Chios is a very green island, noted mainly for its plantations of the mastic tree, a source of medicinal chewing gum. There are good beaches at Karfa, Aghia Ermioni, Vrontados, Lo Bay and Daskalopetra.
Vrontados is the scene of utter mayhem every Easter Monday night, when rival gangs fire salvoes of (mostly harmless) firework rockets at each other, creating the most amazing spectacle.
And, of course, there’s the mastic. It’s freely available, in both crystal and chewing gum form, from the shops in the town. Mastic is a good natural remedy for stomach ailments. Mastic liqueur is clear, strong and fascinatingly flavoured.
There are daily ferry sailings from Piraeus and flights from Athens.
Medieval villages and Castles
Chios has the best preserved medieval defence networks in the Mediterranean (castles and towers, watchtowers, fortified settlements) that have been salvaged. It is a remarkable preservation of the defence system, which presents characteristics with other areas of the Mediterranean, as well as elements that not only take you back to the Medieval period and the recent past, but also to the remote past (ancient times). It is remarkable that to this day the Castle of Chios as well as the mediaeval fortress villages continue to comprise of living settlements.
Fortified medieval settlements:
Mastihohoria:- Pirgi – Mesta- Olympi- Kalamoti- Armolia- Vessa
Castles with easy access:
Castle of Chios, Castle of Vilissos
Open castles include tours along bridle paths (easy climbing in certain cases):
Castle of Apolichnon (Armolia), The Castle of Grias (Kardamyla), Castle of Orias (Kambia), Tower of Dotia (Pyrgi), “Ta Markou” Tower (Pispilounta)
These are circular towers built on the island’s capes in order to monitor the sea. Open watchtowers: Pachi (Sidirounta), Mesta, Trachili (Lithi).
You will find spotless beaches everywhere, even close to the cities of Chios and Vrontado; Bella Vista, Ormos Lo Beach, Daskalopetra, Afanis Naftis Beach, Tagma in St Paraskevi, just to name a few.
1 Blue Flag Beach: Ormos Lo
Daskalopetra, Emborio Archaeological site, Temple of Phanaios Apollo, Rimokastro.
Archaeological museum of Chios, Byzantine museumof Chios (Medjitie Mosque), Ioustiniani Palace (Palataki), Chios Maritime Museum, Nea Moni Museum, Volissos Archaeological Collection, Folklore Museum of Kalimasia, Kourounia Ecclesiastical Museum, Folklore Museum of Chalkios Municipality of Kambochora.
Mastic – The magical tears
The wounded tree
If a trademark were to be established for Chios, then surely it would be the mastic tree. It is a gift and at the same time a curse since it has always been the bone of contention for conquerors. This evergreen tree called Schinos, belongs to the botanical family Pistachia. The average growth of the tree ranges from 6 to 10 feet tall and it begins to produce mastic at the age of 5 to 6 years old.
This amazing tree thrives within the 21 mastic villages of southern Chios only.
The oldest references to mastic have been traced back to Herodotes in the 5th Century B.C. The people of Ancient Greece chewed mastic to whiten their teeth and if you think about it, mastic was the unique chewing gum even then! During the Roman period, toothpicks were made from the mastic tree and the use of mastic spread to the harems of the East. Tradition says that God blessed the mastic tree which began to “cry” in 250 A.D., when St. Isidoros cried out in pain during his martyrdom.
Mastic has a plethora of qualities and uses. It absorbs cholesterol, is an antibacterial acts as an oral antiseptic, aids digestion, tightens the gums, heals wounds and scientists recently discovered that when it is administrated in small doses it cures stomach ulcers.
Aside from the medical aspects, these magical tears are used in distilleries to produce mastic liqueur and mastic-flavored ouzo called mastichato. There are also culinary uses for mastic. For example, mastic is used in baking and in sweets such as biscuits, mastic ice cream, and mastic sweets of the spoon.
Chios Police Tel: 0030 22710 44426
Chios Port Authorities Tel: 0030 22710 44433-4
Chios Bus Service Tel: 0030 22710 27507
Chios Hospital Tel: 0030 22710 44302
Chios Tourist Police Tel: 0030 22710 81539
Official website: www.chios.gr