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The Mastichohoria of Chios
Home > Countries > The Mastichohoria of Chios

The Mastichohoria of Chios

Short Description

Chios is famous for its mild climate, its history, its dominant position in the world shipping industry and its monuments. It is known worldwide also for producing mastic, a product cultivated on the island from the aromatic resin, which is extracted from the shrub pistacia lentiscus that thrives on Chios’ southern hills and is beneficial to human health.

This famous product gave its name to a cluster of medieval villages described as Mastihochoria, which are located at the southwestern tip of Chios Island. These settlements were established during Genoese rule (1346-1566), and until today the villages’ existence is inextricably bound up with the valuable crystal “tear” shed by mastic trees that grow only in Chios and only in the southern part of the island.

Due to a devastating earthquake in 1881 all the Mastihochoria settlements were severely damaged. Those that suffered less serious damage were Pyrgi, Mesta, Olympi, Vessa and Kalamoti.

These are the five villages hat are part of the ENtopia nomination of the Mastihochoria.

What is special

Genoese gave all Mastihochoria settlements a structure similar to a fortress both to protect this fertile land by reinforcing the settlements’ defense against pirates and to control the precious monopoly of mastic.

In the center of each settlement was originally sited a tall rectangular tower and four smaller cylindrical towers on the corners of the wall. The streets were narrow and dark with blind alleys, which not only confused the invaders but also formed the perfect hideout for the villagers to carefully plan their counter attacks.

At Mesta narrow streets with stone fortifications dominate, while bridge-like arches connect the facing houses.

Pyrgi has become famous for an outstanding black and white geometrical decoration on the houses’ outer walls only to be found here in Greece, the so-called "ksistá", a technique of carving geometrical motifs in plaster, very reminiscent of Italian sgraffiti.

Olympi is a well-preserved medieval village with a fine central tower.

Kalamoti, a traditional village with two-storey stone houses, carved doors and narrow streets. Near Kalamoti is the Agriolopousena church with fine frescos of the fourteenth century.

Vessa is a medieval village that lies in a large agricultural basin, to the north of the other Mastihochoria. Vessa has a well-preserved gate, tight urban structure and tall narrow buildings resembling towers.

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