Chios is one the of the largest islands in the Aegean and is famous for its mastic gum. Take time to visit the mediaeval castle village of Mesta, the capital. Follow the arrows painted on the walls, passing the beautiful church in the centre which leads on to the old square where the locals sit around drinking coffee and watching the world go by. Visit Pyrgi to see the mastic houses and the lovely tiny resort of Emborios where the closest beach at Anavatos has black sand.
Masticulture run by Vassillis and Roula organise trips where visitors can participate in the cultivation of the mastic trees. Their office can be found in the main square at Mesta.
Buses run hourly between Karfas to Chios Town and taxis are readily available for the return trip after dinner at the harbour.
This is an old monastery that is now a UNESCO site. My favorite things about it were the views and wandering around all the buildings and ruins. It was under renovation while we were there but I still think it was an amazing place and I'm definitely looking forward to seeing it once all the work is finished.
The main church had signs saying no one could enter, but people went in anyway and the workers didn't seem to mind. Just dress modestly (covered shoulders) and stay out of their way. I refrained from taking pictures as well to avoid drawing attention to myself. The inside was filled with beautiful artwork and gorgeous mosaics. I had never seen religious mosaics in person and was stunned by how amazing they were.
Built right in the middle of the island this monastery was built in the 11th c. by the Byzantine Emperor Constantinos Monomachos. Adorned with beautiful mosaics, this has been an Unesco World Heritage Site since 1990.
A handful of nuns are still there to treat you to a lukumi and water. Best time to visit is on a Good Friday when the procession of the flower adorned Epitaphios takes place in the courtyard followed by priests, nuns and people chanting. Under certain weather conditions you could believe you were still living in the Middle Ages.
You can get there by car, but you could also try hiking off the beaten track that will take you through some beautiful countryside with unexpected waterfalls and little brooks. This way goes up from the Girl's Bridge (Tis Koris to Gefyri) You must ask a local for directions on this.
Besides the dark robes of the Holy Fathers, the brightness of the Heavenly Angels border the edges of the walls of the main church at Agios Pateras....So nice to think that there are angels waiting for us.
Watch out! The 'Never Sleeping Eye' is watching from above!
I always thought this 'Eye' symbol was most commonly seen in the mysteries of the Masonic Temple! This is the first time I have seen such a symbol so largely portrayed in the ceiling of a church! Very imposing indeed!
Most people when looking at icons, frescos and painted walls in churches, tend to look only at the faces and clothing of the Saints depicted.
If, however, you pay close attention to the details surrounding the figures, you will perhaps be surprised by the interesting and unexpected figures. Under the heavy, overwhelming robes of the figures on the main church at Agios Pateras, you can see some very small, but unique animals.
I wonder why the artists decided to include these animal figures under the feet of the many Saints in these compositions? Were there such wild animals in Greece at one time, or were these pictures meant to portray scenes in Africa's deserts and plains of days gone by? Maybe the artist was bored by having only to paint religious scenes for his rich patrons and longed for his artistic freedom to explore other artistic images? So, he hid his fantasy menagerie of animals under the dark robes of the Fathers of the Church?
The most impressive thing to see at this monastery, are the magnificent icons and frescos painted on the walls of the main church. The monastery is a very large, rich monastery, but did not seem to be inhabited by many monks at the time I visited. I met with the 'Gerontos' who was called "Agonothikos' who showed me his kindness by giving me a cool glass of water, some lovely 'loukoumia,' a sweet sugary treat, and some healthy dried figs. We chatted for 15 minutes and he told me a bit about the monastery. He seemed quite interested in learning about my personal life, if I were married, if I had children, if my son was married and if he had any children. When I told him my son did not have children, he told me what I should do so my son's wife would become pregnant...He told me that I should take some special grapes, that he would give me, press the juice from them and send the juice for his wife to drink. The grapes, which would be blessed by the 'gerontos' would then help which ever woman drank this juice to have children! Could the same thing happen if you just drank some good wine???? I suspect so!
Anyway, it was a lovely morning that I spent at this monastery, especially since I managed to wander into the church unseen and was able to take some rather interesting photos of the very impressive icons and frescos.
The hill side around the beautiful Nea Moni Monastery have been traced by paths meant for hikers and nature lovers. The paths are clearly designated and the times for each destination written on the wooden signs at the beginning of the trails.
Be careful, as when walking in any dry forest area, that you light NO MATCHES OR CIGARETTES! You cannot help but see the remnants of previous fires that have ravaged the hills of Chios and of all of Greece, especially this summer of 2007!
The monastery of Nea Moni is the most famous church in Chios. The mosaic designs on the walls are of international fame. I was very lucky the day I visited to have met the man who was painting the interior of the church during its renovation. The work in the church will not be finished until December, 2007, so you may not be able to go into the church if you visit before then...unless you find my friend, Mr. Tsairis busy painting the walls!
If you do find Mr. Tsairis painting, ask him to show you the one small tile that is the only original tile that exists and from which all the walls are being painted by looking at the design on this tile! Amazing! Originally, the church walls were original marble, but these marble tiles were destroyed in an earthquake. After, the walls were painted to look like the original marble, but this was also destroyed by a fire. Now, the modern restoration will soon be complete and another visit must be had to see the finished work. Next year!
All along the coast lines of Chios, you will see the castles that were used to look out for invading pirates. I wonder if the workers got overtime pay? Must have been pretty cold in the winter! No Television, No Computers, No microwave ovens to heat up the food! Coffee??? Probably only some stong 'tsipouro' to keep the bones from aching!
Anyway, there sure make for great photos today!
Drive along the coast from Vollisos to Sidirounda and you will come to this beautiful spot called Elinda Beach. The sea is very cold here, but clean and few people again! This was in the middle of the busiest tourist season in Chios, in August!
Everywhere you drive, you will find long, beautiful beaches. Many very beautiful ones can be found in the Volisos area. The beaches are long, with small stones and sand. The water is cool are clean. You may even find a few campers, free camping in tents or caravans...
I should mention here that, until now, this tip was under the "off the beaten path" section. BUT I realised afterwards that Emporios is not really off the beaten path in August, so I choose to move this tip for you (and lost all these magnificent ratings, if this is not a sacrifice then what is?). My advice, visit the place in July.
It's like a dream if you like something relaxing. Check my relevant accomodation tip, the photo!!!
Can you believe this place???
The sea is good, people were swimming but we, as others too, preffered to go to the more touristy nearby beach of Komi (2 minutes by car). So we enjoyed our relaxation away from the crowds while sleeping, resting, dinning and we had the "tourist" part as well.
Emporios has some seafood tavernas, where we enjoyed fresh fish just beside the sea.
The midieval mastic villages. Welcome to mastic birthplace and hometown. Getting there, you visit small villages of the midieval ages. Just leave you car outside the village, car is forbidden inside and take a tour on foot. Every village has a central square, a church and 2-3 old-fashioned cafeterias. Ask for greek coffee and enjoy your pass-to-the-past.
Each one of those villages is different and it's really worth it. If you don't have time to see all of them, then don't miss Pirgi, Mesta and Vessa.
After all, Mastichochoria in greek means "The villages of mastic".
At the north-east part of the island, there's a small village. The famous Black Beach is here. Small black rocks, long black beach, cool and clear water. When enter the sea you don't want to come out!