History

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Prehistoric period | Ancient times | Byzantine period | Genovese period | Ottoman period | Liberation

 

Chios in the prehistoric period

The first tribes that inhabited the island were the Pelasgoi and Kares. There are names of places on the island dating back to this time. Signs of settlements date back to the Middle and new Neolithic period (6 – 5.000 B.C.) and can be found in the village of Agio Galas at the northern part of Chios. Archaeological excavations have revealed prehistoric settlements in the south, at Emporios and Fana. In Psara, tombs of the Mycenaic period have been discovered.

Around the middle of the 11c. B.C., the Ionians arrived at Chios. The Ionians who inhabited the island made it part of the Panionion, the union of the Ionian cities of Asia Minor.

 

Chios in the Ancient times

The Ionians were merchants and mariners. The famous wine of Chios, “Ariousios”, had travelled to all parts of the known world of the time. Amphorae from Chios have been found in various places in the Mediterranean, in Egypt and the Black Sea. Chios, like the other Ionian cities, was occupied by the Persians in 493 B.C. In 479 B.C. the Chiots revolted and gained their independence, after the sea battle of Mykali. The Chiots, having a powerful fleet, enter the Athenina Alliance.

The ancient city of Chios was built in almost the same location with the present city. It was a prosperous city, with the phrase “Chiot life” signifying the good life led by the population.

The Peloponnesian War disrupted the balance of power in the Aegean, affecting the economy and the trade. Chios, as a member of the Athenian Alliance, fought alongside the Athenians, until their defeat in Sicily. The Athenians attacked the island, but the Spartans won, establishing an oligarchy. After that, they left the alliance. In the years of Alexander the Great and his predecessors, Chios economy flourished, as is evident by relevant archaeological findings (i.e.a Macedonian Tomb that is exhibited at Chios Archaeological Museum).

Unfortunately, the subsequent catastrophes and the earthquakes that took place in the region resulted in few of the evidence of that time surviving today.

 

Chios in the Byzantine years

The Byzantine administration recognized Chios’ important geographic location and reinforced the island’s defense with castles. During this period, the castles of Chios and Volissos were built. A lot of monuments of the Byzantine period have been preserved to this day, such as, the early Christian basilica of Agios Isidoros and the one of Agios Vasileios, as well as important monasteries and churches.

The monastery of Nea Moni is the most important monastery and byzantine monument, listed in the UNESCO catalog of Monuments of World Heritage. The monastery was built in the 11th century by imperial decree. It is an example of the Constantinople art of the era, in architecture and in the mosaics decoration.

 

Genovese period (1346 - 1566)

Chios was taken over by the Genovese, after a series of raids, in 1346. The Genovese organized the cultivation and trade of the Chios mastic, a unique product of the island, in a systematic way. An all-powerful Genovese company, the Mahona, ruled the island. The Mahona administration was very suppressive. It also reinforced the island’s defense, especially in the mastic producing southern regions. The villages of Mesta, Pyrgi, Olympoi and Kalamoti, as well as many more castles and watchtowers (called Viglas in greek), are examples of this defensive architecture. The Genovese also built mansions in the regions of Kampos and Sklavia.

 

Ottoman period (1566 -1912)

Chios became part of the Ottoman Empire in 1566. The cultivation of the mastic secured the island a number of privileges granted by the ottoman rule. This resulted in a rapid development of the trade and marine sectors. Chios developed trade relationships with important trade centers of the Mediterranean and the Black Sea, and a trading network connecting the cities of Marseille, Trieste, Odessa and Alexandria was established. The trading and shipping families of the island built their mansions in Kampos and in the town of Chios. At the same time, the Koraes Library and the School of Chios were founded, giving rise to the cultural development of the island.

In 1822, during the Greek Revolution, an unsuccessful revolt against the Ottoman rule, led to the catastrophe of the island. Eugene Delacroix inspired by the tragic events painted his famous work “The massacre of Chios” giving rise to a European philhellenic movement. A copy of this painting, made by the Greek painter Evaggelos Ioannides, is exhibited in the Chios Byzantine Museum, in Mecidiye Cami (a mid-19th century Ottoman Mosque).

 

Liberation

In 1912, during the Balkan wars (1912 - 1914) Chios became a part of the Greek State. Due to the Asia Minor catastrophe of 1922 the island’s communications and relationship with Smyrna and towns and villages of the area came to an abrupt end. At the same time the island welcomed thousands of refugees who affected in a positive way the local community and economy.

During the German occupation, National resistance fighters travelled via Chios to the Middle East to enlist in the Allies’ Army. Some of the prominent Resistance figures are Iason Kalampokas, Kostas Perrikos and Panos Karasoulis.

Archive

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Contact: Regional Unit Of Chios Department of Tourism | Phone numbers: 0030 22713-50514 & 0030 22713-50516 | FAX: 0030 22713-50517 | Emailtourismos@chios.pvaigaiou.gov.gr