"Chios island" Top 5 Page for this destination Chios Island by StefanosS

Chios Island Travel Guide: 80 reviews and 165 photos

Chios is one of the islands of the northeast Aegean, the fifth largest island of the Greek islands (842 sq. km.) with a 213 km coastline and a population of approximately 50,000 inhabitants who live in the capital or in the 64 villages. It is situated in the furthest eastern part of the Aegean Sea, just a few nautical miles off the Turkish shore of Asia Minor.

The climate of Chios is typical of the Mediterranean, with usual north or northwest strong winds and temperatures not exceeding 28 or 29 degrees Celcius. Merchant marine plays a very important role in the economy of Chios. The main port is the one of the city of Chios, but there are also some of secondary importance: those of Langada, Marmaro and Mesta.

One of the most important products of the island is mastic, which is exclusively produced on it. It is famous and world - widely renowned for its aroma and taste. It is uniquely cultivated in Mastichochoria and about 20 tons of it is exported to other countries.

Here I have to add a message I got from a VT friend from Turkey:
orhunde Thu Mar 11, 2004 19:11 EET
Mastica also grows in Alacati (Alatsata) and Cesme (Kysus). The Greek and Turkish mixed villages across Chios also cultivated the tree. It cannot be a trademark of the island if it also grows in Turkey. Turks also make the jelly and ouzo out of it.
Thank you my friend !

Early findings dating 2600-2000 BC were revealed in the area of Emboriós (which lies in the southeast region of Chios) while other findings at Aghio Gala prove that the island has been inhabited much earlier. Earliest inhabitant and first King according to tradition, was Oenopion, the son of Dionyssos or Thesseus and Ariadne, who came from Crete and taught the locals how to grow vines. According to another myth, the first king of Chios was Amphiklos or Amphialos, a man that came to the island following an oracle. It is said that the name Chios means mastic, in the Phoenician language. An ancient settlement found in the southern part of the island, in the area of Fana and dating 1600-1100 BC, is probably a remnant of the Mycenaean period. The Greek tribe of the Ionians inhabited Samos, Chios and Asia Minor, connecting thus the island with the rest of the Ionian towns of that time. About the city of Chios there is some evidence that it was developped into one of the greatest cities of the ancient times, the population of which is estimated at 60.000-80.000 people, not counting the slaves. It is said that Homer passed from the island and that Chios inspired the Homeric epics. Around the 7th century BC, Chios not only flourishes in the maritime sector, but in other sectors as well.

Chios, unlike other Greek states, had no colonies. The Chians were creating what was called in Greek “emboría” (meaning trading posts) and they were very famous for their wine and mastic, two of their most popular products, which contributed to the flourishing of the island. When Chios became a member of the Athenian Allience, the inhabitants progressed in navy, commerce, industry and the production of wine. Riches accumulated on the island, which resulted in extreme luxury. Chians were also famous for their ingenuity in cookery and the Chian cooks were dearly sought after. Thoukydides characterises the Chians as the "richest among Greeks".

The Peloponnesian War followed and Chians regretted their defecting from the Athenians, very bitterly. It was the start point of the decline of the island that continued during the Persian Wars, the Macedonian and the Hellenistic period. Roman times and especially the 1st century BC was the darkest period of its history, because of the raids of Mithridates who destroyed cities and monuments and took the inhabitants as slaves to the Black Sea.

After that, slowly, day by day, things started looking up again, but prosperity did not last. The first centuries of the Byzantine Empire were also difficult. During the 7th century AD the Arabs started their naval attacks and piracy flared up, mainly after the 10th century.

In 1042-1055 AD the Emperor Constantine Monomachos keeps his promise and begins builds the Nea Moni Monastery. 30 years later, raids by Turkish pirates and Venetians start. In 1204 AD the Crusaders threaten Chios and later it comes under the Venetians. In 1261, according to the Treaty of Nympheon, Chios is given to the Genoese, who are permitted by the Byzantine Emperor to maintain an establishment there, including a palace, a church, gardens, public baths, dwelling places and their own consul. Raids of Sicilians, Turks and Catalans follow. In 1304-1329 AD Chios comes under the temporary rule of the Genoese. A treaty with the Byzantine Emperor concedes to the Genoese a ten-year right to “protect” the island, provided it remains under Byzantine sovereignty. Remains of the Byzantine period are found in the numerous medieval castles, fortresses and watchtowers (called "vίgles" in the local dialect) scattered all over the island.

The final occupation of the island by the Genoese in 1346 started a new era. During 1346 - 1566 AD Genoese rule and Chios prospers. A commercial Genoese firm named "Maóna" maintains control of the island’s commerce. Although they oppress the inhabitants, they manage to organise the commerce of mastic and the rest of the products. They bring to the island the cultivation of citrus trees and the raising of silkworms. Castle villages are created in the South to protect mastic production and mansions are established in the area of Kambos. The population increases and the standard of living is very high. Although the Turks conquered the Byzantine Empire in 1453 and attacked Chios as well, the Genoese managed to keep them away for more than one century.

Since 1566 the new occupants, the Turks, replaced the Genoese. The Turkish occupation lasted 350 years. The Chians are still oppressed, however, they are granted privileges due to the production of mastic. But the Turks imposed heavy taxes on the Chians and forced them to pay the taxes with mastic. Many Chians with their ships were trading with Europe and many of them studied abroad, offering their knowledge and education to the rest of Greece. When the Greek Revolution against the Turks broke out in 1821, the Chians did not participate, as they had not weapons. Next year, when Lykourgos Logothetis, a Greek rebel chieftain from Samos, came to Chios, he tried to free the island with the help of the locals. This effort failed and the Turk admiral Kapudan Pasha Kara Ali brought the Turkish fleet to the island and started to burn, destroy and massacre the Chians over a period of 15 days in order to punish them for their disobedience and ungratefulness. Over 25,000 people lose their lives during the "Massacre of Chios". The famous French painter Delacroix made a great painting under this title. Soon thereafter, Constantine Kanaris, a marine rebel from the neighbouring island of Psara, led his small fleet to Chios and burned the Turkish flagship into the port of the capital. Admiral Kapudan Pasha Kara Ali, as well as other Turkish officials, lost their lives. They were all buried in the Turkish cemetery that lies in the Castle of Chios town.

The Chians that had managed to escape from the Turks come back in the island in 1832 and begin to rebuild their lives. The harsh freeze of 1852 destroyed the crop while the earthquake of 1881 destroyed everything that had been left standing in addition to taking the lives of 3,500 people. Nevertheless, the Chians did not give up and in 1912, during the 1st Balkan War, the island was liberated by the Greek navy and joined the Greek State. In 1922 thousands of Greek refugees from Asia Minor were installed in Chios.

During the 2nd World War, the Chians fought against Nazism and their island and boats were a permanent getaway of escape to the Middle East. Chios achieved again its liberation in 1944 along with the rest of the Greek State.

Just as in the past, Chians try to make the best out of everything regardless of the suffering they have endured over the centuries. Chios is a rich island and currently maintains a high standard of living as well as a rich culture. Today the prosperity that enjoys Chios in navigation is considered to be one of the most basic elements of its financial section, as 1/3 and more of its inhabitants are sailors.

Map of Chios island

After my tips, please have a look at my following pages:
Chios city (or Chora)
Nea Moni Convent
Emborios - Mavra Volia beach
Olymbi - Kato Fana
Avgonima - Elinda bay
Volissos - the castle

  • Last visit to Chios Island: Aug 2002
  • Intro Updated Jul 22, 2004
  • Add to Trip Planner (?)
  • Report Abuse

Reviews (9)

Comments (5)

  • spitakia's Profile Photo
    Jan 17, 2007 at 12:52 PM

    orhunde lies, There is not mastic in Turkey, maybe a fiew wet tears of liquid from any pistachia species, but not mastic, in the way which is naturaly produced in Chios. There is a lot of mastic in Turkeys market, which is bought from Chios of course.

  • Orkaena's Profile Photo
    Nov 7, 2004 at 7:44 AM

    Excellent page Stefanos, very rich and accurate descriptions. I'm sure Chios worth a visit as soon as possible. Greets from the Patagonia

  • Mar 11, 2004 at 9:11 AM

    Mastica also grows in Alacati (Alatsata) and Cesme (Kysus). The Greek and Turkish mixed villages across Chios also cultivated the tree.It cannot be a trademark of the island if it also grows in Turkey. Turks also make the jelly and ouzo out of it.

  • cadzand's Profile Photo
    Oct 1, 2003 at 11:16 AM

    Those Pyrghi houses are really beautiful. Great info about the mastic trees. Thanks

  • pepples46's Profile Photo
    Sep 27, 2003 at 4:22 PM

    wow Stefanos....a great Sunday orning read about Chios..love totravel to Mesta, looks sooo inviting, thanx for sharing!!


“We are all travellers on the earth. We come...we see...we go...”

Online Now


Top 1,000 Travel Writer
Member Rank:
0 0 7 2 2
Forum Rank:
0 0 2 2 6

Badges & Stats in Chios Island

  • 9 Reviews
  • 11 Photos
  • 1 Forum posts
  • 1,955PageViews

Have you been to Chios Island?

  Share Your Travels  

Latest Activity in Chios Island

Travel Interests

See All Travel Interests (5)