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Aug 11
Last Updated on 22 September 2011

South Chios

One of the nicest features of the south part of Chios is its medieval villages, which were built during the 14th and the 15th century. Their typical architecture is characterized by its narrow paved streets, leading all to a central square, and by a shelter central tower standing in the middle of every village. Pyrgi and Mesta are probably the best examples of this construction.

The first village we encounter going south from Hora is Armolia, famous for its traditional beautiful pottery. There you can also find the church of Panagia and Agios Dimitrios, important for its unique iconostasis from 1744. Besides, west to the village, on the top of a hill, stand the remains of the Apolyhna Castle, a fort from the Genoese occupants which seems to date from 1446 and to be built by Jeronimo Ioustiniani.

Four kilometers from Pyrgi we get to the small bay of Emborio, where some remains of a very ancient village were found. The beach there is also called "Mavra Volia" (black pebbles), since the lava of the volcano next to it, Psaronas, covered the beach many years ago. These black pebbles, together with other white ones, are usually used to make mosaics on the floors, and good examples of it are the ones at the Library of Chios and at the Cathedral. On the hill of Profitis Ilias there was the temple of Minerva, which dates from the 8th century BC and whose remains can be seen in the Archaeological Museum of Chios.

Returning to the main road, the next village is Pyrgi, the "painted" village. This is one of the most important medieval villages of Chios because of its traditions and its architecture. Without a doubt, it is really worth visiting it just to walk around and admire the sculptures and the plaster designs that skillfully decorate the houses, especially those around the main church. Besides, if you are lucky and you get there on the 15th of August, you will be able to live the national holiday with an extremely lively, open celebration with food and dancing. There are also many churches in Pyrgi, but there is one that should not be missed, the church of Agioi Apostoli. This Byzantine church of beautiful frescos was built in the 12th century.

The next village we encounter is located 6 kilometers away from Pyrgi. Its name is Olympi and it is interesting because of the enormous rectangular fort that stands right in the middle of the village and because of the small church of Agia Paraskevi.

Not far away from there, the beach lovers will find their kind of place, since the beaches of Kato Fana, Agia Dinami, Salagona and Potami are really beautiful. In Kato Fana, apart from the beach, you can also see some remains of the ancient temple of Apollo and a winery famous for its wine "faneos oinos".

After Olympi we get to Mesta, probably the most characteristic of the medieval villages. The church of Taxiarchis with its unique iconostasis from 1833, the tower of Militas, the natural port of the town located in a deep and sheltered bay, or beautiful beaches of Agia Irini and Lithi are some of the things you cannot miss if you come by.

Finally, on the way back to Hora and after having enjoyed the local cuisine and mezedes accompanied by ouzo at any of the villages, we come across the last villages. This are the villages of Elata, Vessa and Agios Georgios Sykoussis, this last one is built on the top of a leafy hill with an incredible view to the east.