Greece the ideal destination


Chios Island the Ideal Destination

The Island to be Discovered

Chios Island

Chios - the island of Homer, luxurious vegetation and mastic gum - lies just off the Turkish mainland, midway between the islands of Samos and Lesvos. It can be reached by ferryboat from Piraeus, Thessaloniki, Samos, Lesvos and other islands, or by air from Athens (40 minutes), Thessaloniki and Lesvos. Renowned for its natural beauty, excellent climate and historical monuments, Chios each year attracts visitors from all over the world.

Inhabited since prehistoric times, Chios was settled by Ionian Greeks from Euboea around 1000 BC. Homer is believed to have been born on the island around 800 BC. The island flourished during the 7th and 6th centuries BC. In 1566, Chios fell to the Turks. After an unsuccessful revolt in 1822, the Turks massacred approximately 30,000 islanders, a tragedy which was poignantly rendered by Delacroix.

The island's capital and main port, Chios (also known locally as Chora), lies in the middle of the east coast. The oldest quarter is on the northern edge of the town around the Byzantine fortress, which was originally built in the 10th century. Other monuments of interest in the town include the early Christian basilica of St. Isidore and the 19th century Cathedral.

Next to the cathedral is the Korais library, one of the finest in Greece, and the Philippos Argentis collection of folk art. The Archaeological Museum exhibits findings from around the island, including statues, ceramics and coins. The Byzantine Museum has a fine collection of Byzantine and post-Byzantine sculptures. Chios also has a Maritime Museum, while the Justiniani Palace Exhibition in the fortress constitutes a permanent display of early-Christian mosaics, Byzantine frescoes and icons. Art exhibitions are held all year round at the 'Homerion' gallery and the Municipal Art Gallery.

South of Chios town is Kampos, a very beautiful region with elegant Genoese mansions standing amidst thickly planted orchards. Further south, near the village of Vavyli, is the interesting church of the Virgin Mary of Krina, a cruciform domed basilica built in 1287, in which three layers of wall paintings have been revealed. Nearby is the old Genoese settlement of Sklavia with remains of medieval houses and churches. Further south at the village of Kallimasia is the 13th century church of the Virgin Mary of Sikelia. Near Kallimasia stands the Monastery of Aghios Minas, which was built in the late 16th century.

During the Massacre of Chios (1822), the Turks killed more than 3,000 Chiots in the monastery, which is now a national monument. Nenita is home to the monastery of Taxiarches and to the west, at Armolia, the well-preserved remains of what used to be one of the strongest fortresses on the island, built in 1440. This area of southern Chios is perhaps best known as Masticochoria ('Mastic Villages'), medieval villages fortified against pirate attacks. This is the area in which the mastic tree has been cultivated since ancient times. Chios is the only place in the world where the mastic tree produces a special type of resin which is used to make a large number of products, including chewing gum and pharmaceuticals. The villages of Pyrgi and Mesta are the best preserved.

The charming village of Pyrgi, with its interesting house fronts and old churches, is dominated by the ruins of a 14th century Genoese fortress. The impressive houses in Mesta date back to the 14th and 15th centuries and the corner bastions and gates of the main defensive wall still stand. The village of Emporios has three unique beaches with round black pebbles of volcanic origin.

North of Chios, near the town of Vrontados is the Teacher's Rock (Daskalopetra), where Homer is said to have taught. Further north at the picturesque fishing village of Lagada are the remains of the 5th century BC Athenian naval base of Delphinion. The area is also known for its marvellous beach (Nagos), lush vegetation and spring waters. In the north of the island there are fewer villages than in the south. The largest is Kardamyla, which stands in a lush green location above the charming little harbour of Marmaro. Lying on the NW coast, Volissos is a picturesque village, medieval in character, with a well-preserved Byzantine fortress. There are long sandy beaches of exceptional natural beauty in this area. At the NW tip of the island, at Aghio Gala, significant Neolithic findings were discovered in a cave known locally as 'The Bed of the Mother of God'.

There are more than 30 monasteries and hundreds of churches on Chios, but the most important is the Nea Moni convent, which lies 12 km. to the west of the main town. Founded in the mid-11th century, the convent is famous for its mid-Byzantine icons and fabulous mosaics and is generally considered to be one of Greece's most outstanding Byzantine monuments.

The shores of Chios are ideal for sunbathing, swimming and a range of watersports. Inland, there are some excellent hiking trails, particularly in the mountainous areas. Chios also has more than 70 caves ranging from small cavities to large complexes.

Chios Island

Chios Island

Chios Island

Chios Island

Chios Island

Chios Island

Prefecture of Chios the Ideal Destination

The Island to be Discovered

Flowers of Chios

Prefecture of Chios

The wildflowers of Chios can be enjoyed by visitors throughout the year. Autumn and winter landscapes have fine showings of Colchicum, Cyclamen, Crocus, Sternbergia and many other plants. Spring ushers in a magical show of flowers and as the season progresses a succession of many different species of flowers reveal themselves and paint the landscapes in an ever changing palette of colors. The mountain slopes are colorful carpets of numerous species of flowering plants in April, reminiscent of alpine meadows. Chios is distinguished for its wide range of wild flowers, among which are orchids and lalades (tulips). There are 102 species of self-sown orchid on Chios, many of which are rare. Anacamtis pyramidalis, Dactylorhiza romana and Gymnodemnia conopsea are just a few of the many orchids to be found on Chios which is among the top orchid-rich sites in the Mediterranean. They grow among bushes, forest clearings, olive groves, rocks, at the edges of fields and roads, in fallow fields and meadows. Northern Chios has been included in the Natura program due to its wealth of flora.

Prefecture of Chios

Prefecture of Chios

Prefecture of Chios

Prefecture of Chios

Prefecture of Chios

Prefecture of Chios