"See the ancient monastary of Nea Moni" Chios Island Off The Beaten Path Tip by WorldPassenger
Chios Island Off The Beaten Path: 11 reviews and 34 photos
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.
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