South Chios Tour (Mastic Villages)
Our destination is the southern part of Chios, Masticochoria. We will go to be pleasantly surprised at every step, to be satisfied with images, smells and tastes in the villages that produce the island's treasure. The history of Mastic villages begins in the Middle Ages, in the years of the conquest of Chios by the Genoese (1346-1566), when the villages of southern Chios, where mastic is produced, were organized as fortress settlements, aiming to defend against the invaders who plagued the Aegean.
Unseen from the sea, the 24 villages that make up the medieval settlement complex that was built to house the families of mastic growers and lords who exploited the income. Of all the Mastic villages, those that are still preserved in the best condition after the catastrophic earthquake of 1881 are Mesta, Olympi and Pyrgi. Our first stop is Armolia, famous for its clay, followed by Pyrgi, the "painted village" in which the most important attraction is the tower houses themselves with the "scratches", the decorative elements on the facade with geometric shapes in black and white.
This technique of exterior decoration was loved by the locals and for this reason they kept it alive to this day. Next stop is Mesta, the most well-preserved of the medieval villages. Its ornate architecture dates back to the Byzantine period and the village itself is built like a castle. The houses, small and made of stone, built next to each other, form a strong protective wall on the outer perimeter of the settlement. The walk in the small alleys of the village, under the arches that form the balconies, looks like a journey back to the 14th century as little has changed since then in the village that has been designed and built like a labyrinth.
Residents could enter and leave the village only through a door which is now located at Kato Porta. In the center of Mesta rises the defensive tower, a type of Acropolis which the inhabitants had as a shelter in case of attack. The oldest monument (except the village itself) is the church of Paleos Taxiarchis with the wood-carved iconostasis that is considered an elaborate example of Chian wood carving.