Getting to Chios from Athens’ port of Piraeus takes about eight hours. It sounds like quite a long time to spend in a boat if there are a lot of waves and (possibly) sleeping on the floor is not among your top skills, but it turns out that having to give away a night on sea for then landing on Chios’ port is a great deal. The fifth largest Greek island displays a mix of history, traditions, and worth-going to locations, and three days are just enough to discover its southern part. So, since it might be useful to get there with some previous knowledge of what you can find out on the island, here are some suggestions for what to see and where to go in Southern Chios.
Chios Castle should be among the first places you visit once in the island. It is located close to the port and is going to be the first surprise of your stay. From the outside in fact, the protecting medieval stone walls seem to be the only things left, but right after walking through the door, a village with a mix of Geovese, Ottoman, and modern styles appears inside the walls. Walking through the streets and a visit to the Turkish baths, and to the wall’s edges are mandatory.
Chios island is split in two horizontally, by a chain of tall and green mountains. These areas are scarcely populated now but there were settlements and hamlets throughout history. The village of Anavatos is one of those. It still stands proudly at the top of a very steep peak, but its stone houses are now empty and in ruins, functioning as a reminder of the terrible slaughter perpetrated by Ottoman forces in 1822, and of the damage earthquakes have brought to the islands. The walk to get to the top is a little challenging but again, the reward is pretty good.
Nea Moni is an 11th Century monastery, recognized as a World Heritage Site by Unesco. It is located in those mountains mentioned previously and has been mostly known for its mosaics which are among the finest examples of Macedonian Renaissance art in Greece. This site has been one with much wealth and relevance, both under the Byzantines and the Ottomans, which again, could not be sustained during the Greek War of Independence and the 1881 earthquake, both leaving damages and scars to this complex.
Being an island with more than ninety beaches, it won’t be hard at all to find some great ones. Lithi Beach is one and the others just nearby are a very solid choice too. They are little natural bays accessible by car and by bus, and a great option to spend the last sunny hours of the day given they are facing west, towards the Aegean Sea.
These two villages’ history, culture, and traditions are strictly related to the cultivation of mastic trees, the most important product the island has had, and continues to offer. Mesta has that typical medieval look you’d expect to find somewhere else in Europe, like central Italy or France, while Pyrgi is probably the best example to visualize the impact that the different populations that ruled and controlled the area had. The mix of Ottoman and Geovese architecture with modern geometrical drawings (xysta, in Greek) make it a truly unique location.
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