Greek Islands Guide

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Chios, is an Aegean island located 283 kilometres to the north east of the Athenian port of Piraeus, but only 8 kilometres and separated by the Chios Straits, from the Turkish coast. Chios is a simply beautiful island, which due to its lack of an international airport has remained largely untouched by mass tourism, despite having some of the best beaches in the archipelago, and some of the most fascinating medieval villages in the whole of the Greek islands. Although remaining comparatively undiscovered by the rest of the world, the island is a very popular holiday destination for the Greeks themselves.

Most of the holiday accommodation on this Greek island is in Chios Town, which is also home to almost half of the islands population. due to a violent earthquake in 1881, the town lacks some of the charm that you may expect from a Greek island port, but a charming old quarter with narrow streets still remain, and a couple of interesting museums.

The castle at Chios had an important role in the history of the island. Originally built by the Byzantines, it was also used for defence by the Turks and the Genoese. The Castle has undergone many modifications over the centuries, so little remains of the original Byzantine structure, with what remains today being mostly of Turkish origin. located within the castle is a cemetery were lies the body of the Turkish leader, Phasa.

Pyrgi is the largest of  villages in the southern part of Chios. The village has become a major tourist attraction due to the geometric decorated buildings. The village was a fortified settlement in the Middle Ages with defensive walls with turrets in the four corners. There was originally a huge tower at the middle of the village, of which very little remains. The name of the village, came from the Greek word "pyrgos" meaning tower.

Emporio, or Emborio, is located on the southeast tip of the island. The village has been built on the site of an ancient citadel that is thought to date back to the 7th or 8th century B.C. It is a possibility that this town is the same one referred to as Leukonion in the writings of Thucidides. A number of buildings, including a temple dedicated to Athena have been excavated, with a further building, which is thought to be a sanctuary also dedicated to the Goddess having been found lower down near the harbour. Next to the modern village lies the extinct volcano of Psaronas, which has resulted in the black pebble beaches at Mavros Gialos and Foki.

The stone beach of Nagos is located in the north of the island, here you will find a popular beach made up of small pebbles, backed by a small number of good taverna's. The bay is named after the Greek word  “Naos” meaning temple. Evidence of a temple has been found on the hill which overlooks the bay, and is now the site of a new church.

A major attraction on the island, and a World Heritage listed site, is the Monastery of Nea Moni. Located high in thee hills 15 kilometres west of Chios town, and originating back to the 11th century, this Byzantine building and its collection of preserved mosaics, rank as among the finest of their kind in Greece. Just inside the main gate is a chapel which contains the skulls and bones of islanders who fled to the monastery in an attempt to escape the Turks during the uprising of 1822. Chilling evidence of an horrific episode in the islands history.

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