CITRUS memory scent!
We are driving through the maze of narrow winding alleys where there is nothings else but the endless stone enclosure walls of the estates. The main features of all these estates are the same. It’s the impressive gate leading to the grove, the well, the cistern, the enclosure walls and the large two-storey house of reddish Thymiana stone.
Each of these mansions has an imposing arched gate with the family’s coat of arms emblazoned in marble at the top. We really knew that behind all these walls there are huge orchards with citrus trees and flowers, but we had no idea what to really expect to see before entering the gate of Citrus.
The company is housed in an estate dated from 1742 and it is runned by Mr. Vagelis Xidas and his wife Kleri. The main courtyard is laid with flagstones and shaded by century-old trees, and to the left there stood the large mansion with this local reddish stone. The gardens are beautiful with jasmine bushes and plethora of colourful flowers that surround the whole yard. Behind the garden there is an old green horse-cart , and much behind there is another yard with century-old cypress trees and the imposing arched gate of the family’s coat of arms emblazoned in marble at the top.
Citrus activities include the cultivation of two other orchards in the area, the production of different kind of sweets in a home manufacture unit.
At the citrus shop, the visitor can attend the production of the sweets such as delights and marzipans with different citrus flavors. The list of products also includes conserves and marmelades with orange, tangerine, lemon flavours, Citrus delights, and Traditiona spoon sweets.
I have NEVER tasted similar marmelades in my life. Actually I am not a person who likes sweets, but after tasting some marmelades there, I have become fond of them. The tangerine marmelade is exceptional - you have to trust me and taste it.
When you come to Citrus you have the opportunity to “walk” through the history of the citrus fruit of Cambos in the halls of Citrus Memories. A visitor has the opportunity to watch a twenty minute documentary with facts and testimonials and general information on the cluster consisting of orchards, citrus fruit, commerce and culture as they interweave in harmony at Cambos.
The visitor has the opportunity to see an array of farming tools and elements relating to the plant origins of the different varieties of the citrus fruit, and gives an introduction to the cultivation and harvesting of the crops.
Guests can have a look to some very old photos and images of the society and the people who have lived and still live among the marvelous orchards of Cambos. A voyage through the centuries with both good and bad moments which have marked the historical course not only of the area, but the island itself.
In a short distance from the medieval village of Olympi visit the Cave with the stalactite.
It will impress you. The depth is 57m.
According to what the speleologists say, the first phase dated material goes back to the late Jurassic Era, - 150 million years ago.
The second phase refers to the Cenozoic Era - 50 million years ago.
The cave formations are still in a stage of develpment, having been explored in 1985.
The cave is considered to be ranged amongst the most remarkable and beautiful caves of Greece.
A bar is available at the premises.
Open Hours: From Tuesday to Sunday (10am - 8pm)
It is closed on Monday.
For information call from 9am till 5 pm.
The volcanic beach of Mavra Volia is a beach with black pebbles about 5 kms from Pyrgi, close to the city of Emborio. The beach consists entirely of black pebbles due to the volcanic activity of the past.
The colour of water here is dark blue but very clear, and the beach is wonderful. There are actually 3 beaches one next to the other under the same name.
These black pebbles give the beach something special, and it is worth visiting it.
Be careful from the sun!
One tip from me here is that you should be careful with the sun protection because the black colour of the pebbles reflects the heat and radiation.
In the surround area there are some restaurants, cafes, studios for rent.
Anavatos is another interesting village 6 kms from Avgonima, that can’t be missed. A visit here is compulsory. I believe it is one of the most dramatic settings of any village in Greece.
The word “Anavatos” means inaccessible, or unreachable. It is perched precariously on a large granite rock off the edge of a cliff. The view from the car as we drive towards it is astonishing.
The village was built on a conical cliff with steep sides to the south and west, and with only a single access to the north.
The natural protection came in handy when the Turks besieged the island. After the horrible slaughters of 1822 people living here abandoned their village.
Its overall shape of the settlement is quite well-preserved to give a unique picture of a ghost town surrounded by a wild and rough natural environment.
There were 400 houses inside the walls very narrow built made of gray stone with flat wooden roofs, very low doors, and tiny arched windows.
Nowadays, Anavatos is considered to be a National Monument for all the Chians and Greeks.
The restoration projects unfortunately have recently stopped because of lack of money, and when I return back I meet the only inhabitant of the village – Smaragda who lives permanently here, playing a game of backgammon with a friend. Maria Sarri one of Greece’s beloved artist has a small house here too.
Another medieval village (14th and 15th centuries) located in the southern Chios. It is very popular and it seems to be one of the villages with the most life.
It is the best preserved fortified village and one of the very old Churches of “Taxiarche” is found here. The old Church is 5 minutes walk from the central square of the village. This Church is visible from a distance because it is really large, covering an area of 450 m2.
Mesta has been designated a listed monument and has been perfectly preserved village-castle of the Byzantine period. It keeps its houses tied tightly together in what seems like a closed and compact form.
The streets are narrow and stone-paved and are connected to the Central Tower Square. At frequent intervals there are transverse archways supporting the structures, as well as vaults and arches supporting the rooms.
The houses, especially those that form the castle do not provide any open space or gardens and the reason is that they were built in a way that unites them all.
There are cases when the boundaries of two neighbouring houses can be hardly distinguished.
I walk through the narrow streets and I come to Aghia Paraskevi. This road brings me to the Square of the village, where I learn that the villagers call it “Livadi”. For the locals, a daily stroll in this Square is considered necessary. It is the place where everyone can see each other, friends meet to chat and have a drink and talk about the daily routine. It seems like an oasis to the locals after an exhausting day.
I am sure nobody leaves Chios without visiting Mesta.
Your visit will be unforgettable.
What a fascinating place to be!!!
Avgonima is a very popular, - probably pre- medieval village, centrally located on the island. It is just 17 km from the city of Chios, and 25 minutes drive from the airport. You can find it written both as “Avgonima or Avgonyma”. The name means " Clutch of Eggs".
It is upon a slope, about 450 metres above sea level, and the whole drive coming out here takes you first through olive groves but as you approach towards the village, you come to rich vegetation of pine forest. Its low stone houses are known all over the island. The reason why people built their houses on top of hills was to protect their families from probable invaders those years.
As you drive and approach the village you are amazed with what you see - the whole medieval village on top of a hill with its stone houses all around. You will surely want to get out of the car and take photos.
You get more excited upon reaching the village and come to its medieval square. You will feel as if you are on top of the world - believe me!
During the 19th century, the people of Avgonima used to carry goods from one place to the other on their mules, or buy the local produce of the nothern villages, pack it and re-sell it at a profit.
In the 1960s the village was almost abandoned and its inhabitants migrated to the cities. This, however, was a blessing in disguise, since the area kept its style intact.
Recently, people started to buy these old houses and have them restored thus bringing life to the old village once again.
The permanent residents of the village are now about 30 people, mostly pensioners. The abundance of fresh water, the free public transport twice a day to and from the western villages of the municipality of Omiroupolis on a three times a week basis, has contributed to its revival.
The village used to have two schools, in the past with many students. Now there is none! The Tower of the village opposite the Church was the older one, and now it is turned to a Traditional accommodation with some fine rooms to be let. On the ground floor it is the village’s central Restaurant –called “Pyrgos” and it is just opposite St. George’s church. Also, there’s “Archontiko” at the entrance of the village, which used
to be the recent local school of the village, but since there are no more students it is turned to Traditional Apartments.
During winter there are not more than 30 people living here, - mostly pensioners, however in the weekends many locals who live in the City of Chios or in other areas drive here, many of whom stay over the weekend. Of course during the summer months the village has many more visitors, many of whom own a house here who come to spend their summer holidays
It is very popular to tourists and the lucky ones to visit Avgonima are thrilled with what they see. That same afternoon when we arrived, some tourists were driven to Avgonima and they were posing and taking photos in the narrow streets of the village. As usual I had the opportunity to talk to them and see what they think of this village. They were so excited and told me that they will be visiting it soon and spend some days out here. They were from a cruise ship and had some free hours to see some of the island, but they said, they were sad having to return so soon back to their cruise ship
In the afternoon take a stroll to the other side of the village and watch the amazing sunset. The colours and lights and the peaceful coasts you see, will reward you.
There is a restaurant there where you can sit and enjoy a romantic dinner out, watching the beautiful sunset.
Be sure not to miss this village.
VESSA is one of the famous mastichochoria and along with others have the best-preserved fortified settlements of the island. Vessa was built between the 14th and the 16th centuries in order to control and protect the inhabitants and their valuable product which was the mastic resin.
It is really so historical, and picturesque and I was amazed seeing that many of the original houses out here still survive.
Vessa preserves its medieval character and this is the reason I am here to see all this.
The people are really friendly, and I walked throughout the village where I found women in beautiful small gardens chatting with friends. I sat with them and told them that they are lucky that they live in such a beautiful place.
They however told me that they got tired of these houses they live in, and wished they had more modern houses instead. I added that they were so wrong, and because of these very old houses their little town is so unique and beautiful.
The village have 2 very old churches of exceptional beauty.
Upon reaching the centre of the village you come to a big square with sycamore trees.
The old school now houses a coffee shop. The lady there is called Lemonia.
She runs this small business and is renting the building from the Municipality.
We had lunch and dinner there the 2 days we spent in this village.
The restaurant and coffee shop offers free internet service to its guests.
Vessa is a medieval village that lies in the center of a big agricultural basin and it has a main gate, which is in a very good condition. The area has a well laid -out streets and high narrow buildings that look like towers. Although the fortified surrounding wall has been split, the whole village stone houses remain in a very good condition but many off them are dilapidated and empty. There are many big and wealthy houses in the area that were built by prosperous emigrants. Among the village churches is Panagia, Agios Dimitrios and Panagia Petrousena, which is considered to be the most ancient church of Chios, according to the locals. e most ancient church of Chios, according to the locals.
Chios is an island adorned with beaches of all types and for all tastes.
The most cosmopolitan beaches and also the closest ones to the main town of Chios are :
Karfa Beach - a beach with fine sand situated on the south and Vrontados, Daskalopetra and Ormos Lo on the north.
There is a frequent bus-service from the main town to the beaches.
After hundreds of years of history it is understandable that the primal forests on Chios have all been cut. But in the area of Nea Moni, Anavatos and Avgonima is a precious little pine covered forest surrounding the area that is the most significant remaining forest on the island of Chios.
Here in this fragrant pine forest, with its back to Elinda Bay and the Aegean Sea and boldly facing the mountain heights, is the story book like village of Avgonima. The road going to Nea Moni will also take you to this well-preserved stone village that is almost a hidden treasure of Chios.
Today, there are only a few permanent residents living in the village, however, many of the urban dwellers of Chios own summer homes here such that the summer months bring crowds of people that fill up these little stone houses.
The stone building of Avgonima blend in with the background rock forming a camouflage that hides the town from a distance unless you are alert. The streets of the village are narrow and meandering. It is fun to walk around and see what is around the next corner. One simply cannot get lost. If you have already visited Anavatos then you can see the contrast between these two villages. They have the same kind of stone buildings but here they are decorated with gardens and flora that take away all of the harsh edges. This is what Anavatos must have looked like before it was destroyed.
And if you are lucky you will stumble upon some serene sights of the blue Aegean Sea and its beaches and maybe, on a clear day, even of the neighboring island of Psara.
In the hills to the west of Chios city stands Nea Moni, the island's most important Byzantine monument. Nea Moni (New Monastery), founded by a monk named Constantine, was built in the 11th century and for hundreds of years was the most important religious site on the island. It remains as one of the best examples of Byzantine architecture, extraordinary frescoes and mosaics in Greece.
Nea Moni was central to a very dark drama that played out here in 1822. For you see, this monastery and all of those who fled here for protection suffered to the last person during the Ottoman invasion of 1822. It was the culmination of situation that began in the mid-1500's.
In the middle 1500s much of Greece was conquered by the Ottoman Turks. Chios was taken without a fight. Due to the fact that the Ottomans saw a great deal of profit coming out of Chios they wisely ruled with a benevolent hand. But the people always saw themselves as Greeks. So when Greece revolted against the Ottoman rule in 1821 Chios ultimately decided to join the revolution. The people knew they had much to lose but longed for independence from Turkey.
After hundreds of years of benign rule, Sultan Mahmud II was enraged that Chios opted to join in the Greek revolution. A Turkish army numbering 7,000 was sent to the island to punish the people for their disloyalty. The resulting slaughter was almost unimaginable.
Of the 118,000 people living in Chios, only 1,800 remained in Chios after the invaders cut down the population like cord wood. All of the inhabitants and refugees at Nea Moni were killed. Many of the people of Chios that they spared were sold as slaves. About 50,000 women and children were sold to brothels and slave markets in Constantinople and elsewhere.
The massacre of Chios shocked and enraged Western Europe into giving support to Greece for its independence. But Chios remained apart from Greece until a treaty signed in 1923.
The last tragedy to befall Nea Moni was the terrible earthquake of 1881. The dome, the belfry and the vault of the church collapsed and many of its wonderful mosaics were damaged. Currently some restoration work is underway.
Near the center of Chios island is the village of Anavatos. It is perched precariously high on a rocky elevation with sides so steep it can only be approached from one direction. The walls and buildings of the town were built to defend it from its enemies. Unfortunately, that hope was crushed in a most dramatic way. But the natural defenses of the site make it probable it was originally founded to control the island's west coast during the period of piracy during the 15th century and later.
The town was attacked and overrun during the Ottoman invasion of 1822. Many of the women of the town threw themselves off of the high cliffs to death to avoid falling into the hands of the Ottomans.
Today the village is completely deserted and in ruins but the overall shape of the settlement is quite well-preserved to give a unique picture of a ghost town surrounded by a wild and rough natural environment.
When you visit and climb to the heights you can use your imagination to see the advancing Turkish troops and to understand the panic and despair of the trapped residents that would force them into unthinkable acts of desperation.
This hallowed place is now a Greek National Monument.