CHIOS



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Chios - The NW of the Island - The West Coast to Aghio Gala

The West Coast to Aghio Gala

The main road which heads northwest from Volissos winds through a wide sandstone landscape different in vegetation from elsewhere on the island: the villages, set athwart the ravines of mountain torrents, are open and panoramic, with the curious exception of Melanios, which is huddled out of sight in a seemingly subterranean dip, at the western tip of the island. Twenty two kilometres from Volissos, the road turns into the steep valley of Aghio Gala, the site of the earliest human habitation on the island so far discovered. The village itself is built high up along the ridge of a projecting spur, with clear views to Psara across a famously windy stretch of water: the rock beneath is perforated with a network of deep caves, entered from the cliff of the gorge above the watercourse below. It is here that human settlers from as early as 6000 bc have left artefacts relating to their habitation or worship; the tiny rectangular plaque of clay, modelled and incised in the form of a man’s face—which constitutes the earliest representational find in the Chios Archaeological Museum—was found here. The combination of shelter, security and numinousness afforded by the cave has meant that cult has continued here intermittently from the Neolithic Age, into historic antiquity—from Archaic through to Roman—and on into the Christian era. Today it is the Christian buildings which are visible; the cave entrance is now closed by the 14th century church of the Panaghia Aghiogalousena (‘Virgin of the Sacred Milk’) whose apse and elongated cupola are in the typical style of late mediaeval Chios. (Generally kept locked, outside July & Aug. Key should be obtained from the guardian who lives in the square of the village above.) The church was restored early in the last century, when the Lindosware and ‘Willow pattern’ ceramic plates were immured in its exterior: the principal interest of the interior is the intricately carved iconostasis and the one remaining area of painting in the apse figuring the Virgin ‘platytera’ (with open arms). Around the church are grouped the abandoned hermitage buildings, dating probably from the 17th century. Standing entirely within the cave, reached through the church of the Panaghia, is the contemporaneous chapel of St Anne, with wall-paintings in deteriorating condition. The cave penetrates for 200m into the rock, through a series of linked chambers with active stalagmite and stalactite formation: it is probably the milky appearance of the calciferous water which moistens the upper surface of the stalactites that has given rise to the epithet of the Virgin here.
   The houses at the southern extremity of the village of Aghio Gala, beyond the rudimentary plateia, are clustered within the walls of what was obviously a tiny fortress. The steps which lead down from here to the cave and the churches pass by the ancient church of Aghios Thalelaios—a simple, early mediaeval, vaulted stone structure which incorporates in its walls a number of blocks and pieces of stone from an earlier construction. Its simple interior contains a finely-carved, early 18th century oak-wood iconostasis, which must be one of the oldest examples of this local style and craft on the island. The wall-paintings, which probably date from the 16th century, are much less well-preserved and have suffered from partial defacing (especially the eyes) during the tourkokratia: the scenes of the Life of Christ on the north side of the vault are the best preserved. Both a footpath from the valley below, and a track from a point on the main road 500m east of the village, lead southeast to the deserted hamlet of Aghios Ioannis (30 mins/2km). The homonymous church, which lies below the cluster of deserted, darkstoned houses, also has an early carved wooden iconostasis, in similar local style to that in Aghios Thalelaios.

 

Chios Island is part of the Northern Aegean Island group
The NW of the Island. The West Coast to Aghio Gala.


Random information you might what to know about Chios Island
Portasanta marble-quarries
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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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