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Aug 11
Last Updated on 02 November 2012

Anavatos

Anavatos is a byzantine tower-village in the center of Chios. Due to its location on a large granite rock at the end of a cliff, the ancient city towers majestically above the surrounding area.

Although it is a deserted village, it has still preserved its history, which is often sensed by the visitor when wandering through its stone-paved streets. The town has often been associated with the Greek War of Independence in 1821 and the massacres of 1822, who represent an important part in history of the island.

The village of Anavatos got its name originally from the Greek word "anaveno", which means "I climb". For such a difficult to reach village perched on top of a cliff, this name definitely fits. The village is built on a rocky elevation with steep sides and sheer cliffs on the South and West, so that it can only be approached from the North. This natural defenses make it probable that the village was originally founded in this site for security reasons to control the west cast during the period of piracy.

Another version, and probably a truer rendition of the founding of this village is the story told by the local people here. Tradition has it that the first settlers were the woodcutters who came to build the famous New Covent Monastery at the request of the ruler Constantine the Monomahos of Constantinople. In exchange they requested him to give them this land to settle a village. The ruler was more than happy to oblige and he even gave monetary aid for the building of their new village. The people worked hard and finally they founded the new city of Anavatos.

However, pirate raids were to ravish the village many times, but still the people rebuilt it again. Anavatos flourished during the last centuries of the Turkish rule, but suffered severely in 1822 from the destruction by the Turks and in 1881 from a devastating earthquake.

Nowadays the settlement is almost completely deserted. A medieval castle stands on top of the village, which developed with time passing by into the shape of an amphitheatre with the acropolis at the edge of the ravine. Quite a lot of the settlement's narrow fronted homes are preserved to give a unique picture of a ghost town in a wild evocative environment.

The church of the Taxiarchis (the Archangel) is well-preserved and dominating the crest of the acropolis. It is the only building that, from a distance, still stands out amidst this living ghost town. Not far away from the walls gate, an imposing structure predominates among the buildings of its eastern side; it is the so-called three-store building, consisting of an olive-oil mill, a school, a water reservoir and the Church of Theotokos (the Virgin Mary).

Anavatos, the village monument with its tower-like houses, arches and steep cobbled roads, constitutes a beautiful and awe inspiring place, and the remaining homes today reveal the flavor of this lost village.

Reaching the coast west of Anavatos, Elinda, a beatiful cove with a preserved, desert beach is located, where nature is still ruling, and visitors can enjoy the natural beauty of the island of Chios.