August 15th on Chios Island, Greece

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On August 15th, Greek Orthodox Church celebrates the Virgin’s Dormition. The Feast of Dormition is also known as “the summer’s Easter”, signifying the importance of the feast and the holiday. At the peak of the summer holidays, this celebration is an opportunity for families and friends to come together and for visitors of the island to experience traditional events and local dishes at the “panigiria” that take place at the villages. At the same time, during August, a lot of cultural events take place, offering many options for fun and entertainment.  

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Chios Music Festival Summer 2019: "Love and Diversity"

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With tales about fairies and elves, a contemporary interactive performance of music theatre based on speed dating and three concerts with a wide range of repertoire, from classical music and famous soundtracks, to traditional polyphonic songs but also covers from the international rock and jazz scene, the Chios Music Festival makes its comeback this summer. Three historical estates of Kampos, Karaviko, Riziko and Spyros Stephanou Estate, the Ottoman school at the Castle, the Amphitheatre of Oinousses and the Courtyard of the Archaeological Museum of Chios will welcome over 50 artists from Greece and abroad, musicians, actors, filmmakers, professionals and amateurs, who will praise in their own way, love life, love for the world, love for each other, love for the arts and music...

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The countless aspects of Beauty at Chios Mastic Museum

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“The countless aspects of Beauty” is a periodic exhibition that took place at the National Archaeological Museum in celebration of its 150 years. A choice of unique antiquities that were presented in the context of this exhibition travelled to the thematic museums of Pireaus’s Group Cultural Foundation. In 2018, the exhibition was presented at Sparti, Ioannina and Tinos. Last Tuesday, it opened at Chios Mastic Museum, where it will remain until September 8, 2019.

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Holy Week and Easter on Chios Island

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Easter holidays have officially begun and our daily routine is adapted accordingly. The Holy Week on Chios island is determined by the fast, the Easter celebration preparations and, of course, the visit to church.

Observing the Holy Week liturgies is a must for a lot of people on the island, given that Easter is the most important celebration of the Greek Orthodox Church. The Holy Week liturgies can be impressive, moving and very spiritual. If you are looking for an authentic experience of Greek Easter, Chios island will spoil you for choice. Participating in a Holy Week liturgy in one of the ancient monasteries of the island, or in one of the castle villages of mastiha, is an unforgettable experience.

Holy Thursday in Nea Moni monastery of Chios

Nea Moni is the 11th century Byzantine monastery and UNESCO world heritage monument on Chios island. On Holy Thursday, the day Jesus’ crucifixion takes place, the congregation gathers to listen to the reading of the twelve gospels under candlelight, the imposing dome and the famous golden mosaics of the church dedicated to Virgin Mary’s dormition.

Holy Friday in Chios Town and the Mastiha villages

On Good Friday the Epitaphs in every church are decorated with fresh fragrant flowers. It is customary for locals to visit several parishes in order to admire their Epitaphs and pay their respects.

On Good Friday Evening the Epitaph procession of the town’s Cathedral takes place, accompanied by the Chios Philarmonic and a military group. The procession arrives at the town square where it is met by Epitaphs from other town parishes, creating an imposing spectacle. The Epitaph procession at the Castle of Chios is also very moving, as it passes through the narrow Castle alleys. Often the procession passes by Chios port at the time the ferry arrives, allowing for passengers and crew to disembark in order to pay their respects.

Following the Epitaph procession at one of the villages of Mastiha is a unique experience. From Vessa and Olympoi to Pyrgi and Mesta, whichever village you choose to visit on this day, it is certain that you will have an unforgettable experience.  

Holy Saturday at the Rouketopolemos (Rocketwar) of Vrontados

This is the main event of Easter in Chios. In Vrontados, at the north of the town, the two largest parishes, Panagia Erythiani and Agios Markos revive an old tradition. At Easter night they light hand-made rockets, signifying the victory of life over death and creating the most glorious spectacle of Greek- Orthodox Easter you have ever experienced.

Happy Easter to everyone!

* Thanks to Politis newspaperChiosphotos.gr and Tolis Flioukas for their photos.

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Glorious Greek Easter on Chios Island

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Like every year, Chios, the fragrant North Aegean Island, is the ultimate Greek Easter destination, mostly because of the Rocketwar event, but for other reasons too!

The rocketwar was and still is the most important event of Easter celebrations on Chios island. Locals from the two largest parishes of Vrontados village, namely Panagia Erithiani and Agios Markos, participate in a traditional event that dates back to the ottoman era. The locals make handmade fireworks called rockets which are fired between the two opposing parishes, in a mock up war that lights the night sky on Good Saturday.

However, we can have many more experiences in springtime Chios, as we discover hidden corners of the island during the Easter Holidays:

Spring is pure magic in Kampos. We may choose to stay in a local traditional mansion. We can visit Citrus Museum to learn more about the history of the citrus fruits commerce in Chios. We will walk across citrus gardens in full blossom, cycle in the narrow alleys of Kampos and go on a gastronomy tour of the area to try local delicacies, such as spoon sweets and other traditional products.

We can visit Chios monasteries, starting with Nea Moni, an 11th century Byzantine Monastery and a UNESCO Monument of World Heritage, where we can admire the famous mosaics, a prominent example of the Constantinople School of the time. Nea Moni also operates as a church where you can follow one of the liturgies of the Holy Week. We will hike on the path between Nea Moni and Agioi Pateres Monasteries, and then tour the medieval traditional settlements of Anavatos and Avgonyma where we can enjoy delicious traditional food at the local taverns.

On Good Friday we visit Chios Castle. From the picturesque church of St. George we follow the Epitaph process to Chios Town square, where an imposing event takes place, as epitaphs from various parishes of town gather. This is a night that lives up to the day’s solemnity: epitaphs decorated with all the flowers of Chios spring and moving byzantine psalms. Alternatively, we can follow the Epitaph procedure at one of the Mastiha villages of the south, such as Mesta or Olympoi.

In Vrontados, on Good Saturday the Rocketwar event takes place, as the handmade rockets are fired between the two parishes, signifying the start of the spring and the most glorious Easter celebration. However, apart from Vrontados, bear in mind that all liturgies of the Holy Week all over Chios Island are loud and noisy, but the smell of fireworks is an essential ingredient of the Easter atmosphere.

After the Resurrection liturgy on Good Saturday, we can enjoy the traditional mageiritsa in one of the local restaurants or hotels. On Easter Sunday a lot of local taverns and restaurants offer traditional goat or lamb and other traditional dishes, which we can accompany with local wine, ouzo or souma.  

On Easter Monday, it is customary to go on an excursion in the countryside, while celebrations with traditional music and dancing take place in a few villages.

This year, like every year, Chios is the ultimate Easter island destination, with so many choices of unforgettable experiences.

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Chios Maritime Museum

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Chios Maritime Museum is established at an impressive neoclassic building at the centre of Chios town (Address: Stefanou Tsouri 20), that was donated by the heirs of Anastasios and Marouko Patera. It aims to promote the long nautical history and tradition of Chios island and the role it has played in the modern shipping industry. Its exhibition includes naïve paintings of ships by the folk painter Aristeidis Glykas from Vrontados, parts and models of ships, photographs and other artefacts of maritime life. A visit there is a must during a walk around Chios Town.

As you enter the garden and yard of Chios Maritime Museum, you cannot miss the monument dedicated to the memory of 328 Chian mariners who were lost at sea during the  World War II. It was created by sculptor Alexandros Kokkinos. It is made from stainless steel and the 328 names are engraved on it.

Chios Maritime Museum has a library with a collection of books, brochures and documents about maritime themes. It was donated to the museum by journalist E. Batis and the collection is still growing, thanks to donations. The Museum organizes lectures, conferences and educational programs for children. It is also available for hosting events. Usually during the summer, it hosts a couple of very interesting music events, such as Chios Music Festival concerts.

After you finish your tour at Chios Maritime Museum, don’t forget to stop by the cute gift shop, where you can find handmade ceramics, t-shirts and print outs of paintings and Chios engravings.

Opening hours

9:00 – 13:00  (1 November – 30 April) & 9:00 – 14:00 (1 May – 31 October) . Closed on Sundays and official holidays (Open on the Sundays of August: 09:00 - 14:00)

General entrance: 2,50€ - Students and children: 1,50€ - For Schools and Students in Chios: free

Contact information

Tel: (+30) 22710 44139, e-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Website Chios Maritime Museum

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Chios island celebrates New Year with decorated model ships and good wish carols

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On Chios island, the cradle of the Greek shipping industry, we celebrate New Year by decorating model ships! “New Year’s model ships” is an authentic local tradition that takes place on New Year’s Eve normally at the town square, where locals and visitors can enjoy it.  

Groups from various neighbourhoods and parishes of Chios town, Vrontados and the villages form crews and work throughout the year to create their own model ship, either cargo or warship.  This time of year, they go around town carrying their model ship and singing traditional New Year’s carols of Chios island, which include custom made good wishes depending on who the recipient is, known as “penemata” in Greek. Penemata have improvised lyrics and follow musical paths of traditional Asia Minor carols.


On New Year’s Eve the crews gather at Chios town central square, or Homerion Cultural center, depending on the weather, to participate in “The best model ship contest”, organized by Chios Touring Club and Municipality of Chios. For a few hours, the crews stir up the town singing their “penemata”, and playing the traditional Chios bagpipe and the traditional drum. During the night, the crews visit neighborhoods all over town. People welcome them and listen to the carols and their good wishes, which are specially improvised to every household (the lyrics are adjusted depending on whether the specific household has children, immigrants or seamen).

Following this link, you can listen to an excellent performance of Chios traditional New Year’s carols and “penemata”, by Pantelis Thalassinos.

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Homer, poet of the world, and his relationship with Chios island

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The great epic poet of the ancient world, creator of the Iliad and the Odyssey, is connected to Chios island through a tradition that dates back to ancient times and is alive until nowadays. Homer never mentioned his hometown sparkling thus a long dispute about it, as neither his biographers nor the researchers have agreed upon it. In this long dispute various Greek cities have claimed him, but Chios is always among them, and has become the predominant city claiming Homer’s origin. This connection is supported by a series of evidence from philological sources and archaeological findings to old local traditions. All this evidence has prompted the travelers that visited the island after the 14th century to seek zealously for signs of Homer’s school, his house and his grave. The travelers’ research on Homer added to this tradition that connect the epic poet to the island – a tradition that the people of Chios are very proud of.

On Homer’s trail

Which areas of Chios island are traditionally connected to the great epic poet of antiquity?

The temple of ancient goddess Cybele at Daskalopetra, also known as Homer’s Rock

The rock of Daskalopetra has been traditionally connected to the School of Homer. The main part of the rock has been thought of as the throne where the poet would sit, teach his students and recite his poems. The rock has always been visible since ancient times: an important site and reference for travelers and visitors.  

The interpretation of the ancient monument has long been disputed as well. The archaeological research has now concluded that it was an open-air temple of the ancient goddess Cybele, patron of nature and fertility, whose worship was popular in Chios. However, the misunderstanding with Homer might not be accidental. Some researchers have observed that the goddess’ worship could be connected to poetry competitions and Homerides, bards from Chios, who claimed that their ancestry dated back to Homer himself.


 Volissos &  Pityos

In ancient times there were no authentic historic records on the life and work of Homer, there were a lot of authors who tried to gather evidence that were part of the tradition and the collective memory. This way, the poet’s biographies were created mostly like fairy tales. The oldest and longest biography we know of is by Herodotus of Alicarnassus, known as Pseudoherodotus. The author describes Homer’s arrival and life in Chios. Among other things, he mentions his arrival on the island from Focea of Erythrea, when he spent one night at the beach. After that, he travelled into the mainland and arrived at the village we know today as Pityos. There he wandered in the forest where he had various adventures and he was taken in by a shepherd named Glaucus. The shpeperd led him to Volissos village, where he stayed and worked as a teacher, teaching the local lord’s children. Similar accounts are repeated in other biographies of the poet, connecting Homer to these parts of North Chios.  

 Homer and the travelers: “Epano merea”

 This connection was further supported by the accounts of the travelers that visited Chios from the 14th to the 19th century. They enthusiastically searched “Homeric sites”, recorded their experiences and the locals’ accounts and created maps marking important sites, such as Homer’s settlement and Homer’s grave.

Traveller Christoforo Buondelmonti was a characteristic example. He refers to “Epano merea” the Northwest past of the island, marking on the map he designed "Homer’s grave" and "Homer’s citadel".

 

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Discovering the ceramic workshops of Armolia village

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The village of Armolia is located on the main crossroads to the mastiha villages of the south. It lies twenty kilometers from the town of Chios on a fertile plain. The people of Armolia maintain a long tradition in ceramic pottery, one of the oldest and most widespread of the decorative arts, consisting of objects made of clay and hardened with heat.


The main road at the entrance of the village is lined with pottery shops. Most of the shop owners continue the family tradition, creating traditional items just as their parents. Plus they are painting their creations both in traditional and modern designs and colours.

On your next visit at the mastiha villages discover the permanent exhibitions of hand-crafted ceramics and do not miss a visit at their wokshops where you can see yourself the potters working at the wheels showing how a lump of clay is transformed into a finished piece of pottery.


Tip: Armolia is a very beautiful village, spend some extra time wandering through the narrow streets and stop for a coffee, food or even a sweet at the exquisite pastry shop situated at the entrance of the village

 

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An unforgettable walk in Chios Castle

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Walking in Chios Castle is like time travel. Let’s get lost in the narrow spiral alleys marked by history and time. Although in the city center, everything here is tranquil, while at the same time it is one of the most vibrant neighbourhoods of the city. Every time we walk around Chios Castle there is something new to discover.

We enter the Castle via the Great Entrance at the south part of the castle. Also known as “Porta Maggiore”, it is an example of the Italian influence on Chios island, as it was built by the Venetians in 1694.

Next to the Dark Dungeon, the Giustiniani palace was the headquarters of the Genovese administration. Today, after its renovation, it hosts periodical exhibitions by the Ephorate of Antiquities.

The Ottoman cemetery is located at the Castle square, where members of the Ottoman administration were buried between 1822 and 1890. Among other elaborate tombstones we can see the one dedicated to Captain Pasha Kara Ali, head of the Turkish navy, whose flagship was set on fire by Constantine Kanaris, at Chios port, in June 1822.

Bairakli Cami, the only surviving mosque in Chios Castle, was built at the beginning of the 20th century on the ruins of an older one. Walking on the main street, St. George is the central church of Chios Castle. It was built in 993 A.D. and during the ottoman times it operated as a mosque. The church’s courtyard is shared with the building of the old ottoman school which has now been restored and serves as the offices of the Ephorate of Antiquities.

Our next stop is the group of the Ottoman Baths, also known as hammam. They were successfully restored in 2012 and have since become one of the most impressive buildings one can visit in the Castle. Cultural events and exhibitions are often held there. 

Walking on after the baths, we can walk up to the eastern Castle Seawall. We can enjoy the view of the Aegean and the island’s east coastline. From this point, we can get a better sense of the size and shape of the castle as well as experiencing walking on the walls of one of the few castles of Greece that has retained its original seaside character.

Back to the Castle square, we can enjoy our coffee or drink at one of the cafes. In the streets of the Castle, we discover the traditional taverns to relax with a couple of local meze and ouzo – admittedly the best way to end this beautiful day at Chios Castle.

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Click here, to visit the website of the former Prefecture of Chios.

Chios.gr is the official tourism web site for Chios, run by the North Aegean Prefecture, where you'll find information on the main tourist destinations, beaches, as well as activities, events and much more!

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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