Chios is a popular summer resort among the Greeks, but it does not have
too many foreign tourists. As a consequence, you get a taste of real Greece
here, and if you decide to explore the island on your own, you'll find some
amazing little villages and beaches that seem totally untouched.
The people on Chios live off tourism to a certain extent, but it is not their major source of income. One of the island's most important resources is mastic, from which you make chewing gum for example, and others live off fishing, farming or working on ships.
Chios is the traditional seafarer's island , especially captains, a famous song the of the Greek composer George Zambetas "to naftaki" is saying, "take to your ship an engineer from Mytilene and a captain from Chios".! When the Greek shipping had 100% Greek crews, a large part of those were mainly islanders and many of them were from the island of Chios. In the small island of Oinousses near to Chios is one of the most famous Captain schools of Greece.
There are several citations about Chios people, like the one that says wherever you find Chios men, they always go in pairs. This derives from true events during the time of the Ottoman rule when the turks were forcing the Greeks to get them on their shoulder when they met, but the Chios men they used the trick to go always together and when they saw a Turk the one of them was taking the other in his shoulder so the Turks could not force them to this humiliation.
According to some, this is where Homer was born and lived sometime around the 8th century BC. Of course, there are many more islands that claim the same, and since we don't even know if he was an actual person, the speculating is a bit in vain.
The name of the island may come from the Greek word for snow, (chioni),
since the island's patron god Poseidon was born under snowfall.
During ancient years the island was quite wealthy because of its mastic and wine, and this was also the first place in Greece where they had slavery. Chios fought alongside Athens against the Persians in the 5th century BC, and was later to be ruled by Macedonians, Romans, Venetians and Turks.
It was during the Turkish rule the island suffered one of the worst massacres in Greece. Because the island had been forced to revolt, the Turks punished it by setting an example: killing 30 000 and enslaving the rest. This brutal destruction of the island touched many European personalities of the literature and art such as Victor Hugo, Eugene Delacroix, who painted the famous painting of the massacre of Chios that is now in the Louvre museum in Paris.
The island took part in the war of independence that begun in 1821, and it was to become a part of Greece in 1912.
What to see
There is a stone on
the island called Homer's stone (Petra Omirou), where the poet sat and worked
according to those that believe he was from here.
Agia Markella is a monastery open to visitors, and is located outside the village Volissos. The saint is celebrated on July 22nd.
Note: if you want to visit the monasteries, make sure you are dressed properly: long skirt and covered shoulders for women, long trousers for men.
The so called Mastikochoria are in the area where the mastic tree grows. It has a special kind of sap that is used in making chewing gum, toothpaste and local sweets. Here there is also a 15th century castle, some old churches and the ruins of an ancient temple to Athena.
What to do
: On Chios you can enjoy various watersports. To really appreciate the island, you should try to explore the island a bit, since it has some really nice places not to be missed.
The most popular beach is probably Karfas, but there are also well developed beaches around Chios town. For more peace and quiet, you can go to the beach Kato Fana, for example, but it is also a good idea to try to find your own place by renting a vehicle and drive around.
:Most bars and discos are in Chios town and Karfas. The nightlife is quite well developed, and you can enjoy all sorts of music and styles.
There are many nice places in Chios town as well as in the villages. A special kind of blue cheese is made on the island called "kopanisti" and then there is of course various sweets made out of mastic.
:You'll find various souvenirs of the island, but it is recommended that you take some mastic with you home. You can also buy ceramics and local wine.
There are buses and taxis on the island, as well as several car rentals. It is a very good idea to rent a vehicle here since the island is very interesting and worth exploring.
Most people choose to fly to Athens and then to take a flight to Chios, or take the ferries to Chios. The island also has boat connections with islands like Lesbos, Kos and Rhodes, as well as with Thessaloniki on the mainland.
Facts about Chios
Size: 850 km2
International code: 0030
Population: about 50000
Local code: 22710
Cash machine ATM: Yes
Police: 44423, 44428
Highest Mountain: Marathovouno
Internet cafes : yes
Bus company: 22079, 27507
Telephone company (OTE):
Price rate: Average
Tourist Police: 44427