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Chios town and the Kampos area
The setting of the city of Chios, between the island’s eastern shore and the limestone rockfaces of the mountains that rise steeply to between 700 and 800m behind, is dramatic—and must have been particularly beautiful in Antiquity. The wide, semicircular port looked straight into the heartland of Asia Minor, 5 nautical miles away, across a mostly tranquil stretch of sea. The western hills provided ample fresh water in springs which are still used today (e.g at Panaghia Voithias), while the lower hills to north and south supplied the city with the building materials it needed—the beautiful pink and blue-grey, decorative marble, Marmor Chium, known later as ‘Portasanta’, which came from the hill-top quarries just to the northwest of the city-centre at ‘Latomi’ (see pp. 34–35), and the orange and red, ‘poros’ limestones from near Thymiana to the south of the city. Chios must have been one of the few cities in the Ancient world whose walls were of coloured stone. Pliny relates how Cicero was shown this with pride by the people of Chios, but that their distinguished visitor remained stoically unimpressed (Nat. Hist., XXXVI, 5. 46). The city’s ‘garden’—the fertile, well-watered plain, still referred to today as ‘Kampos’ (‘meadow’)—extended immediately to the south along the coast; indeed the whole southeast corner of the island was a gentle landscape of well-watered valleys, ideal for the cultivation of olives and vines which produced some of the most renowned wines of the Ancient Greek world.
Chios Island is part of the Northern Aegean Island group
Chios town and the Kampos area, general information