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Island of Chios
 
     
One of the loveliest parts of Chios lies just a stones throw from the capital village. This is the Campos with its impressive villas of the Chiot aristocracy (mainly the maritime) of the 19th and 20th centuries, all built of deep red and buff stone, with majestic monumental courtyard doors and girt by high walls inside which spreads a little private paradise with verdant citrus trees - bitter orange, lemon, mandarin, orange - , vines, myriads of flowers, cisterns, foundains and age-old wells. In April in particular, to wander through the narrow lanes in the flower-filled Kampos is like a dream you hope will never end.
 
 
 
 
     
  Chios was one of the wealthiest and mightiest city-states in ancient Greece, with the best fighting fleet in the Aegean. This is why it was never conquered by the Persianseven though it supported the revolt of the Ionian cities in 499 BC and suffered widespread destruction at the hands of the Persians after the Greeks defeat in the naval battle at Lade in 479 BC. Chios was always an apple of discord between the Spartans and the Athenians, but evidently profited from every alliance. The historic phrase on the Chians terms of alliance reveals succintly that the Chians were model diplomats for the rest of the ancient Greeks.
The first inhabitants of Chios are said to have been Pelasgians from Thessaly, who came to the island around 1600 BC, bringing with them the cult of the Thessalian god Zeus Pelinaios. They were later joined by Karians and Lelegians from the neighbouring shores of Asia Minor. The Chians were influenced directly by the culture of the Ionian cities and were possibly the first democratic citizens in the Aegean since they applied democratic regulations in their regime from the 6th century BC, the period in which Solon was promoting his democratic reforms in Athens.
A fertile island with rich agricultural production (mastic and wine) and thriving trade thanks to its fleet, Chios was an important cultural centre in Antiquity. Archaic Chios was renowned for its sculptors, such as Melas, Archermos, Mikiades, Boupalos and Athenis, who created the wonderful female statues, the korai, with elegant draped garments and enigmatic smile, which are undoubtely a landmark in Archaic Greek art.
In 1346 Chios became a possession of the Genoese, who remained until 1566, when the Ottoman Admiral Piali Pasha expelled them and captured the island. It subsequently enjoyed a degree of autonomy granted by Sultan Selim II because of the mastic crop. However, when the Chiots insurrected in 1822, incited by the Samiots, the Turks respected none of the privilleges and on 30 March 1822 literally razed the island to the ground, slaying 30,000 Chiots and selling 40,000 into slavery. The Massacre of Chios shocked the entire civilized world. It inspired Victor Hugo to write his poem The child of Chios and Eugene Delacroiz to paint his famous picture The Massacre of Chios. Two months after the horrendous crime, on 11 June 1822, the butcher of Chios, Admiral Kara Alis, was burnt alive together with his flagship, which was set alight in the harbour of Chios by the Greek sea captain Konstantinos Kanaris.
Chios and mastic are two words that are virtually synonymous. Chiot mastic is the most popular chewing-gum in the Mediterranean and the aromatic liqueur masticha was once the favourite drink throughout the Ottoman Empire. The mastic trees (Pistacia lentiscus) have been cultivated since AD 50 solely and exclusively on Chios. Every summer the precious crystals of mastic are collected from vertical incision cut in their bark. Mastic can be found all over Chios, raw or processed into the well-known chewing-gum made the local co-operative of mastic-producers, ELMA.
 
     
 
 
 
 
     
  The most impressive Medieval village on Chios is Anavatos, which many have dubbed the Mystras of the Aegean. Anavatos is a rare monument of Medieval defensive architecture, with its small stone-built houses slinging to the rock face, the imposing landscape and the well-preserved Medieval architecture presenting a unique and awe-inspiring picture. Only a handful of old men now live in Anavatos, which never recovered from the tragedy of 1822, when all the villigers were massacred by the Turks or flung themselves into the abyss to avoid captivity and enslavement.
About 20 villages located in southern Chios are involved with cultivating the mastic trees. These Mastichochoria (i.e. mastic- producing villages) were created when Chios was in the hands of the Genoese Giustiniani family and the Mahona company, in 1346. The Genoese built the villages so that the mastic-producers could live in safety, protected from the menace of rapacious pirates. None of the villages is visible from the sea and all are built so that the walls of the outermost row of houses form a defensive wall with only one or two well-controlled entrances. The Mastichochoria-kastrochoria (forified villages or burgs) are typical monuments of Medieval own-planning. Their inhabitants were spared in the Massacre of Chios because the sultans wives were very fond of chewing mastic.
Without doubt the most picturesque and outstanding of the Mastichochoria are Pyrgi and Mesta. In Pyrgi, apart from the singular Medieval town plan, all the house facades are decorated with xesta designs (white-grey geometric motifs created by scraping away the damp plaster), which endow the village with a fairytale aspect. Mesta is one of the best preserved Medieval settlements in Greece, which state it owes largely to the interventions of the significant 20th-century architect Aris Konstantinidis. A walk through the narrow streets of Mesta is a truly unforgettable experience, a trip back into the Greek Middle Ages.
The most notable of the many historic monasteries on Chios and one of the most important monasteries in Greece, is the Nea Moni. Founded in 1024 by the Emperor of Byzantium Constantine IX Monomachos, it was always a large and wealthy foundation. Indeed, its premices are still reminiscent of a small village. The most precious monument in the monastery is inside the katholikon, which is dedicated to the Virgin; namely the remarkable mosaics on the walls and in the conches. These works by first-rank artists from Constantinople are included among the finest Byzantine mosaics in the world.
Timely warning of the danger of piratical raids on Chios was ensured from the vigles (lookout towers) established by the Genoese, continuing the system of the ancient phryktoria. The Latin overlords had built small stone towers on about 50 hilltopswith unimpeded view over the Aegean sea, where salaried watchmen (viglatores)lit bonfires to warn of susppicious ships approaching the island. The vigles had visual contact with each other, as well as with the towers in the villages, so that the Chiots learnt quickly of imminent attack and had time to lock and bar themselves into their kastrochoria. Most of the surviving vigles are in southern Chios and the best-preserved are those at Trachili, Elinta, Livadi Meston and Tigani.
 
     
  Inousses

Oinousses are nine small islets close to Chios (Inousses is the name of the largest and only inhabited one), famed for the sea captains and ship-owners who originated from there (about 30% of Greek ship-owners hail from Inousses). Indeed it is said that the magnates of Inouses have given generous economic support to their home island to prevent it degenerating into an ugly tourist resort. The basic reasons for making an excursion to Inousses are its truly exotic sandy beaches and its magnificent Neoclassical captains mansions, that give this coastal settlement a handsome aspect.
 
   
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