Chios island: History & Fun Facts

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Chios island, located near the eastern borders of Greece, is a hidden gem for anyone who wants to learn more about its original culture and rich history. Select the Greek island of Chios as the location of your upcoming vacation, and we’ll show you everything you must not miss there!

The fifth-largest Greek island, Chios, is situated in the Aegean Sea. The island has an area of roughly 842 km2. It has beautiful beaches with mild waves on its eastern and western coasts, long, winding valleys, lofty mountains, underground caverns, and mysterious gorges created by swiftly moving rivers. You can get to Chios either by plane or by ferry.

In addition to its natural beauty, Chios is a location that showcases Greek history going back to the Neolithic era as well as remarkable monuments from various periods, making it the perfect site for tourists to immerse themselves in the island’s culture.

The Nea Moni Monastery, listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site and thought to be the most likely location of the famous poet Homer’s birthplace, is located on the island of Chios, which is renowned for the production of Chios mastic.

The Orion legend of Chios island

Zeus and Poseidon, according to legend, took a stroll among mankind while posing as everyday men one day. This was something they always enjoyed doing the most. On one of their walks, they reached the Boeotian regions, where Hyrieus, a local hero of the area, hosted them. Unaware that he was entertaining gods, Hyrieus did his best to satisfy his guests by providing whatever he could.

Hyrieus was an elderly man at the time, and although leading a life that was quite fulfilling, he opened up to his visitors about his one grievance. The fact that he was childless made him feel wretched and inadequate.

Zeus and Poseidon decided to grant Hyrieus this one more wish after they had gone and given his words some thought. The following morning, when Hyrieus opened his door to walk to his fields, he discovered young Orion, a baby, on his threshold.

Over the years, Orion developed into a gorgeous young man and an exceptionally skilled hunter. He undoubtedly distinguished himself from the other mortals because of his celestial ancestry. He had quite the looks, was unusually tall (some traditions refer to him as a giant), and Poseidon had given him the power to walk on water’s surface as a gift.

Being regarded as the most excellent hunter to have ever lived since he was a little kid, he was even permitted to accompany the virgin goddess Artemis on her hunting expeditions. He traveled from the island of Crete to Chios island during one of his hunting expeditions, where he immediately noticed and fell in love with a stunning young lady named Merope. She was the daughter of Ariadne, the queen of the island of Chios, and Oenopion, the son of Dionysus. Orion begged Oenopion to let him marry his daughter since he was much in love with her.

The monarch finally consented, but with one stipulation: Orion was required to hunt down the feral animals stalking the Chios plains and ruining the farmers’ crops. Orion agreed to the bargain, but when he returned to the king’s presence, he learned a surprise.

After changing his mind, Oenopion declined to give Orion his daughter as a wife. In addition, he made Orion drink a cup of toxic wine (after all, he was the son of Dionysus), which rendered him blind.

Oenopion kidnapped Orion after losing sight and hurled him into the water. Hephaestus and Artemis found him wandering blind and brought him to Apollo, pleading with him to heal him (other versions of the myth mention Cedalion and Helios).

When his sight returned, Orion tried vainly to exact revenge on Oenopion since the king had taken cover in a bronze chamber belowground. Even though Orion was still the best hunter alive, his greatest gift ultimately led to his demise.

According to the most popular legend, Orion boasted that he would hunt down and kill every animal on Earth, but Gaia (Mother Earth, the Titaness), sent a Scorpion to kill him.

Following Artemis’ suggestion, Orion and the Scorpion were designated as opposed constellations among the stars; one rises as the other sets. In Homer’s Odyssey, Odysseus witnessed Orion in the Underworld carrying on with what he did best: using a metal club for hunting animals.

Chios island in Antiquity

Like only a few other Greek islands, Chios appears to have been populated since the Neolithic era, contributing significantly to the development of western civilization. According to historical records, the illustrious Leleges, a prehistoric Greek tribe that the powerful Minoans subjugated, were the first settlers.

The presence of prosperous Mycenaean colonies in the area after the Ionians’ invasion indicates a change in the balance of power. At Emporio, the island’s furthest southerly tip, you may find the biggest one.

The population of Chios island gradually grew during the ensuing centuries, and the locals began colonizing nearby Greek islands and the coast of Asia Minor to further their interests and expand their spheres of influence. Chios was a member of the Ionian League in the seventh century BC, a grouping of twelve Ionian city-states that were political and religious.

Chios expanded its trade and economy as a league member, and it was one of the first city-states to issue coins. It appears that Chios island had chosen a particular kind of regiment modeled on the reforms Solon had instituted in Athens.

The Persian Empire seized the island in the early fifth century and ruled it until 479 BC, when the islanders rose and reclaimed their independence. The Delian League was joined by Chios, ensuring its defense against the Persian menace. Since Chian amphoras have been discovered in locations in Russia and Egypt, it is likely that traders from Chios steadily pushed their routes even further outside of the Greek region.

The island generally followed the trend of Greek history, taking part in the Peloponnesian War, becoming influenced by Alexander the Great, and finally becoming a part of the Roman Empire. The island’s strategic importance was highlighted during Byzantine times, and a massive defensive construction program took place, which is today visible at the Castle of Chios.

Emperor Constantine IX Monomachos established the Nea Moni, a monastery that sits roughly in the middle of the island, in 1042. With its magnificent décor of superb mosaics and frescoes dating to the 11th century, this monastery is a fine example of Byzantine architecture and a part of the UNESCO network of World Heritage Sites.

Chios island in the Ottoman period

Chios remained a significant Aegean Sea commerce hub even after the Byzantine empire collapsed and the Ottomans arrived. Notably, the 18th century is regarded as the island’s golden age.

Due to the island’s inhabitants’ trade activities in the silk and textile industries, as well as their production of mastic resin, enormous sums of money were amassed there. The island had particular privileges under the Ottoman administration because of its wealth. But following the Greek War of Independence, everything changed.

When Chios island joined the Revolution in 1822, the Sultan responded harshly and swiftly. He dispatched a fleet and 7,000 soldiers from Istanbul to stop this uprising. The Ottoman army had explicit orders to execute every child under the age of three, every male over the age of 12, and every woman over 40 while razing everything to the ground for 40 days.

In the Mediterranean region, about 23,000 individuals were killed, 10,000 perished from suffering, and over 47,000 were sold as slaves to various slave markets. The massacre at Chios, a masterpiece painted by renowned artist Eugene Delacroix in remembrance of the people of Chios island, was inspired by this catastrophe, which profoundly affected Europe.

Chios island in the 21st century

The island’s population has stabilized, and its residents now earn a living from other ventures like tourism, trade, and fishing, in addition to the traditional cultivation of mastic trees. Chios is undoubtedly a magical location with a rich history and monuments from many eras.

Despite its complicated past, Chios is still standing proudly today! It’s a living island! And all 50.000 of its residents accurately reflect that. Therefore, Chios island is the spot for you to go if you want to enjoy an authentic taste of Greece and discover yourself in a location off the main road.

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