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The Island of Mastic

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Discover Chios

Chios is situated in the north-eastern Aegean at the crossroads of East and West. One of seven claimed birthplaces of Homer, it is also where the renowned “Ariousos Oinos” wine of antiquity hailed from. In the 17th century it became famous for its fertile plain, the Kambos, and the intense aroma of its citrus fruits, which gave it the name “Myrovolos”, meaning fragrant.

Chios is the island of mastic, a unique natural treasure that brought it great prosperity and prestige.

In addition to its rich cultural heritage and history, Chios has stunning natural landscapes of lush valleys, beautiful mountain villages, and fantastic beaches in settings of wild beauty.

Big-hearted and affable, but relatively unexplored, Chios offers visitors an unexpected variety of images and experiences. It is an ideal destination for travellers who want to enjoy authentic traditions, local gastronomy, and genuine hospitality.

Discover the island’s beauty by choosing one of the ferry tickets to Chios.

7 memorable experiences on Chios
  1. The dramatic Rocket War held every year in Vrontados on the night of the Resurrection, a spectacle that lights up the night sky over Chios.
  2. A visit to the house of Christopher Columbus in Pyrgi. According to tradition, the legendary Genoese seafarer lived for a time on the island.
  3. A walk around the atmospheric village of Volissos and the imposing Byzantine castle with its six round towers.
  4. Don’t miss the cave at Olympi, one of the most beautiful in Greece, with its astonishing natural decoration.
  5. A boat trip to the historic islands of Psara and Oinousses.
  6. Watching the sunset from the volcanic Merikounta beach near Mesta.
  7. Exploring the beautiful Kambia Gorge, an oasis of streams, plane trees and wild roses, crossed by wooden bridges.
Beaches of Chios

The coastline of Chios is characterised by a wild natural beauty with more than 90 sand or pebble beaches and deep cool waters in every shade of blue.

  • Visit the famous Mavra Volia, an impressive beach with black volcanic pebbles.
  • Relax on the sand on the cosmopolitan Glari, with the white rocks of the old quarry as a backdrop.
  • Discover a paradise of windsurfing and underwater exploration at Yiosonas, an impressive white pebble beach.
  • Enjoy games on the sand and water sports in the shallow sea at Karfas, which is especially attractive to families.
  • For younger people, the swimming at the popular Agia Fotia is fantastic, while Komi is the place to go for uninhibited fun.
  • Enjoy tranquillity and magical sunsets on the endless stretch of sand at Managros and be captivated by the vastness of the Aegean.
  • Fall in love with the secluded idylls of Elinta and Trachili.
Postcards from Chios: 10 things not to miss

The Mastichochoria
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.

Nea Moni
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.

The Kambos
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.

Homer’s Rock
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.

Chios Town
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.

The Watchtowers
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.

Tastes of Chios

If you choose one of the itineraries for Chios, don’t miss the opportunity to sample its gastronomy, which often incorporates mastic or the delicious citrus fruits of the Kambos, including a local variety of mandarin.

The island produces the famous Chios mastelo (soft white cheese), as well as kourmades (wrinkled olives flavoured with mastic).

The local cuisine offers a wide variety of flavours and mouth-watering mezes. Try marathokeftedes (fennel rissoles), tabouropita (pumpkin pie), malathropita (wild fennel pie), melitzanopilafo (rice and aubergine), spicy kopanisti cheese pies, sfouggato (omelette) with koutsounades (poppy leaves), avgokalamara (small omelettes with minced meat), and goat baked in a clay pot.

For lovers of fish and seafood, begoto (a fried pie of local whitebait or smelt) and liokafto (sun-dried fish dressed with oil and vinegar and herbs) are two of the island’s favourite delicacies.

One of the most popular treats on Chios is masourakia (crunchy flutes of filo pastry filled with honey and almonds).

Also, don’t miss the opportunity to sample the fantastic fruit preserves (flavours include bitter orange, lemon blossom, and mandarin), which go wonderfully with yogurt.

Chios was known in antiquity for the excellence of its “Ariousios Oinos” wine. Today, the island’s reds from the Krasero and Agiannitis varieties are well worth trying.

For good ouzo and souma (raki), try a family distillery, while the local microbrewery produces a fresh beer flavoured with mastic or citrus fruit.

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