PIRGI - (Tiled designed houses) CHIOS
Trip Start May 10, 2010
15Trip End May 15, 2010
On our second visit the following day however, when I got in the centre of the village and walked all the way through the central square and its narrow streets, I changed my mind.
It is the largest of the medieval villages of Mastichochoria, famous for the Byzantine church of Aghios Apostolos, its central medieval tower and the multitude of churches
Pyrgi is a touristic attraction and while there, we saw several taxis bringing tourists from the port to see this unique in its kind village. They were spread throughout the village taking photos. I talked to some of them and they were in a hurry as their cruise ship was leaving that same afternoon. They told me that they wished they had more time to explore the whole island. They were sorry that they were moving around so fast and said that taxis cost quite a lot. (They had no time to come with the local bus).
The most interesting feature of Pirgi are the decorative designs scratched into the exterior walls of the houses, known as scrafitti or ksista. Mostly geometric forms, ksista has gone through several periods and may have originated in Genoa or in Constantinople.
In the Middle Ages the village was a fortified settlement, with defensive walls and turrets at the four corners. There was also a huge tower in the middle of the village. The name of the village, "Pirgí" came from the Greek word for tower, "pırgos" .
Part of the Central Tower, found in the south was constructed in the Genoan period, and it functioned as the military and administrative centre
There was no entrance at the ground level, and to enter inside, people needed to use movable stairs or ladders.
Originally the tower had three storeys, and it was 18 metres high. It was abandoned however during the Turkish period, and both the western and easter parts fell off at the earthquake of 1881. The year 1936 the town authority demolished the upper part of the tower fearing that it might collapse.
Another feature of the village are the tomatoes which hang drying beneath many of the balconies of Pirgi, adding a splash of colour to the back and white designs on the houses.
Now, according to locals, this village is the ancestral home of Christopher Colombus, and his house is just off the main square with a plaque placed by the European Union. He has lived here for some time. Many people have their last name of Columbus or Couloumbos and it is know that many of Colombus crew were Greek. He was the one who wrote about the healing properties of mastic.
A very different picture to that of the rest of the villages. It is indeed something very different worth to be visited - even once!.