Going on holidays at a Greek island comes very often with a thought of lying on the beach, admiring the sea splashing at your feet, maybe going for a swim in the crystal clear sea. Situated on the east edge of the Aegean, Chios has a lot of it, yet it remains the less explored island of the North Aegean.
This island of hidden treasures, natural and historical ones, is as proud as its famous Mediterranean captains. The spirit of the island is strong, seizable with your bare hands. Chios’ past is staring Homer, Saracene pirates and the Turkish warriors of the Greek Revolution, altogether with eminent Greek politicians and writers. This simple fact makes you respectful and curious of its stories. Mediaeval castles and villages mark the views around the island, steadily observing centuries pass by them. Chios’ towns easily get you admiring of the charms of mixed architectural styles and enormous well-preserved mosaics.
Great hikes across the island and diving trips to shipwrecks lying along the coastline are energizing ways to spend time. This inspiring part of Chios’ exploration will give you another view on the island and to see more than meets the eye. The many old footpaths that you can use for hiking may lead you to old monasteries, abandoned villages and secluded beaches, always giving you magical scenery and peace. When leaving this place, you will keep on searching for these hidden beauties wherever you go next.
“Chios’ Gold” hidden in trees
The main product of the island is the mastic – an expensive and rare liquid extracted directly from the tree trunks. According to the legend related to the discovery of mastic on Chios, the trees started “crying” with mastic when Romans tortured the Chios’ great son, Agios Isidoros. Since that time, that is the 1st century AD, it has been cultivated only here: in the South of Chios. Mastic is mainly used in medicine, pharmacy, dentistry and cosmetics.
Chios may also be a great holiday destination for your appetite. The island is rich in local specialties and authentic tastes. Among others you can try the famous mastic, pasteli, mastelo cheese, mandarins, fresh fish and seafood, altogether giving you a good taste of gastronomic wonders of the island. Once you have eaten, you may like to degust typical ouzo, fruity souma, aromatic liqueurs or delicious mestoutsiko and other wines, all local, often home made.
The mosaics of Nea Moni Monastery
Established in 1024 by the Byzantine emperor Constantine IX Monomachos, this monastery is recognized as a Unesco World Heritage Site. Built in the 11th century, Nea Moni houses some of the most remarkable as well as the biggest remaining mosaics in the Mediterranean and a lovely museum making your jaw fall open.
The magic of medieval mastic villages
In the south part of the island where the mastic trees cover the land, about 20 mastic villages can be found. Built in the middle Ages, this group of villages displays exquisite architecture and unique decorative elements. The most important ones are Pyrgi and Mesta –essential to fully experience the picturesque nature of Chios. Geometric designs scratched on plaster and called Ksista, are typical of this area and really make the charm of it. Mesta village is more fortress like than the big Pyrga, for the stone houses are built so close to one another that moving from one place to another is the easiest while climbing over the roofs.
If you were looking for at least one of the Greek trademarks you should go to Tempakika, where the majestic mills of old tanneries fight against the wind and make perfect photo scenery in a very Greek style.