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Thucydides (VIII. 24) refers to ‘Boliskos’, which must be the ancient city on this site: although little is to be seen today of an ancient precursor, it would be unusual if such a site— with its natural harbour, an acropolis hill, a fertile plain for cultivation, a good supply of water, and its proximity to the island of Psyra (Psara)—had not attracted settlement in Antiquity. The town was the home of the Homeridai, a clan that claimed descent from Homer, whose name had always been associated with the island. The acropolis hill is now occupied by a fine Genoese castle, the harbour, Limnia (1.5km from the town), still functions, and the watercourses have, until recently, fed a series of watermills of varying age, in the stretch between Volissos and Managros Bay. (The mills are visitable by taking a pleasant route by foot, signed ‘Managros’, from below the eastern side of Volissos; this is one of the richest areas on the island for the display of wildflowers in the spring). What distinguishes Volissos from many other Chiot villages is the variety of styles of architecture: in a short distance there are simple neoclassical residences, Ottoman-style houses with overhanging wooden balconies, and mediaeval stone houses; the latter predominate increasingly as one climbs up towards the kastro. The castle was a key element in the late 14th century fortification of the island undertaken by the Genoese, and, though ruined, has been little modified through time. The circuit of walls with six round, irregularly placed, corner bastions, encloses churches, cisterns and other buildings in a large, trapezoid area. The fortress tower, or ‘keep’, in the southwest corner has survived in relatively good condition. The tradition that the castle was built by Belisarius in the 6th century is almost certainly legend; but the remarkable 11th century historian and imperial princess, Anna Comnena, mentions Volissos and its castle in her Alexiad. What she was referring to was probably demolished by the Genoese builders when they began the construction of the existing fort.
From the harbour of Limnia a road follows the coast west to the bay and monastery of Aghia Markella (4.5km)—site of the martyrdom of the young virgin saint of the (?)16th century (there is much ambiguity about the dates of her life) from Volissos whose feast day, 22 July, is the most widely celebrated in the island’s religious calendar. A simple cross at the water’s edge marks the point—at the far end of the beach—where the saint died reputedly at the hands of her possessed father: two springs of therapeutic water rise at the site, whose high mineral content has coloured the rock a deep red—symbolic of the blood of her martyrdom.
Chios Island is part of the Northern Aegean Island group
The NW of the Island. Volissos.