Who doesn’t know Chios, with its ‘mastic villages’ and proud Mediterranean captains? And yet, it’s one of the most unexplored and unspoiled islands of the North Aegean, full of secrets, surprises and hidden treasures. Chios is an island that has been blessed by nature and history. It is fragrant, and authentic, multi-dimensional and irresistible. When you come here on holiday, be prepared to leave behind a little bit of your soul.
What to do on Chios
The fertile and stately Kambos
A network of narrow roads that barely fit a car, tall walls made by skilled stone masons, ornate doors with beautiful arches. Here, in the island’s most fertile valley, once lived the island’s leaders. This is where the aristocratic families of Chios, including the Genovese in the 14th century, built their mansions.
The legendary mastic villages
There are about 20 mediaeval mastic villages in southern Chios. Particularly noteworthy are Pyrgi and Mesta, followed by Vessa, Armolia, Nenita and Patrika. Walking around this cluster of towns is magical, especially in August, when you’ll see trees shedding ‘tears’ of mastic crystals in the surrounding farms.
Mastic: ‘miraculous’ tears
The mastic tree – a low bush with outstretched branches and a bent trunk, related to the pistachio tree – is the symbol of the island. The harvesting of its resin, which consists of making incisions in the tree (what the locals call Kentima or embroidery) results in mastic ‘tears’ dripping from the trunk.
The gentle, fragrant and expensive product is found exclusively on Chios, and has been cultivated here since the 1st century AD. It is also believed to have therapeutic properties. Tradition says that the mastic trees began crying when Agios Isidoros was tortured on Chios by the Romans.
Anavatos, a Byzantine village in the North Aegean
An unforgettable image, Anavatos is a ghostly tower of stone, the ruins of a strongly fortified Byzantine village, still clinging defiantly to the side of the cliff.
Vrontados, a suburb of the island’s capital, is famous for its roketopolemos (rocket wars) which happen every Easter, where thousands of rockets are fired from opposing camps, creating an incredible spectacle across the night sky.
Hidden gems of Chios
The treasures of the north
Discover the stunning natural beauty of northern Chios. Follow the route; Kardamila-Nagos-Amades-Viki-Kambia-Kipouries-Diefha. The landscape surrounding the highest mountain, Pelinaio, is exhilarating, the villages are picturesque and the dirt roads will lead you to secret, secluded beaches.
Nea Moni Monastery and its masterful mosaics
The most important monastery in Chios, and one of the most important in all of Greece, it was established in 1024 by the Byzantine emperor Constantine IX Monomachos. Large, rich and famous, it has been recognised as a Unesco World Heritage Site. At the altar of the Virgin Mary, you’ll see some of the most beautiful mosaics in the world glittering before you.
Gastronomy of Chios
Other than its famed masticha, Chios offers a large choice of local produce and authentic tastes. The gastronomic wealth of this blessed place includes butter and cheeses, such as mastelo; citrus fruit, like the Chios mandarins; ouzo and aromatic liqueurs; wines of excellent quality; local sweets; pasteli (a sesame and honey bar) and of course abundant fresh fish and seafood. Have we whetted your appetite? There’s only one way to satisfy it.
Experience the best of Chios
Exploring the mastic traditions of Chios
- The legendary mastic villages
- Mastic: ‘miraculous’ tears
- Anavatos, a Byzantine village
- Rumbling Vrontados
- Nea Moni Monastery and its masterful mosaics