An introduction to Chios Island
Chios island lies in the North Aegean Sea, situated only seven kilometres from the coast of Turkey. Chios is a large and verdant island, the fifth largest island in Greece. Chios is famous worldwide for its unique production of Chios mastic gum, known for its therapeutic qualities. The island is also famous for its strong shipping tradition, mediaeval villages and as the home of the great Byzantine monastery of Nea Moni, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. With such gems, Chios is a wonderful and interesting destination for holiday seekers who want something more than the classic sun-sea-sand Greek escape.
Chios island is also famous as the birthplace of Homer, Hippocrates and Oenopides.
Chios has been known by this name since the ancient years, though the Genoese called it Scio, the Italians called it Chio, and the Turks called it Sakiz. The island has been inhabited since the Neolithic Age. Archaeological discoveries have uncovered cave dwellings, evidence of a Neolithic settlement and an ancient necropolis.
The ancient Greek race of the Leleges once lived on the island and so did the Ionians. Chios Island was a wealthy and prosperous island in the ancient years, with a a local currency in the 7th century BC and the population during the 4th century was about three times what it is today.
Like the other Northern Aegean islands, Chios fell to the Ottoman Empire and was reunited with Greece in 1912.
Today, Chios enjoys a strong tourist economy as well as a strong agricultural economy. Chios products include ouzo and mastic. These are the major products of the island.
The monastery of Nea Moni, a stunning Byzantine monastery built in 11th century is a must-see, especially because it is on the UNESCO World Heritage Site list. It is the most important building on the island and a significant example of Byzantine architecture and history. There are numerous other monasteries on the island, such as the monastery of Agios Minas, the monastery of Kournas and the monastery of Panagia Mersinidiou.
Another impressive landmark is the Chios Castle, which used to enclose the entire main town of Chios. The walls the built during the Byzantine years and have been expanded and renovated over the centuries by those who came later, such as the Venetians.
Chios Island is also very proud of its group of windmills, built many centuries ago for local wheat production. Today, they have no practical function, but offer a perfect photo-snapping opportunity and a nostalgic look at the island’s past. The maritime museum also offers a glimpse into Chios’ recent past and seafaring activities.
Chios island is blessed with some of the most enchanting beaches in all of Greece. The closest beach to the main town of Hora is called Karfas, and it has all the tourist facilities required for a lazy day at the beach. As with all beaches on this verdant island, and there are many beaches, the pure white sand is set against the foreground of crystal clear waters and the background of bright green vegetation.
Before you leave the island of Chios, you must visit the Mastic producing villages or Mastichochoria as they are called. They are situated in the southern part of the island and known for their unique production of masticha, the famous gum grown on trees only found on this island.