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Chios - Central Chios and Nea Moni - Avgonyma and Anavatos

Avgonyma and Anavatos

One kilometre after the turning for Aghii Pateras, the main road reaches the watershed and begins to descend the western slopes of the island through a wild area, densely treed with pine. The first habitation is encountered at Avgonyma (16km from Chios) which crowns the spur of a hill with wide views out to sea and profits from a shallow and fertile plateau for cultivation. The cuboid houses of varying hue and dimensions give the village the appearance of a study by Cezanne. There was a settlement here in Antiquity; today the village, grouped around an open stone-paved square, shows its Genoese origins of the 15th century in the features of its houses— window-frames, machicolations, buttresses, and general style of masonry. It is a fine architectural ensemble; but it is outshone in setting and atmosphere, by its remarkable neighbour, * Anavatos—one of the most dramatically sited villages in the Aegean and, like Olympos on Karpathos, one of the most isolated up until the recent advent of asphalt roads. The 4km detour to the north of the main road from Avgonyma is of great beauty, winding through mature pine forest and clearings which are rich in wild flowers. Only at the very last moment is the visitor confronted by a vision of the magnificent and inaccessible site of the village, occupying the north face of a limestone precipice, whose south and west sides plummet almost vertically into a gorge.

The name ‘Anavatos’ is cognate with the Greek verb ‘αναβαίνειν’, ‘to climb’ or ‘scale’. The natural acropolis of the summit has a number of advantages which may explain its improbable choice as a place of settlement: apart from formidable natural defences, a deep, sinuous gorge to the west gave direct and quick access to the bay of Elinda which cuts into the central part of the west coast—the stretch most heavily fortified by the Genoese with watch-towers for protection against piracy. Anavatos and Avgonyma are also the closest points to Chios town that survey the western approaches to the island; they were vital links therefore in the defence of the island as a whole. An unverifiable local tradition holds that Anavatos was founded by the wood-cutters and timber-men brought to Chios to make scaffolding for the construction of Nea Moni, implying settlement as early as the 11th century; it must then later have been further fortified to form part of the Genoese system of defences. It appears to have been a flourishing community at the time of the massacres of 1822 which abruptly terminated its existence and gave rise to the abandonment of the site. The inhabitants, spurred by a combination of desperation and pride, are said to have thrown themselves over the western cliff rather than yield to capture by their Turkish assailants. It is a measure of the implacable fury of the Turks that they should have pursued their punitive cause so deep into the interior of the island. A shadow still hangs over the village.

The tiers of uninhabited houses, built in un-rendered stone, are perfectly camouflaged against the limestone escarpments; they have the form of towers, with the minimum necessary perforations for windows, which are only rarely embellished with a small relieving arch above the frame. The stepped streets lead up to the fortress at the summit, where a curtain wall—part constructed, part natural—encloses an area dominated by the ruins of a double-nave church (with vestiges of late painting in the apse). This design of such a building with two parallel naves, can often arise from the contemporaneous need for the celebration of both the Latin and Orthodox rites, suggesting a latterly mixed community here of Genoese and local Greeks.

 

Chios Island is part of the Northern Aegean Island group
Central Chios and Nea Moni. Avgonyma and Anavatos.


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access

Chios Island, Greece.

By air: Domestic flights from Athens, three times daily with Olympic Air and twice daily with Aegean Airlines, serve Chios throughout the year. Five days a week there are Olympic Air connections with Thessaloniki, including a twice weekly local, Eastern Aegean route, from Thessaloniki to Rhodes , via Lemnos, Mytilini and (once a week only) Samos . The airport is 3km from the centre of Chios town.
By boat: The principal route—Piraeus, Chios, Mytilini— is served by Hellenic Seaways, with a daily 12.30 departure from Piraeus, arriving Chios at 7pm, continuing to Mytilini, and returning to Piraeus overnight. NEL Lines run three times weekly along the route from/to Samos to the south, and Mytilini, Lemnos, and Kavala, to the north. Smaller ferry-boats connect Chios with Psará (5 times weekly), and Oinousses (6 times weekly). Crossings to Turkey (Çeşme) run almost daily during the summer season (Easter–mid-October); thereafter much more infrequently.

Chios Travel Guide

beaches

Chios Island, Greece.

 

Lithi Beach

Emboreios Mavros Gialos

Chios Travel Guide

eating

Chios Island, Greece.

Delightful, welcoming and with fresh, imaginative dishes and good bourekakia (lightly filled and fried filo-pastry rolls), is the (recently much enlarged) taverna, Roussikó, in Thymianá (just east of the main church in the village).
In the main town of Chios: both "Byzantinio" and "Elleniki Kouzina", on opposite sides of the crossing of Ralli and Roïdou Streets between the port and the public gardens, are favoured by locals for their clean environment, inexpensive home-cooking and well-prepared, workaday food; no frills and no atmosphere, just simple food.
Iakovou (evenings only), on Aghios Giorgios Street in the Kastro, has more atmosphere and offers a number of Asia Minor dishes.
Around the island: Lefteris at Pandoukiós (just south of Langada on the northeast coast), Tria Adelphia on Lithí Beach (central west Chios) and the taverna, Limani Meston in Liménas (southwest Chios), all offer excellent, fresh fishdishes in pleasant settings by the shore; while Markellos at Pitiós is well-known for meat and vegetable dishes of local cuisine; and Pheragides offers mezes in the delightful setting of a plane-shaded plateia at Kardámyla in northeastern Chios.
The cliffs and rocky coasts of Chios are home to an aromatic samphire ("kritamo") which is a distinctive element of its salads—always worth asking for, if it has not already been included in the mixture. Chios also has a tradition of excellence in oriental pastries; the quality of the baklava and other sweets made by the Amandier Patisserie in Livanou Street (south side of port) is worthy of any Ottoman pastry-chef.

Chios Travel Guide

further reading

Chios Island, Greece.

For social history of the important families of Chios and for the events of 1821/2 the following site contains much valuable information: www. christopherlong.co.uk/pub/ chiosinfo.html

Chios Travel Guide

lodging

Chios Island, Greece.

A number of the nicest places to stay on Chios are in Kampos, to the south of the main town, in the elegant stone villas which are so characteristic of the area. Two, that are close to one another, and run by different members of the same family, are particularly recommended:
-Perivoli (Argenti Street, T. 22710 31513, fax 32042, www.perivolihotel. gr), and -Perleas (Vitiadou Street, T. 22710 32217, fax 32364, www.perleas.gr). Both offer simple accommodation and attentive hospitality, moderately priced, in elegant villas with gardens. Although signposted, neither is easy to find: if you call ahead, you will be piloted, or collected. There is public transport to this area, but a rental vehicle is advised. In the centre of town, at the south end of the port, is the Hotel Kyma in a stone-built mansion looking onto the sea (T. 22710 44500, fax 44600, email: kyma@chi. forthnet.gr); the antiquity of the plumbing and bedroom furniture are more than compensated for by the friendliness and attentive hospitality of the owners and by the charm of the building.
A different experience is offered by Spilia Xenonas at Kardámyla above the northeast coast, 23km from the port (T. 22720 22933, fax 22823, www. spilia-chios.gr). This is a group of small, carefully restored, characteristic, stone cottages at the top of the village, with views towards the sea in the distance: a good homemade breakfast is provided. Wooden signposts guide you up to the cottages on steep stone paths through the village; any car will need to be left some distance below.

Chios Travel Guide

museums

Chios Island, Greece.

Archaeological Museum
Byzantine Museum
Folklore Museum

Chios Travel Guide

practical info

Chios Island, Greece.

821 00/02 & 822 00 Chios: area 841 sq. km; perimeter 213km; resident population 51,060; max. altitude 1,297m. Port Authority: T. 22710 44433. Travel and information: Municipal Tourist Office, T. 22710 44389, www.chiosonline.gr

Chios Travel Guide

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