Shortly before reaching Chora after the climb from Yialos, the base of the ancient city’s fortification walls of the 6th century bc is visible in long runs of schist blocks beside the main road, to the left of where the kalderimi crosses its course. These walls originally encircled the whole hill above, suggesting that Archaic Ios was already a community of some size. It had an enviable location with a panoramic, natural acropolis, overlooking its harbour entrance, a protected civic centre in the saddle below, and an agriculturally productive hinterland a little way to its north. Today’s Chora climbs attractively up to the rocky peak of the old acropolis, covering the site of the ancient habitation. The broad saddle to the south of the hill (which now lies between the main road and the foot of the hill) has several wells which remain from the ancient settlement. It is likely that the agora and the principal public buildings of Ancient Ios were located in this well protected area, close to the sources of water. An exedra and other vestiges of Hellenistic and Roman buildings are visible just beside the Demarcheion or Town Hall to the south of the main road. The neoclassical building which houses the Town Hall, includes a small Archaeological Museum in its ground floor, consisting of two rooms of well-displayed material from the prehistoric period and two from the historic period (open daily 8.30–3, except Mon).
The centre-piece of the collection is the rich and varied material coming from the prehistoric site of Skarkos (see above). Many of the smaller items—schematic figurines, cups, seals and metal tools—are exhibited here, as well as several large pithoi—some for storage, some for burial: sufficient fragments were found to permit their complete restoration. They constitute some of the best examples of such objects from the 3rd millennium bc. Of particular interest also are the querns and grinders with visible vestiges of red pigment; and a series of oblong stamps bearing clear seal-impressions for clay. There are some fine Archaic carved stelai, probably of Parian workmanship—one of a young warrior who raises his hand to the front of his helmet as if to remove it. A curious, later stele found at Aghia Theodoti, is decorated with two snakes or vipers (one partly coiled) and an inscription between them which gives the date of a sacrifice from which it appears that the calendar of Ios included a month called the Homerea—named in honour of Homer, who was believed to be buried on the island.
Another pleasing Neoclassical building with porch and pediment, currently abandoned, looks onto the ‘agora’ area from the eastern end.
The most important churches of Chora are at the bot tom of the acropolis hill. Almost opposite the Town Hall across a stand of trees is Aghia Ekaterini, a compact 17th century church, which incorporates several column fragments in its cupola-drum and a piece of Ionic capital in the south wall. The church is believed to stand on the site of the temple of Pythian Apollo, the largest and most important of the island’s temples. Immediately to its north sits the long, low structure of the much earlier (possibly 14th century) church of Aghios Ioannis Prodromos, with a raised crossed barrel-vault. Abutting it to the north is the island’s cathedral of the Evangelismos, built in 1930 to replace an older church on the same spot dedicated to Aghios Nikolaos. 75m to the east of Aghia Ekaterini, is the domed structure of an abandoned and dilapidated church, known locally as the ‘Frangokklisia’, or ‘Latin Church’. In similar fashion to Aghia Ekaterini it has blind niches in the octagonal drum below the cupola and in general has the appearance of a typical Byzantine church of the 14th or 15th century, although it is hard to date more exactly in its present condition. Its name im plies that it was used principally for the Latin rite by the island’s small Catholic community; after this it appears that the church was left unadopted and abandoned.
Above the cathedral church of the Evangelismos the heart of the old chora is bisected east/west by the main ‘calle’ which links Kato and Epano Piatsa, two apologies for squares, between which the main commercial activity of the old town is found. Beside the upper square— ‘Epano Piatsa’—is the double church of Aghios Andreas and Aghia Kyriaki which incorporates ancient spolia in its interior. At the top of the habitation, just below the rocky crown of the hill is the church of the Panaghia Kremniotissa, with a shaded panoramic terrace opening out in front of its west door. From here a path leads up through the rocks towards the summit; the penultimate church, Aghios Giorgios, just below the top, has part of a marble tablet, densely engraved with early 4th century bc decrees, immured into the south corner of its façade. The summit, now occupied by the chapel of Aghios Nikolaos, was the principal look-out of the ancient acropolis. At the end of the 14th century the Venetian, Marco Crispo built a fortified enclosure here, using ancient foundations where possible; little of it now remains to be seen beyond short breaks of wall.
Ios Island is part of the Cyclades Island group