Chios, Greece

Chios (/ˈk.ɒs/GreekΧίοςpronounced [ˈçios]alternative transliterations Khíos and Híos) is the fifth largest of the Greek islands, situated in the Aegean Sea, 7 kilometres (4.3 mi) off the Anatolian coast. The island is separated from Turkey by the Chios Strait. Chios is notable for its exports of mastic gum and its nickname is The mastic island. Tourist attractions include its medieval villages and the 11th-century monastery of Nea Moni, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Administratively, the island forms a separate municipality within the Chios regional unit, which is part of the North Aegean region. The principal town of the island and seat of the municipality is Chios town.[2] Locals refer to Chios town as “Chora” (“Χώρα” literally means land or country, but usually refers to the capital or a settlement at the highest point of a Greek island).


History of Chios Island

Prehistoric Times

An important island civilization has been developing throughout the area of the north Aegean, to which Chios and Psara belong since the Early Neolithic Era . Settlers were attracted from the earliest times by the favorable ecological conditions. Just who were the first inhabitants is still an open question. There are three versions:

The first one relates the first inhabitants with Pelasgians, from whom many toponyms have survived up to now, such as Pelinaion, Kronos, Dotion, Larisson, et al.

According to the second version the first settler was Oinopion, son of Dionysos or Theseus and Ariadne, who came from Crete. The island was named Chios after his daughter’s name, nymph Chion.

A third version, cited by historian Isidoros, says the name Chios comes by the Phoenicians and means mastic in the Syrian language.

Most probably the final band of colonists before the Ionians were Abantes from Euboia. Tradition refers to a king Amphiklos who came to Chios in response to a delphic oracle and, four generations later, King Hector, who expelled the former inhabitants of the island. The destruction of the Mycenaean settlement at Emporio coincides with beginning of Ionia colonization.

Ancient Chios

Circa 1000BC the first Greeks, Ionians from Boeotia, Attica and the Eastern Peloponnese gradually colonized the islands of Chios and Samos along with 10 cities on Asia Minor, founding the Ionian Dodecapolis. Its center was the sanctuary of Panionion, near Mykale, which eventually, from a religious and festive synod, acquired the form of Koinon (federation of States). Chios flourished and became great naval power. It has been generally accepted that Homer was a native of Chios in the 8th century BC. In the following centuries Chios produced other influential individuals including the 5th century tragic poet Ion, the 4th century historian Theopompus, and several important sculptors in the 6th and 5th centuries, one of whom, Glaucus, was credited with inventing the soldering of metals.

Although Chios formed a loose confederation with the other Ionian city-states and islands, they were conquered by the Persians in the second half of the 6th century BC. And then it was the revolt of Chios and these other Ionian states that brought Athens into direct conflict with the Persians and led to Marathon and Salamis. After the Greek-Persian Wars, Chios joined the Athenian League, but soon grew restive under Athenian ambitions. Athens punished the rebellious Chiots in 412 BC, and Chios moved back into alliance with Athens until regaining independence in 354 BC. By then it was too late, for the Macedonian Greeks under Alexander and then the Romans would exert power over virtually all of the Mediterranean, including Chios.

Byzantine and Genovese Times

Chios came under the Byzantine Greeks. In the 13th century, in the aftermath of the 4th Crusade, first the Venetians and then the Genoese moved in. Chios actually prospered under the Genoese.

Ottoman Occupation

The Turks took over Chios in 1566. In 1821 Chios joined Samos in the general revolt of Greeks against the Turks, and the next year the Turks singled out Chios for particular punishment, slaughtering an estimated 25.000 Chios and enslaving 80.000; those who escaped went to other islands or on to major cities around the world. Later that year the Greek admiral Kanaris, entered the harbor of Chios at night and blew up the Turkish flagship. Chios gained revenge of sort by entering the immortal realm of art when both Delacroix and Hugo commemorated the terrible massacre of 1822. A major earthquake in 1881 also left many islanders dead.

Recent Times

Chios rejoined the rest of independent Greece after the First Balkan War (1912). The Greek Navy liberated Chios in November 1912 in a hard fought but brief amphibious operation. Turkey recognized Greece’s annexation of Chios and the other Aegean islands by the London Treaty of 1913. It was affected by the population exchanges after the Greco-Turkish War of 1919-1922, the incoming Greek refugees settling in the, previously Turkish, Kastro and in new settlements hurriedly built south of Chios Town. During World War II, the island was occupied by the Germans (1941-44), resulting in severe deprivation for the inhabitants.

Today, the island has perhaps the highest per capita income of any “nomos” (prefecturate) of Greece thanks to the fact the Chians own roughly fifty percent of the Greek merchant marine or about 12% of the world’s merchant marine and to the presence of large Chian communities in New York and London which maintain strong ties with the island. Tourism, other than visiting diaspora Chians, is a negligible factor in the island’s economy. Chios is home to a Greek ship-owning fraternity, including the families of Livanos and Chandris, who were from the island.

Source: Chios Association of Washington D.C.


The word “Hellenism” derived from the Greek word “Ellinismos” (ελληνισμός). In Greek, Ellinismos has been used to describe the people of Greek lineage and also to describe a set of values for living that were invented by the ancient Greeks. These values became the basis of today’s Western civilization. First appearing in English as Hellenism in 1609, the word came to represent all things related to Greece including a body of humanistic and classical ideals associated with ancient Greece, and includes reason, the pursuit of knowledge and the arts, moderation, and civic responsibility.




Chios Forieses

Traditional costumes from the Greek Island of Chios ( Χίος, Hios, Khios, Chora.)


Chios Dances

The music of these islands is very delightful and lyrical and as such portrayed in its dances. These are characterized by the lightness of steps and the springing in the knees.  Most frequently danced on the island of Chios are Sirtos, Chiotikos Hasapikos, Karsilamas, Trata and Stavrotos.


Chios Foods

The cuisine of Chios is rich in fruits, vegetables grains and legumes with olive oil as the principal source of fat. The food is homemade. You can eat fresh fish, farmhouse-crafted sheep’s and goat’s milk and cheese. Chios is famed for flavor-some traditional food. If you want to drink something different you may drink “souma” which is made of figs.

All the world know that Greeks live long and that continues to increase, this is due to their dietary habits. Their cuisine includes plenty of vitamin, vegetables and olive oil.

While you are walking down a village street in Chios you have the impression of fresh colorful and aromatic food on this island. You can see famous lemon and tangerines.

In summer the small Chian tomatoes are hung in clusters on every balcony where they will dry nicely for the winter.

In Chios there are many pita-diners on every street corner. You can offer several assortments of pita.




Mastic Trees and Mastic Products are only found on a couple of islands in Greece and is unique to the Island of Chios


Byzantine Arts & Iconography