Chios, a remote island located in the east of the Aegean Sea, was once an important hub of the Aegean civilization. Today, its serene and unspoiled beauty, along with its rich cultural heritage, draws many tourists to its shores. It is believed that the island was the birthplace of Homer, as well as mathematicians Hippocrates and Oenopides.
During the Ottoman Empire’s rule, Chios went through a difficult period of decline and devastation. As a punishment for supporting and organizing the struggle for independence, the Turks nearly wiped out the entire local population, leaving only about 2,000 people alive.
Chios is famous for its mastic, an organic resin extracted from a mastic tree, which can live for over 100 years and does not grow beyond 2-3 meters in height. Since the 1st century AD, mastic trees have been cultivated on the island, and their product has been used to treat various ailments. Mastic helps increase hemoglobin, treat stomach pains and coughs, cure snake bites, and even prevent baldness. It is now the island’s main export product and is used to make a wide range of souvenirs, including medicines, cosmetics, jams, gums, and drinks.
What to See in Chios
Chios boasts two main museums that are definitely worth visiting.
The Museum of Byzantine Art showcases household items and the island’s culture from the Byzantine era, the Middle Ages, and the period of Turkish occupation. It is housed in the Mesedie Cami mosque.
The largest museum on the island is the Archaeological Museum, which displays artifacts and antiquities unearthed during excavations on the island.
Knight’s Fortress of Kastro is an ancient Byzantine fortress built in the 10th century that houses the Palace of Justinian, the Church of St. Basil, a Turkish mosque, and baths, all perfectly preserved. It is located in the island’s capital and was initially built to protect against pirates and enemy raids.
The village of Caries boasts two monasteries. One of them, Nea Moni, is among the oldest in Greece and was built in the 11th century. It is famous for its unique frescoes. The second monastery, Agios Markos, offers breathtaking views as it is situated atop a small hill.
The Village of Pirgi
The uniqueness of this settlement lies in its houses, or more precisely, the way they are decorated. The walls of the residential buildings in this village are adorned using the technique of scraping, which is not found anywhere else in Greece. Contemporary experts still cannot agree on where this unusual method came from – Italy or Constantinople.
Beaches of Chios
Mavros Gialos is considered the most popular beach, covered with volcanic sand and having a long stretch that prevents overcrowding even during peak season.
Not far from the capital is Vrondados beach, which has clear water and is surrounded by tall Greek pine trees. The beach is well-equipped with all the necessary facilities.
For solitude and peace, Gerita beach is a great option. It is a place of wild nature and no civilization, with calm waters and no winds.
Elinda beach is also popular, boasting clear water and natural sources of sweet water. It is said that the remains of an ancient Greek ship that was once wrecked here can be found in its waters.
How to Get to Chios
The island is located in the Aegean Sea, off the coast of Turkey. It is the most remote island in the Eastern Sporades archipelago.