a medieval
square as well as a tavern with a wonderful view over the west coast
where one can combine nice food with a romantic sunset.
Chios has an innumerous amount of churches and monasteries but the most
impressive monastery is without a doubt Nea Moni. The complex was built
by Constatine Monomachos about 1000 years ago and is an important
national monument. Its church is one of a few in Greece with this
specific Byzantine architecture and has some unique mosaics and icons. There used to live monks in the monastery, today it is housed by one nun
and one priest.
This part is much rougher and less
populated than the rest of the island but surely as attractive.
The surroundings along the road from Chios town leading to the northwest
are comparable to the landscape of the moon. Volissos area is especially
popular during the summer months July and August and has nice beaches
and a big offer of accommodation, restaurants and bars.
Volissos is crowned by its castle, the Kastro, from where you have one
of the best views on the island. Also in this village a lot of ruined
houses have been restored back into their original state. Six kilometers
further up north stands the monastery of Agia Markella, named
after the patron saint of the island.
There is a big celebration on her name day the 22nd of July
when many people make pilgrimage to the monasteryís church.
More to the east is Nagos a
beautiful bay with a pebble beach and some taverns. It is close to
Marmaro/Kardamila, which can be called a sailors town. In the medieval
Pitious it is like time has stand still and people here fully live from
agriculture. The picturesque Langada is the favorite place of many
islanders. The lovely shore overlooking Chiosí ship-owners island
Oinousses invites you to eat fresh fish and to drink a cold glass of