Chios is the fifth largest Greek island and known as the homeland of mastic – an aromatic resin gathered from the mastic tree. Prior to traveling there, I had my high expectations for the mastic gum, mastic liqueur and mastic jam. Luckily, these expectations were met! Not only that, I had the chance to explore three villages to see that Chios is more than just the mastic itself.
Built around the 10th century, this small village is approximately 25 km away from the center. Preserving the medieval appearance still today, it was my favorite village of the three, because the house decorations were just way too pretty!
In Pyrgi, the houses had been decorated with this technique called Xysta, similar to the Italian Sgraffito. Through hand-engraving, black geometrical shapes had been painted on white plaster, on the facades of every single house in the village. Leading to a very original look, Pyrgi is now also called as “The Painted Village”. Moreover, the stone-paved streets and sun-dried tomatoes hanging from the balconies make the perfect match with the painted houses.
Mesta is another medieval town in Chios, dating back to the Byzantium times. Located 35 km away from the center of the island, this village is famous for the stone houses in very tiny streets.
With streets so narrow and pentagonal, Mesta is like a labyrinth. And with the stone based architecture, it’s also like a castle. Given these, the village has been definitely built for protection, possibly against the pirate raids.
While this medieval atmosphere is still in existence, you can now also have lunch, drink frappe or go for souvenir shopping in this pretty town.
Located approximately 20 km away from the center, Armolia is also a medieval town but it actually has been rebuilt. While the historical architecture may not be so strongly present there – as in Mesta or Pyrgi -, Armolia also has something special to offer.
This town is specifically known for ceramic pottery and you will encounter many small workshops if you walk around just a little. You can watch artisans working and also buy ceramic pots, jars and vases with beautiful motifs from these shops. Moreover, this small town has a few churches that you can stop by.
To be honest, I was not expecting so much prettiness and historicity from Chios. I was truly amazed as these villages turned out to be so unique on their own. And, there is even more to do and see in this pristine island – coming soon in another post!
Happy holidays in Greece!