Chios Attractions Khíos
Area of island: 842 sq.km/325 sq. mi.The rugged island of Chios (known in Turkish as Sakas Adasa, "Mastic Island") lies in the eastern Aegean, just off the Cesme peninsula on the south side of the Gulf of Smyrna, separated from the Turkish mainland only by the eight km/5mi wide Strait of Chios.
Most of the island is occupied by a range of craggy limestone hills traversing it from north to south, reaching its highest point in Mt Profítis Ilías, the ancient Pellinaion (1267m/4157ft), at the north end of the island. The hills fall steeply down to the sea, forming impressive cliffs, particularly on the east. The population is concentrated mainly in the fertile southern part of the island, where olives, vines, figs and citrus fruits are grown. The island's major crop, however, is mastic, the aromatic resin of the mastic or lentisk tree (Pistacia lentiscus L.), which was already being exported in ancient times, making an important contribution to the island's prosperity. Apart from agriculture, the island's prosperity depends on commerce and shipping: something like a third of the Greek merchant fleet is based on Chios.Excavation has yielded evidence of human settlement reaching back to the fourth millennium B.C. In the eighth century B.C., Ionian Greeks settled on Chios and made it one of the wealthiest and most important members of the Ionian League of cities which was established around 700 B.C. In the sixth century B.C. an important school of sculptors was active on the island. From 512 to 479, Chios was under Persian rule, and thereafter became a member of the Attic maritime league, but was able to maintain its independence. In this period Chios is believed to have had a population of 30,000 free men and 100,000 slaves, and the islanders grew wealthy from viniculture, commerce and industry (Chian beds). In 412 B.C., Chios broke away from Athens, and in 392 from Sparta; in 377 it became the first member of the second Attic maritime league, but soon left it. Under the Romans, with whom it sided in 190 B.C., it still maintained its independence. Held from 1204 to 1304 by the Venetians and later by the Genoese, Chios became Turkish in 1566. The popularity, in the Sultan's harem, of the mastic which grew on the island and of the sweets made from it gave Chios a special status - although no Greeks were allowed to live within the Turkish citadel. In addition to its mastic, Chios was famed for its silk weaving, which also contributed to the island's prosperity. Throughout their eventful history, the Chians showed themselves to be skilled seamen and shrewd businessmen. They took an active part in the struggle for liberation from the Turks, and Chios was the scene in 1822 of the bloody massacres depicted in a famous painting by Delacroix. Severe devastation was caused by an earthquake in 1881. In November, 1912, during the Balkan War, a Greek squadron appeared off the island and captured it after a brief resistance by the Turks. After WWI, Chios lost its economic hinterland in Turkey and had to give asylum to many Greeks expelled from Asia Minor.A special celebration is held on New Year's Eve. The island's seamen carry model ships (2-3m/6-10ft long, with lamps and flags) round the town, singing carols.Air connections with Athens several times daily; also with Lésbos, Mykonos and Sámos. Regular boat services run several times weekly from Athens (Piraeus); local connections with the neighboring islands of Inoúsai and Psará. Ferry service to Cesme (Turkey).
Six km/4mi north of Chios town is the villa suburb of Vrondádes. At the north end of the town, near the sea, are the Pasha's Spring (Basávrysi) and a large block of dressed stone which was probably a shrine of Cybele. This is popularly known as the Daskalópetra (Teacher's Stone) or Skholí Omírou (School of Homer) - recalling the island's claim to be the birthplace of Homer. Farther up the coast lies Langáda (15km/9mi), near which there are the excavated remains of the Delphinion, a site fortified by the Athenians in 412 B.C. At Kardámyla (27km/17mi; pop. 1,300) a road goes off on the right to the little port of Mármaron (25km/15.5mi; pop. 2,400), which has a sandy beach. Beyond Kardámyla the main road continues round the north of the island, passing through Víki and the picturesque village of Kéramos to reach Áyion Gála (50km/31mi). Another road runs northwest from Chios town along the northern slopes of Mt Aepos to Vólyssos (40km/25mi) and its harbor at Límnia.
Chios - Southern Coast
Some 30km/19mi south of Chios town, in the center of the villages that produce mastic (mastikhoría), is Pyrgí, a picturesque little place dominated by a Genoese castle. The 12th century church of the Áyii Apóstoli (frescoes) follows the pattern of the Néa Moní, which also served as a model for other churches on the island. Many of the houses have attractive sgraffito decoration. Eight km/5mi southwest of Pyrgí is the archeological site of Káto Fána, with remains of a temple of Apollo; seven km/4-1/2mi southeast is the site of Emborió. A road runs northwest from Pyrgí to the port of Ayía Anastasía or Basalimáni (43km/27mi from Chios town), from which we can return to Chios by way of Eláta and the medieval village of Vésa.
Area of island: 40 sq. km/15.5 sq. miChief place: PsaráThe bare rocky island of Psará, ancient Psyra (Mycenaean tombs found), lies 18 km/11 mi northwest of Chios. The chief place, also called Psará, is on the south coast, below a medieval castle. To the northeast is the monastery of the Dormition (Kímisis Theotókou).Psará had a period of considerable prosperity in the 18th century, when the descendants of Albanians who had settled on the island in the 16th and 17th centuries made it the third naval power in the Aegean, after Hydra and Spétsai. The island's dilapidated old mansions and the stumps of windmills on the hills bear witness to this period, when Psará had a population of 20,000. Then, in reprisal for the islanders' stubborn resistance an Egyptian force landed on the island and slaughtered 15,000 inhabitants. Part of the population was able to flee. After Psará became part of the new kingdom of Greece in the 19th century it was resettled from Chios. The population lives by farming and seafaring.Southwest of Psará is the smaller island of Antipsara.
In the mountains of Khios, 40km from the capital, is the Volissos village, the home of Homer. It is worth visiting for its colored houses, narrow lanes and ruined Byzantine castle.Here is also a remarkable monastery of St George with beautiful frescoes.
Daskalopetra, Vrontados, Greece
North of Khios town lies the Vrontados village (5km), with the famous stone "Daskalópetra" (teacher's stone) where, according to tradition, Homer used to teach.
The Homeria Festival includes events of art and literature on the historic Daskalopetra every summer.
Northeast of the island of Chios, at the north end of the Strait of Chios, are the Inoúsai Islands (formerly known as the Spalmatori), an archipelago extending northwest which consists of the main island, Inoúsai (school of navigation), the islets of Pásas, Gaváthion and Váton to the east, and numerous isolated rocks. Southwest of Chios, at the mouth of Elata Bay, are the little islands of Pelagonísos, Áyios Yeóryios and Áyios Stéfanos, with the remains of Hellenistic watchtowers.
Map of Chios Attractions