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Chios - Southern Chios and the Mastic Villages - Olympi

Olympi

West of Pyrgi­ and spread low in the floor of a wide valley is the quieter village of Olympi (31km from Chios; 7.5km west of Pyrgi), which like Pyrgi­ was laid out in its present form in the 14th century by the Genoese. There is no access into its squat, fortress-like form from the south and east sides; the main entrance is once again in the north walls, by way of a monumental gateway which preserves its original stone frame. From here the cobbled street leads under a passage decorated with xysta to the central square, where the rectangular fortress-tower has survived to a substantial height. Even though it is the centre of the settlement, there is deliberately no axial access to it. To the north of the tower are the churches of Aghia Paraskevi­ and of the Taxiarches—simple, low and roofed with schist tiles. The former, which appears to be built over a burial site or ossuary, may predate the Genoese rebuilding of the town: the date of 1742 inscribed over the door refers to a later restoration of the church which included the addition of the carved wooden iconostasis.

Detour 3:

Ancient Phanai and Olimpi Cave

A short distance east of Olimpi, a road branches south towards the coast, and leads after 5.5km to Olimpi Cave (open daily, except Mon, May 11–5; June–Oct 10–8). Discovered as recently as 1985, this is a small cave between 60 and 70m in depth at certain points, with particularly fine ‘filegree’ stalactite and stalagmite formations (still actively forming) of a prevailing, yellowy-reddish hue. A small natural entrance lets sunlight in from above. The cave is estimated to be approximately 150 million years old. A kilometre below, the road ends at the church of the Aghia Dinami, beside a ruined mediaeval watchtower overlooking a protected inlet of turquoise water.
   At a junction along the same road and approximately mid-way between Olimpi and the Cave (approximately 3km from each), a track leads off, almost parallel and slightly to the east, to Phana, the site of Ancient Phanai (also accessible by 5.5km of partially metalled road, directly from Pyrgi­). As the track begins to approach the shore, a spring-house to the left which incorporates some finely-drafted pieces of classical masonry already gives an intimation of an ancient presence in the area. The archaeological site, first systematically explored by the British School of Archaeology and currently still under excavation, is 100m further on beside the chapel of Aghios Theodoros (marked on some maps as ‘Aghia Markella’) which is built over site of the temple of Apollo Phanaios. This was primarily a place of cult, not an inhabited settlement; what is to be seen at the site gives little sense of the size, importance and longevity of the sanctuary, where finds from the Geometric period attest the worship of Apollo from as early as the 9th century bc. The name ‘Phanai’, cognate with 'φαίνειν' (‘to appear’), suggests that the origin of the cult was a divine epiphany of some sort. As so often, there are many successive strata to the site. The peribolos of the earliest Geometric sanctuary (1), of which vestiges survive, was first replaced by an early 6th century bc, Archaic (2) perimeter wall constructed in irregular blocks of limestone. Not long after, in the later 6th century bc, it was rebuilt in a large, regular, interlocking style of masonry (3), a section of which can be seen some way in front and below the west of the modern church, to the side of the track as it climbs up from the shore. The foundations and the corner of the platform of the temple from this period can be seen to the northeast of the church. (The tiny silver-gilt figurine of a helmeted warrior in the Archaeological Museum, which was found here, relates to this period, as do the many fine 6th century bc architectural fragments displayed in the collection.) This Archaic temple was perhaps destroyed in the aftermath of the unsuccessful Ionian revolt of 494 bc, and rebuilt at least once (4) in the late 5th or early 4th century bc. It is from this period that the beautiful masonry, visible to the south and east of the church by the road, dates. These are mostly blocks in a bluish-grey limestone with rustication and precise double-drafting at the edges. A single column base, in a different white marble, lies nearby, with a design of concentric horizontal flutes or channels similar to that found at the temple of Hera on Samos . Finally, an Early Christian church (5), the foundations of whose apse are visible to the east of the present church, was constructed here from the stones of the temple. The story ends somewhat bathetically with the modern chapel (6) of Aghios Theodoros, whose apse conserves a small, carved capital as its altar table. The shoreline has in all probability receded; the pagan temple would have stood on a high terraced platform, directly above the water of a deeper inlet of the sea, from which flights of steps (visible in places) would have given access to the sanctuary. The site is particularly peaceful and atmospheric in the evening light. In May the dunes of the beach are home to the Holy Orchid, Orchis sancta. Amongst the birds that frequent the undisturbed, mixed habitats here are the Little Bittern, Water Rail, and—easier to spot, though elusive—the Kingfisher. (End of detour.)

 

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


Random information you might what to know about Chios Island
Archaeolgical Museum of Chios
Mastic tree and products

 

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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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