CHIOS - The Unspoiled Island

Trip Start May 10, 2010
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Trip End May 15, 2010


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Flag of Greece  , North Aegean,
Monday, May 10, 2010


THE UNSPOILED ISLAND OF CHIOS

ITS LOCATION

Chios is situated in the northeastern Aegean area near the Asia Minor coast. It is very near the island of Lesvos in the north and the island of Samos in the south.

It is about 165 miles away from Piraeus and Athens, and it is the 5th largest of the Greek islands, extending to 840 square miles.

The islands of Psara and Inouses belong to the perfecture of Chios and all three islands have a total area of 905 square miles in extend. The length of the island is about 200 kms. It has a population of about 53.000 people

CHIOS THROUGH THE AGES
Chios has a continuous history of 8.000 years, obvious today to the visitor, who can explore the island very easily and discover the past through the numerous monuments and archaeological sites.

Following the neolithic civilization which goes back to the 6th millennium B.C., the early introduction of metals in the 3rd millennium, and a strong Mycenaean influence in the 2nd millennium, the Greeks settled on the island at the beginning of the 1st millennium B.C.

Soon, making good use of its special strategic georgraphical position and its natural resources, the island became an important commerical and sailing centre of the ancient world.

At the same time art and cultrue flourished.

The island of Chios was the home-town of a series of people of letters and the arts and the centre of a school of sculpture.

In the 9th centry B.C., two of the world's greatest poems, the Iliad and the Odyssey, are said to be the work of a blind poet and singer from Chios named Homer.

In medieval times Chios was a strong Byzantine centre, while after the Crusades the island received western influence, especially from the Italian city-state of Genoa, till the 16th century AD. From that time onwards, Chios became a semi-autonomous Christian territory of the Ottoman Empire till 1912 when the island, populated by a vast majority of Greeks, joined the Greek State.

A HISTORICAL LOOK

A look into the history of Chios takes us first to the prehistoric times and then follows various pre-Hellenistic races who settled on the island.

Chios has perhaps been unique in its history for the number of major disasters its inhabitants have suffered either through war and invasion or through earthquakes.

Inhabited from the Bronze Age, Chios was later colonized by the Ionians and was one of the 12 city states on the mainland of Asia Minor and certain neighboring islands constituting the Ionian Confederacy, also known as Panionian Dodecapolis.

After the confederacy, Chios became involved in the civil wars among the rival Greek cities, suffering reprisals from all directions.

On the brighter side of things, Malas establishes the famous Chios School of Sculpture in the seventh century B.C. and a number of great sculptors like Mikkiades, Bupalos, Archermos, Athenis, Malas and Glavkos were graduates of the school.

In the Hellenistic era, the famous historian from Chios, Theopompos, joins Alexander the Great on his great pursuit and records all the valuable facts for posterity. In Roman times, Chios again suffered as its wealth and accessibility was too great a temptation, although certain Roman Emperors, especially Tiberius, helped the islanders, shortly before the birth of Christ, when it suffered an earthquake.



During the Byzantine period, Chios regained its commercial power, thanks to its shipping fleet. The Byzantines did their best to defend Chios against invaders from the East and West, but finally lost it to the Venetians and later the Genoese who held the island firmly until 1566, when it fell to the Ottoman Empire.

The famous explorer Christopher Columbus, credited with finding America, came to Chios and stayed for two years. He was supplied by the islanders with maps and valuable information as he planned his famous voyage across the Atlantic Ocean.

The Turks sacked the island in 1882, after Chios revolted against Turkish rule, alongside with the rest of Greece, and 25,000 of its inhabitants were massacred and 47,000 taken away to slavery. This disaster was the subject of a famous painting by Delacroix and helped towards an outburst of Western opinion in favor of Greece's independence.

These misfortunes turned the islanders into seafarers and traders in foreign lands, and some of Greece's leading shipowners today are from this island.
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