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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