Made from volcanic ground, the island of Chios emerges in the northern waters of the Aegean Sea. While the northern part is mainly covered with mountains and barren lands, the southern part is colored by fruits, almonds, olives, vines and uncountable mastic trees. These are the most characteristic trees of the island, a bush from whose fruits the Chian exclusively produce worldwide know products such as the mastic gum and a unique liquor that is served as an appetizer.
The main city, also called Chios, is built in a narrow plain with low hills opposite to the Minor Asian coast, in the same place where the ancient city was found. Today, it is a commercially active and lively city, with buildings of recent construction of more than one floor. However, the old flavor can still be noticed since big parts of the Genoese fortress with houses of the Ottoman period are conserved in good conditions, although this Byzantine fortress of the 10th century A.D. had to be repaired by various following conquerors. The main entrance and the western wall show Occidental signs and blazons, while some parts of the 60 meters width ditch surrounding the fortress are also preserved. It was built in the Byzantine period and constituted the the administrative centre of the island. It enjoyed a great development during the Genovese governance. It was an example of a Renaissance-type city. Its walls resisted numerous attacks from Genovese, Venetians and Turks. You will also find the "Justiniani" Museum for Exhibitions and other appreciable Byzantine monuments, as for example, the Saint George Church.
Outside the fortress, in the central square of Vounaki, a mosque houses the Byzantine Museum. This central square "Vounaki" has an admirable garden with the ruins of a church dating from the first Christian years and with various statues of well-known Chioansm, especially Constantine Canaris, a great fighter of the Greek Revolution in 1821. You will also find an outside cafe and a summer-cinema.
The Homerion Cultural Centre organises painting and sculpture exhibitions, theatre representations, concerts, interesting speeches and conferences.
For your walks in the commercial part of the town, you can use the central street and walking area of "Aplotaria", as a point of orientation. "Aplotaria" comes from the verb "aplono", meaning to spread out, because the salesman laid out their products in front of their shops. On your right and on your left, you will find little paths with hundreds of shops and a great variety of products. At the end of the "Aplotaria" street, the Chian Maritime Museum is hosted in a neoclassical building, where you discover Chios' great maritime tradition, known throughout the world by its Ship-owners which control an important part of the world commercial shipping.
If you continue walking on the F. Argenti Street, you will find the Chios Cathedral and on its opposite, the historical High School. Further down is the library "Adamantios Korais" (famous University Professor in Paris), one of the biggest and most imporant in whole Greece, which was considered until the destruction of Chios in 1822 as one of the main librairies of the Eastern Worl. Among its book-collections you will see, in addition to some rare editions donated by late Korais, other significant collections. It contains approximately 130.000 works. An important step to come to a full understanding if Chios' history, is the visit of the Archaeological Museum of Chios, next to the Aegean University. Significant discoveries of the pre-historical, ancient and classical periods from excavations in various sites of the island are presented in the museum.
Once visited the town of Chios, it is worth to make an excursion to other villages such as Karyes. Ten kilometers from there stands Nea Moni, a monastery of the 11th century with spectacularly beautiful mosaics, ones of the best in Greece together with those in Dafnonas and Osiou Loukas.
On the other hand, on the southern part of the island you will find some medieval villages that you should not miss either, such as Mesta, Olympi and Pirgi, in the center of Mastichora. The most characteristic feature of these villages is that their houses are built one attached to the other in a way that their walls make up the village’s wall. Furthermore, the houses in Pirgi are engraved with interesting gray and white decorative drawings. In the center of the village, many small streets come out onto a picturesque square where it stands the church of Aghioi Apostoli, decorated with beautiful murals. Outside the village, in the southern coast of the island, in Kato Fana, lay the ruins of holy Apollo. In Emborios, partly hidden under the sea, there are some remains of what it used to be an ancient important commercial center of the Bronze Age. The village has also a beach of black pebbles perfect for swimming.
The road heading North passes from Vrontados, a municipality with rich villas Towards the end of the settlement there stands the enormous historical rock of Daskalopetra, from where Homer used to teach. Some taverns next to the sea will invite you to taste the local mezedes and the typical drink ouzo. Near this site are the beaches Ormos Lo and Daskalopetra. The Vrontados area is well-known through a custom happening every year on Eastern, after the Announcement of the Resurrection of the Christ. The so-called "Rouketopolemos" (fight of fireworks), offers a fantastic spectacle every year and gets known in the world through tv-news.
A complete highway system connects the city of Chios with the 64 villages (belonging to 8 communes) and the fabulous beaches of the island.