The “Mastic Villages” in the south of Chios have for centuries been the centre of its mastic trade and bear witness to its rich medieval history. Fortified from the 14th to the 16th century by the island’s Genoese conquerors, these labyrinthine settlements are architectural masterpieces that excite the imagination with their enigmatic settings. Only 24 of the Mastichochoria were left standing following the devastating earthquake of 1881.
One of the most important monastery complexes in Greece. Behind its high stone walls is a hidden masterpiece of Byzantine architecture with astounding mosaics, declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1990.
This mysterious and eerie ghost village, also known as the “Mystras of the Aegean” (after the famous fortified town in the Peloponnese), stands atop a precipitous rock some 450 metres above sea level. The tower-shaped houses of the medieval settlement, with their small windows, form an impressive fortress that looks from afar like a natural stronghold.
Declared a “historic location” and a “traditional settlement”, the famous Kambos stands out for the natural beauty of its fragrant orchards and the architecture of its old mansions. Behind the high walls guarding the area’s estates are villas and towers built by aristocrats from Genoa and Chios in the 13th and 14th century, and by wealthy bourgeois merchants in the 18th century. The best way to explore the Kambos is by cycling around its paved paths.
Chios Mastic Museum
Built in glorious natural surroundings on a hillside with mastic trees and a view of the medieval village of Pyrgi, this extraordinary museum offers a journey into the history and culture of mastic production. In 2014, it was included in UNESCO’s List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
According to legend, this cube-shaped monolith on Daskalopetra Beach was where Homer taught his students. It is one of the island’s most important archaeological monuments and a timeless place of pilgrimage for travellers.
Built by the Ionians on the eastern side of the island in 1000 BC, Chios Town was known as the “Venice of the East” until it was destroyed by the Ottomans in 1822.Its best-known landmark is the medieval castle (10th-11th century), which has been inhabited continuously to the present day.
The largest of the Mastichochoria is Greece’s only “painted village”, famous for the black and white geometric patterns decorating its houses. A walk around its streets is a unique experience.
Built by the Genoese on the island’s capes, these round structures guarded the coast of Chios from enemy invasions and remained in operation until the 18th century. Today, the 30 that are left are protected monuments. It is worth visiting the Pachi, Mesta and Trachili watchtowers, the last of which is near the village of Lithi.
The best-preserved of the Mastichochoria has the architectural structure typical of a fortified village, with labyrinthine cobbled streets and vaulted passages beneath the balconies of the stone houses. Visit the 15th-century church of the Old Taxiarch to admire its ornate carved wooden icon screen, a superb example of local craftsmanship.