Greek Guide

Chios Day Trips Greece Chios

Chios Tourist Attractions Day Trips Greece Greek Travel Guide

When it comes to filling your days on Chios you'll find there's a wealth of fascinating day trips and excursions to choose from. The island has some of the most enchanting medieval villages in Greece, important Byzantine monuments, several interesting museums and many disturbing reminders of the islanders' disastrous 19th century rebellion against the Ottoman occupiers.

Start by exploring Chios Town with its atmospheric old quarter enclosed within the walls of a 9th century Byzantine kastro and flanked by a deep dry moat. Ottoman era houses line the narrow lanes of the ancient castle where you'll find decaying Turkish baths, a disused mosque, fountains and the gravestone of Turks, Armenians and Jews.

The Giustiniani Museum, housed in a 15th century mansion in the kastro, contains some restored 15th century Byzantine wall paintings, a 5th century floor mosaic and other religious art. The tiny dungeon next to the museum was used to imprison 75 islanders before they were hanged by the Turks during the bloody 1822 uprising.

For a fascinating insight into traditional island life, visit the Philip Argenti Museum on Korais next to the cathedral. The museum takes its name from a local historian and aristocrat who devoted his life to recording the culture, traditions and history of Chios, The collection includes local costumes, wooden utensils, portraits of the Argenti family and a copy of the famous "Massacre at Chios" painting by Delacroix. More than 25,000 Chiots were slaughtered by the Turks and nearly twice that number were enslaved during the Greek War of Independence (1821 1822). The original painting hangs in the Louvre in Paris.

Gruesome evidence of the massacre can be seen at the spectacularly sited 11th century monastery of Nea Moni in the centre of the island. The monastery occupies a beautiful mountain setting, 14 kilometres west of Chios Town, and is well worth a visit because this is one of finest Byzantine buildings in the whole of Greece. The interior is adorned with many beautiful mosaics, their colours of red, gold, green and blue still vivid after 10 centuries. The Chapel of the Holy Cross, at the monastery entrance, contains the skulls and bones of 600 monks and 3,500 women and children who were massacred after seeking refuge here during the horrors of 1822.

Another "must see" during your stay on Chios is a visit to the so called mastic villages (Mastichohoria) in the south of the island. These delightful medieval villages were built in the 14th and 15th century as centres of production of the local mastic gum which was the island's most important export for centuries. The gum is made from the resin of the mastic bushes which are unique to the island. Until the introduction of petroleum based products mastic gum was widely used as a base for cosmetics, paints, perfumes and medicines. The mastic villages were constructed to a unique design with the aim of deterring pirates and other predators keen to cash in on the lucrative gum trade. The outer ring of houses served as thick defence walls, fortified towers guarded each corner of the village and a confusing maze of narrow streets arched by buttresses led inward to a central tower which was the last stronghold in times of attack.

A special feature of these villages is the elaboration decoration on the external walls of many of the buildings. Pyrgi, 26 kilometres south west of Chios Town, is the biggest and most impressive of the surviving mastic villages.