Pictures and images of the Aegean Island of Chios, Greece. Chios is a fascinating and unspoilt Island a few kilometres off the Turkish coast. In the south of the Island Mastic trees grow which produce a resin that is a delicacy used in Lokum or Turkish / Greek Delight and in puddings, skin creams and natural gum sweets. Chios is virtually the only place Mastic is produced and in the past this resin was worth more than its weight in gold. When the Genoese governed the southern mastic growing area they build fortified villages whose medieval narrow streets are still unspoilt and in tact. Mastic is not the only unique feature of southern Chios. The village of Pygri has become famous for its unique Xysta, black and white geometric patterns painted on the buildings. The effect of the Xysta are dramatic creating streets alive with a riot of geometric patterns. Nobody is sure where these patterns come from but the geometric shapes could well be traced to the patterns typical in Islamic designs.
The middle and north of Chios is dominated by high mountains up to 1297m high and steep cliffs dropping into the Aegean Sea. High up in the mountains in the centre of the Island are the ruins and basilica of The Nea Moni Monastery. The Byzantine of Nea Moni built by Constantine IX and Empress Zoe after the miraculous appearance of an Icon of the Virgin Mary at the site and inaugurated in 1049. The main church has Byzantine mosaics and frescos. The chapel at the gatehouse hold a chilling Ossuary of skulls of victims of the Ottoman sack of Chios. In 1821 the Greeks made a bid for freedom from Ottoman rule and started a War of Independence. When Turkish civilians were massacred the Ottomans took their revenge on Chios just a few kilometres offshore. It is estimated some 25,000 Chiots lost their lives in the sack of Chios and only the people from the Mastic area in the south were spared as Mastic was one of the Sultans favourite food. Several hundred priests and hiding civilians were massacred in Nea Moni and the Monastery was looted. Villagers dived off high cliffs to their deaths rather than face a ruthless death or worse at the hand of the Ottoman troops. This tragic period of the history of Chios has left uninhabited villages in the centre of the Island.
Chios is a magic island with deserted beaches even in high season and fascinating villages, caves and a vibrant culture to explore.
Ou thanks to the very friendly New Zelander Don at the Chios Rooms where, if you like a friendly guest house where you can chat to and get advice from Don, you can base yourself to explore the Island. http://www.chiosrooms.com/contact/en/