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Chios map, plattegrond

The island of Chios was planned for a visit in October 2007, but instead we made another visit to Crete. Chios is situated in the eastern part of the Aegean Sea between Lesbos (or: Lesvos) in the north and Samos in the south. The island of Chios is very close to the mainland of Turkey (5.5 kilometer). This is the fifth largest island in Greece but still small enough to offer you a very special kind of hospitality and culture. Like many of the Greek islands, Chios has a colourful and sometimes violent past. Today you will find superbly preserved medieval villages, Byzantine monasteries, interesting architecture showing the various influences of the island rulers throughout it's history and of course, ancient monuments and an abundance of churches and monasteries. Chios claims to be (without any proof) the birthplace of the poet Homer.

Chios Chios Chios Chios Chios
Chios Chios Chios Chios Chios
Hotels on Chios

Of course there are quite a few hotels and different kinds of accommodations to choose from on the island of Chios, including private holiday houses and villas.

For all hotels, studios, apartments and villas on the island of Chios in Greece - click here.

Panorama Studios & Apartments in Karfas Chios
Panorama Studios & Apartments, Karfas, Chios Panorama Studios & Apartments, Karfas, Chios Panorama Studios & Apartments, Karfas, Chios Panorama Studios & Apartments, Karfas, Chios Panorama Studios & Apartments, Karfas, Chios
Panorama Studios & Apartments, Karfas, Chios Panorama Studios & Apartments, Karfas, Chios Panorama Studios & Apartments, Karfas, Chios Panorama Studios & Apartments, Karfas, Chios Panorama Studios & Apartments, Karfas, Chios

Panorama Studios & Apartments is located on the side of a hill, in a natural environment; away from city noises and the bustle of bars and restaurants- and only 300 metres away from the beach. The view is panoramic; The Aegean Sea and the shores of Asia Minor lay at the feet of our fully equipped rooms. Our hotel is ideal for families and those seeking a quiet carefree stay in a natural environment with a beautiful view.

Karfas is a coastal resort at a 6 kilometer distance of the capital Chios Town, and it is situated in the soutwest of the island. It is the largest tourist resort of the island and there is a long sandbeach where it is easy to get into the water (and so also safe for children). All facilities like umbrella's and sunbeds are available on the beach and you can also practise all kinds of watersports. Karfas is also a nice place for snorkling. There is a wide variety in restaurants and bars, and there are minimarkets for the every day shopping. Most of them are directly near the bay and spread over lenght the beach. the village doen't really have a center. In the main street of the village there is a bank / cashmachine where you can withdraw money. The surroundings of Karfas are beautiful and green and suitable for walks. Also on a cycle you can explore the area. On Chios the public transport isn't the best so if you want to really explore the island than it pays off to rent a car.

Check availabilities and prices & book Chios Panorama Family Studios in Chios - click here.

Hotel Residence SeaBreeze Apartments - Agios Ioannis Agios Emilianos / Chios
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This apartment complex consist of 18 apartments of different Sizes from 50 sq meters to 71, and 120 sq meters all facing the ocean. The location is one of the finest in Chios island, in Agios Ioannis, Agios Emilianos 9 kilometers from Chios airport and 10 to Chios town, an ideal quite charming natural location, with its own beach, walking distance to Agia Fotini beach and Agios Emilianos in between 3 marvelous beaches. The complex is of high standard ,with full facilities of (leave your home and find your home). Separate bedroom living room, kitchen, 2 cooking rings, large refrigerator, coffee machine, toaster, radio & CD player, satellite tv, ( air condition at 8 euro/day optional payable direct to hotel), unique exclusivity a private residence to call your own for your stay, rent a Sea Breeze apartment and blend pampering and convenience when traveling with family or friends on vacation. Leaving you free to choose how to make most of the day. Facilities: mini market, pool bar, swimming pool, internet access at reception.

Check availability and prices & book the Residence Seabreeze Apartments in Chios - click here.

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Chios Chios Chios Chios Chios
The history of Chios

Archeological signs tell that Chios was already inhabited in the neolithicum (4th millenium BC). Also younger villages from the 3d and 2nd millenium BC have been found and they prove that Chios belongs to the same cultural background as the neighbouring islands of Lesvos and Lemnos and the area around Troy. In the 9th century BC ionian Greeks from the mainland came to Chios and to the coasts of Minos Asia to settle there. Around 800 BC Homer was supposedly born here.

In the 7th and the 6th century BC Chios prospered: political stablity created economic wealth and a happy life. After 546 BC Chios became part of Persia. The Persians occupied the island in 494 BC at the beginning of the Persian wars. After the sea battle at Mycale in 479 BC the island was freed by the Athenian fleet. In 190 BC the island was conquered by the Romans.

In the Byzantine period, and mainly in the 11th and 12th century, Chios florished again. In the 13th century the Venetians ruled the island, but onder Genua (from 1346 to 1566) that they started the proffitable trade in mastic, that turned Chios into one of the richest islands in the Mediteranean Sea. The rulers from Genua also stimulated farming and silk trade, and made the villages stronger because of the attacks of pirates.

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Chios Chios Chios Chios Chios
The Turkish occupation

In 1566 the island was conquered by the Turkish, but Chios enjoyed a couple of privileges, so it remained prosperous because of the trade in silk and other valuable things, next to the main export products: citrus fruits, mastic and wine. The rich merchants that gradually formed a wealthy group of citizens, erased a Megali Scholi (large school) on Chios, build mansions and churches and send their sons to the European universities. In 1822 the inhabittants witnessed one of the bloodiest slaughters in the war for independance, that started a year before. The people of Chios had trapped the Turkish soldiers on their island, and thought that they had already won the battle when the Sultan occupied the island with its fleet and took back control of Chios. The capitol and 40 villages were sacked, 30.000 people were killed and almost double this amount were enslaved. This tragedy opened the eyes of Europe for the cruelty of the Ottoman Empire. The inhabittants that remained were granted to go back to their old activities. Chios was only partially recovered from its wounds when it was hit by a massive earthquacke in 1881 that made a lot of damage. The island remained under Turkish rule until 1912, when it became part of the Greek Kingdom.

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Chios Chios Chios Chios Chios
The sights of Chios

The Nea Moni Monastery. This famous New Monastery was founded in 1402 by the Byantine emperor Constantine IX Monómachos, on the spot where 3 hermits under mysterious circumstances had found an icon of the Holy Virgin Maria. The Holy Virgin Mary predicted the hermits in a vision that Constantinos, the sun in law of Emperor Constantinos VII, would climb to the throne of Constantinopel within short time. This Constantinos lived in exile on the island of Lesbos. The three monks visited him to tell him of the vision. He promised that if the prediction would come through he would built a monastery on the spot where the icon of the Virgin Mary was found. After Constantinos indeed was proclaimed the new emperor the construction of the Nea Moni Monastery began in 1042. The monastery was given countless privileges from the emperor and thus became one of the richest monasteries in Greece. This wealth more or less came to a sudden end in 1802 when the monastery had to pay a big penalty to the Turkish rulers after two Turkish women had converted to Christianity. The Nea Moni Monastery was forced to sell the land that they owned.

The architecture and the mosaics and painting are typical for the socalled "Renaissance" of the 11th century, the official emperial court-art under the Macedonian dynasty. The Chapel of the Holy Cross, at the monastery entrance, contains part of the skulls and bones of 600 monks and 3,500 women and children who were massacred after seeking refuge here during the horrors of 1822 when almost the whole population of Chios was either murdered or taken away to be sold as slaves by the Ottoman Turks. Many of the monks were killed and the monastery complex was set on fire. An earthquake in 1881 did more damage to the monastery. The dome collapsed and the mosaic floors were severely damaged. The floor mosaics that can still be seen in the monastery are amongst the most important examples of Byzantine art that was made in the 11th and 12th century. These mosaics were a gift from the Byzantine emperor. The frescoes on the walls and the domes have disappeared (with the exception of one very small detail). The central dome once had the image of the Virgin Mary and eight martyrs on it. However, there are more mosaics on the walls to be seen representing saints and the betrayal of Judas.

The Nea Moni Monastery is situated 13 kilometers west of Chios Town and is open for the public every day (but closed between 13.00 and 16.00). The ride to the monastery through the desolate mountain landscape is pretty impressive. On the last stretch to the monastery there are large cypress trees on either sides of the road. Instead of the 300 monks who once lived there are now only two people. With the monastery there is a museum where the treasures of the monastery can be seen (open 8.00-13.00). There is also a cemetery close to the monastery (at about 200 meter away) where under the small church you can see a crypt with thousands of skulls that are piled in rows.

Chios, Nea Moni Monastery & Chapel of the Holy Cross Chios, Nea Moni Monastery & Chapel of the Holy Cross Chios, Nea Moni Monastery & Chapel of the Holy Cross Chios, Nea Moni Monastery & Chapel of the Holy Cross Chios, Nea Moni Monastery & Chapel of the Holy Cross

The Mastic Villages. The twenty mastichochória (mastic villages), in the south of Chios, owe their name to the profitable extraction of mastic that has been practiced here since the Middle Ages. In the 14th and 15th century the Genoese founded these villages far inland to protect them from attacks by pirates. They are all identically reinforced with corner towers. The evergreen, 1 to 3m high mastic bushes (Pistaccia lentiscus) on Chios separate an aromatic substance from that before the arrival of products based on oil, was used for paints, cosmetics and medicines (chronic cough and stomach pain). Nowadays mastic is used for the production of chewing gum, liquor and toothpaste. Each summer, some 300 tons of mastic are extracted from the bark.

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These mastic villages are the only villages that have been spared from the massacre that took place in 1822 after a revolt. This confirms the suspicion that the massacre of Chios was commissioned by the harem ladies of the Sultan, who were so addicted to the chewing of mastic: the production had to be continued whatever happened. Pyrgi is famous for its brightly colored houses, many of which are decorated with geometrical patterns (xystrá), unique in Greece. Mesta is one of the best preserved mastic villages. It still has its original towers. The impressive Taxiárchis Church in Mesta dating from the 19th century is the largest church of the island of Chios.

Chios, Kimisis Church in Pirgi Chios, Kimisis Church in Pirgi Chios, Kimisis Church in Pirgi Chios, Kimisis Church in Pirgi Chios, Kimisis Church in Pirgi

The deserted village of Anavatos on Chios -
The deserted medieval village of Anavatos with its 400 huises on Chios is also worth a visit. You cannot see the village from a dsitance because it is totally embedded in the rocks as a protection against the Turks. Anavatos is situated on the top of a mountain and can only be reached from the south. Anavatos means unreachable, and it was a hide-away for the inhabitants of Chios. The way to Anavatos could not be found by people that did not know the island of Chios. This natural protection came in handy when the Turks besieged the island. The Turks could not find the way to the top and so the people of Anavatos were safe. In the end they were betrayed and in 1822 there was a terrible slaughter in Anavatos. Eversince the village has been deserted.

The road to Anavatos leads through a valley with olive trees and pines. Suddenly you see a rock pop up in front of you. At first glance that rock looks empty, but if you take a better look you can see the small cubic shaped houses on the top. The cliff is surrounded by deep ravines and can only be reached from one side. You can park your car in the parking and then walk up the stairs past the ruins to the village. Originally the village was built on this spot as protection against attacks by the Arab pirates and there were more than 400 homes and several churches. In the massacre that took place in 1822, many people jumped into the ravine. The Turks massacred the people, and put the village on fire. Some people that had escaped and fled later returned and began to rebuild the village. In 1881 during the severe earthquake, all houses were destroyed and after this the last inhabitants left for good.

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Temple of Athena and the Acropolis at Emporio -
Just before the entrance to the village Emporio you see a sign that points to the Acropolis of Emporio. You follow a path up and then you finally after a big climb youw wille end up at the Temple of Athena, two altars and a megaron. A megaron is an elongated building that was used as a palace and that had several rooms.

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Chios Chios Chios Chios Chios

The monastery of Panagia Rouchouniotissa and the church of St. Jan of Argenti near the village of Kataraktis -
This village is located 16 kilometer south of Chios Town. A good number of people also visit the old Kataraktis, which is located 2 kilometer away. Although the village is deserted, it is particularly important because of the damaged medieval houses and Byzantine churches.

Chios Chios Chios Chios Chios
Chios Chios Chios Chios Chios

Chios City -
The modern city of Chios (24,000 inhabitants) is the capital of the eponymous Greek island and department (nomos) Chios. It is located on the east coast of the island, which is higher than the same city from ancient times (of which little remains). Ionian settlers chose this place for once, because it easily from here to Little Asian mainland could sail, and not so much because it was good anchorage. Although the city is relatively new (few dates before 1881), there are a number of museums and other tangible evidence of the eventful history of the island. The Kastro (fortress) was originally a Byzantine fortress complex by the Genoese substantially rebuilt. The area inside the castle offered the Turkish occupying a secure residence the following centuries. It is the grave of the Turkish admiral Kara Ali ( "Ali Black") that the warrant alleged massacre of 1822 when he was killed when the Greek admiral Kanaris his ship destroyed. It is still Koraïs the library with its collection of more than 130,000 books a major libraries of the Aegean islands. This library has grown around the legacy of Adamantios Korais who failed his books to the island where his family originally came from.

Near the village Vrontádos (4 km north of the center) is Daskalópetra or Teachers Rock, a rock throne with a circle of brick seats where the poet Homer was given instruction, but rather what the archaeologists recognize as a cult place for the eastern goddess Cybele. Not far away is the grave of the writer Ioannis Aris Psych.

On the outskirts of the village Vavíli (7 km south of the center) is the 13th-century Byzantine church Panagia Krína, famous for its frescoes and beautiful architecture

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Chios Chios Chios Chios Chios
Chios Car rental - Rent a car on the island of Chios

I have no idea how it is with car hire at Chios, but in any case, I would like to rent a car during my visit for the whole period (the plan is one week) so we can go and really see the island. Do you have good experiencess or do you have any suggestions for a reliable and good car on the island of Chios then please let me know! We prefer to pick up the car at the airport, but it may also be that we fly to Samos and then go by ferry to Chios and arrive in Chios town, so a car rental company in Chios town or Karfas is okay. Chios is quite large so it pays to rent a car for at least a few days if you're there.

A car rental option would be Auto Europe.

Tips for car rental from people that have been on the island

Here are some tips for car rentals from a visitor to the island who has rented a car herself: "We recently visited Chios (23/8- 6/9) for a week and rented a car in Karfas (where we stayed). We have good experiences with a car rental owned by E & Th. Dourloudados in Karfas. Very nice and flexile man, He also rents out motors and scooters.

Here are his data: E & Th. Dourloudados, Koudouriotou 2 Chios. Tel. 2271042423.
Karfas 2271032690 Home 2270 27758. Mobil Phone 6976229820 69768292 76

In that period (23/8- 6/9 2007) we paid for a Hyundai Atos 4 doors and AC. 35, - a day, at 3 days or more 30,- a day. Total 210,- All in. Own risc 300,-
Send an e-mail to the Car Rental on Karfas / Chios.

In Karfas there is also a Europecar. There the price for the same car was the same for a week, only the own risc was 500 euro or even a bit more I believe. Europecar and Hertz are also situated at the small airport of Chios."

© Hans Huisman, Paul Jakobs, Bert de Graaf, 2014
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