CHIOS



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Chios - Chios town and the Kampos area - The Kastro

The Kastro

The Fortress or Kastro of Chios, which occupies a roughly rectangular area (c. 600m x 250m) to the north of the port, was surrounded by a moat filled with water and accessible only by means of a wooden drawbridge. The crescent shaped southeast wall which formed the northern boundary of the port and against whose wharfs the Genoese maritime fleet would have tied up, lies now a little way inland: it is the least well preserved section, by comparison with the north, east and west walls which stand intact and still possess their seven fine bastions. On this site there was no pre-existing stronghold: the Byzantine fortress appears to have stood some distance inland on higher ground. These fortifications are therefore principally Genoese, begun in the 1320s by the Zaccaria overlords and given new impetus in the early 1400s by the Giustiniani; only the northern bastion (the largest of all, and known as the ‘Torrione Zeno’) was modified and enlarged by the Venetians in 1694/5 with more modern defensive technology, so as to include emplacements for their cannon—some fine examples of which can be seen in the courtyard of the city’s Byzantine Museum opposite the Public Garden.
   The main gate, or ‘Porta Maggiore’, has been given a late 17th century outer facing by the Venetians during their brief stay, surmounted by a (partially erased) inscription recording Doge Silvestro Valier; behind it is the more functional 14th century Genoese gateway leading through the thickness of the walls. It is instructive to walk along the top of the enceinte, most of which is accessible, though divided by a breach for the street in the western corner. The northwestern sector is bisected by the massive 14th century central bastion bearing an eroded, triple escutcheon in marble of the Giustiniani family. To either side of the tower, on the inside of the walls, the clustered cupolas of two sets of Ottoman baths can be seen: these were in existence in the mid 18th century when Richard Chandler, Fellow of Magdalen College, Oxford, and member of the Dilettanti Society, sampled their pleasures on a visit to Chios in 1765; he later described the pummelling and contortions he received at the hands of the masseur of the hamam, whose ‘feats ‘¦ cannot easily be described, and are hardly credible’. The sea-wall of the castle is wellpreserved and has remained unmodified from when it was built in the 14th century; its simple masonry and construction is of a different order of building from the meticulous and aristocratic structures of the Knights of St John on Kos and on Rhodes . Set-back to the south and a little inside, the round stack of the Turkish watch-tower rises above the level of the surrounding buildings.
   The interior of the Kastro, which is still inhabited and lively, has preserved something of its former Levantine feel, with a number of the old lath-and-plaster housefronts and projecting wooden balconies still to be seen along Aghios Giorgios Frouriou Street. This is the main axial street of the Kastro, running from the main gate to the church of Aghios Giorgios. At its southern end, inside the gate and to the west side, is the Ottoman cemetery, with most of its gravestones—inscribed and surmounted with a carved turban or fez—remaining well-preserved and intact. Amongst them (towards the back) it is a surprise to find the sarcophagus, decorated with flower-motif, of Kara Ali Pasha, the perpetrator of the Massacre of Chios of 1822. A little further north, set at an angle to all the other buildings is the four-square Bayrakli Mosque, dating from the late 18th century and now deprived of its porch and minaret; the spacious prayer-hall, surmounted by a shallow dome sitting on an interesting play of squinches, is in a state of abandon although the building has recently been re-roofed. Half-way down the length of the street, on the north side is the church of Aghios Giorgios Frouriou, whose orientation and proportions betray its origins also as a converted mosque. It sits in a courtyard which was once the kulliye (‘religious complex’) of the mosque: on its northern side, under a plane-tree, is the former sebil or fountain—a fascinating assemblage of spolia which would originally have channelled the water pulled up from a well, into an ancient sarcophagus standing on two column-stumps and decorated with Ottoman designs in low relief, and thence into a stone washing-area for those preparing for prayer in the mosque.

 

Chios Island is part of the Northern Aegean Island group
Chios town and the Kampos area. The Kastro.


Random information you might what to know about Chios Island
The Olimpi cave and Ancient Phanai
Nea Moni of Chios

 

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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