Fifth largest island in the Aegean, with its name associated with Homer’s ancestry and Columbus’s inspiration to seek America, Chios is mainly known for its mastic, and possibly for its rare Persian Cyclamen, whose descendants today decorate the florists’ shops’ windows. Behind its lumbering harbour showcase, however, lies a special inland, which combines rare natural beauty (canyons with wild orchids which will be carved in the visitor’s memory) with characteristic anthropogenic small-town settlements which intertwine with Aegean and Asia Minor traditions, in an alloy so exotic, but also intimate at the same time.
Kalamoti is the kingdom of mastic, surrounded by hills full of this endemic treasure, while the beautiful two-storey houses cast their shadow on the cobbled streets that lead to the beautiful central square with traditional cafes. A typical example of local wood-carving is found in the iconostasis of 1833 in the Byzantine chapel of the Palaios Taxiarchis in the well-preserved Mesta, while the decorating style of the “ksisto” is very impressive, geometric grey-white shapes that adorn the exterior walls of the buildings in Pyrgi.
Also known as Daskalopetra, it is a flattened rock in the so-called Homeroupolis of the islands’ inland, where it is said that Homer taught his epics. Archaeologists estimate that the mid-rock temple in combination with the waters of the neighbouring spring suggests that the area was dedicated to the goddess Cybele.
Monastery of Nea Moni
Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, this monastery is known for its elaborate mosaics, but also for the macabre ossuary of 800 skulls of monks slaughtered on its territory. It was founded in the 11th century by Constantine IX and looks like a small village that was forcibly abandoned in the 19th century when the Turks pillaged it and slaughtered all its monks.
The sandy beach of Karfas with calm blue waters is a best seller for the locals, because of the combination of beauty and accessibility. Perhaps the most beautiful beach on the island, however, with crystal clear, deep waters, lies on its southern coast, with its round and black volcanic pebbles justifying its name as Mavra Volia. To the north, Daskalopetra has its own beach with shiny white pebbles, while many beautiful beaches can be found in Limia, the port of Volissos, ending in Agia Markella, an all-white seaside monastery.
Renowned all over the world and – despite all the efforts made to transplant the whimsical mastic tree around the globe – unique in its production here on this blessed island, the Chios mastic and the multitude of products that use it as its base is the coup de grace of the island. You can enjoy it yourself as a “submarine” sweet, or as flavouring in liqueurs, ouzo, cookies and even chewing gum!
Famous for its unique quality citrus fruits, Chios is particularly proud of its tangerine, which thanks to its strong aroma, tender flesh and sweet taste, has won a place among the best varieties in the world and has been listed as a product of Protected Geographical Indication. Try it in cool juices, fruit salads and tasty spoon sweets.
”Mastello” type white cheese
The local wines thrive in both the island’s restaurants and the local wineries. White Athiri dominates, but so does Mandilaria, here called Amorgiano – a rare variety of red grape that gives red wines rich flavour and lively warm colour.
Useful phone numbers
Port Authorities: 2271044433
Radio Taxi: 2271100300
General Hospital: 2271350100