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Chios - Southern Chios and the Mastic Villages - Mesta

Mesta

Mesta, which lies 3.7km northwest of Olimpi, is linked by a pleasant, well-signed footpath which crosses the low hills that separate the two villages; it affords glimpses in the Spring of many wild orchids: Orchis anatolica, as well as the much rarer Ophrys fleischmanii.
   Mesta is perhaps the most mediaeval in aspect of the Mastic Villages and conserves clearly the pentagonal shape of its original, 14th century plan. The circuit of walls and gates are well-preserved; so too are the fine circular bastions, especially that of the northeastern corner. The habitation is densely packed and low, and the streets are narrow and labyrinthine, giving the village an airless feel—as if constantly awaiting a siege. Many of the alleys pass under buildings and through passageways; this linked each building to the next, so that the network of contiguous roofs which it created allowed free movement at the level of the tops of the buildings and the surrounding walls in times of attack and danger. Everything revolves around the large central square, dominated by the disproportionate size of the church of the Taxiarches at its centre; it stands on the site of the original Genoese tower, which was demolished when the church was erected in 1868. A small surviving section of the mediaeval tower’s walls is visible below the old belfry to the west. Beside the doors of the west entrance of the church, a fragment of ancient stone clearly inscribed with a decree has been immured in the wall. The surviving 14th century churches stand to the northeast and southeast of the square; only Aghios Giorgios and Aghios Panteleimon (northeast) preserve some late painting in the interior, in poor condition.
   The former old church of the Taxiarches, which lies northwest of the central square just inside the northern perimeter wall, presents an interesting assemblage of buildings. Entered through an ornate gateway in the rich red stone of Thymiana, is a small enclosure once occupied by monastic buildings. At the centre was a vaulted, single-aisled, basilica church; in 1794 the church was enlarged by the addition of a parecclesion to the north, creating a much wider interior space which is now divided by a low arcade supported on columns and capitals. The fine carved iconostasis was added a little later in 1883.
   The shallow fertile valley to the west of Mesta—sown with isolated stone churches, mostly of the 18th century and sited variously beside a well, on an eminence or by a stand of mastic trees—provides a pleasant walk among groves of olive and fruit trees down to the shore at Merikounta Bay. At the top of the rise 600m north of Mesta, a track branches left for Skouria and the Livadi­ou watchtower, which dominates and protects the bay of Mesta and its harbour of Limenas. The 14th century cylindrical greystone tower still conserves some of its crenellations and machicolations at the rim: the only access—a stone framed window—is a good 7m above ground level.

 

Chios Island is part of the Northern Aegean Island group
Southern Chios and the Mastic Villages. Mesta.


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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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