The pebbled courtyards of Chios: An art gallery under your feet Featured
Chios has been characterized “Myrovolos” (fragrant) due to the characteristic scents of the gardens, especially in the area of Kampos. Apart from the wonderful fragrances, the gardens and the yards of Chios offer a unique sight, part of which is the elaborate pebbled flooring, called “votsaloto” by the locals, made by black and white pebbles that create complex patterns and look like luxury carpets.
The construction of a pebbled yard requires craftsmanship and hard work. There must be a design and then skilled workers to work on it. The craftsmen use river and sea pebbles that stand upright next to each other on fresh cement that has been laid on hard ground. In order to complete a square meter, four workers need to work at least three hours, who of course should have worked before in order to collect the pebbles, allocate them according to color and size and prepare the floor. For this reason, the pebbled yards were always considered a luxury. Nowadays it is no longer possible to take pebbles from the beaches and such constructions are made only with industrial materials.
The colors are mainly white and black, the motifs linear, but you will also find patterns such as flowers, pots, birds and animals, boats and anchors. In many courtyards, you will find the date of construction, messages such as "ΧΑΙΡΕΤΕ" (welcome) at the entrance, or even the owner's initials, all written with pebbles.In Chios you will have the chance to admire many beautiful and pebbled yards. In Chios town you can visit the yards of the Cathedral (made in 1895), the Korais Library, the 11th Primary School and the University of the Aegean.
In Vrontados you should visit the yards of the following churches: Panagia Erithiani(1892), Panagia Moutsaina, Agios Isidoros and Agios Kirikos.In Kampos area, most of the mansions and churches have enchanting pebbled yards. While taking a walk around, most of the owners of the mansions and the hostels always have the good will to open their doors to the visitors. The churches of Panagia Syriotissa, Agios Polykarpos and Panagia Agiodektini, are especially worth visiting as well as hostels such as Mavrokordatiko and Perleas and of course the “Citrus Estate”. Finally, in South Chios, visit the Taxiarchis church at Mesta, to admire the oldest courtyard dating back to 1827.
Tip: In the bookstores of Chios you can find the book “The pebbled courtyards of Chios”, a very valuable survey both in Greek and English, written by the chian architect Maria Xyda.