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Chios Attractions and Things to See

Chios is the fifth biggest of the Greek islands, located in the Aegean Sea, sitting five miles off the Asia Minor coast, separated from Turkey by the Chios Strait and well known for its outstanding merchant shipping community, their medieval villages and unusual mastic gum. This mastic is a resin that comes from the mastic trees, like the maple sap that comes from maple trees, which is then made into maple syrup, but this resin is dried instead and becomes hard brittle translucent resin that is chewable, at first somewhat bitter, then the chewing releases a refreshing light pine or cedar flavor. Another outstanding feature of the island is the 11th century monastery, called Nea Moni that has become a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The main town of the island is also called Chios, and during the early years would become known as the "ofioussa" or having snakes and "pityoussa" having pine trees, and during the medieval period would be ruled by many external powers and has been called "Scio" (Genoese), "Chio" (Italian) and "Sakiz" (Ottoman Turkish).

The Nea Moni is situated in the center of the island and had been constructed in elegance with money gifted by the Byzantine Emperor, Constantine IX, after three monks, that were living in the caves close by, would petition him as he sat exiled on the island of Mytilene. The monastery has estates adjacent to it, with a thriving village nearby that would be massacred in 1822, then damaged itself in the earthquake of 1881, and in 1952, after having a shortage of monks would then be converted into a convent, and after the last nun passes on, it will revert to a monastery once more.

To the south is the region of Kambochoria that contains a collection of medieval villages and an agricultural economy that grows four types of wild tulips. West of it is the central ridge of the island and the 16th century village of Agios Georgios Sikousis and strategically looks on both sides of the island, that had been fortified with both tower and walls. The island has an incredible history that has been uncovered by archaeologists with evidence that it was inhabited since the Neolithic period that was almost 12,000 years ago, and include the cave dwellings at Hagio Galas, in the northern part of the region, as well as a settlement and an accompanying necropolis that exists at the far southern point of the island. Because of these excavations and artifacts discovered, it has a magnificent history that dates to the prehistoric period, the archaic and classical periods, the Hellenistic period, Roman, Middle Ages, Genoese, Ottoman and Modern.

The country's landmarks include the monastery, the Korai Library houses some 95,000 volumes and is one of the most significant in Greece, the Chios Byzantine Museum, the Archaeological Museum of Chios, the Easter church war and supposedly a small country church that contains a family memorial that lists 14 generations of one family that started at the fifth century BC and went back as far as the 10th century BC, which was before any written records were made in Greece. A few notable people were born here, with one questionable person that was Christopher Columbus, the others are Glaucus, the inventor of welding during the 7th to 6th century BC, Homer the poet in the 8th century BC and a fellow called Aristotle Onassis, that many might not know, but was the second husband of a beautiful young widow named Jacqueline Kennedy.

Greek cuisine shares many characteristics with the Balkans, Italy, the Levant and Turkey that makes use of olive oil, vegetables, wine, fish, herbs, grains and bread and various meats that include pork, poultry and rabbit, with olives, cheese, yogurt, courgette and aubergine being fairly often used in their diet as well. Aubergine is another name for what we call eggplant, while courgette is called zucchini in the United States.  In Chios, traditional Greek fare is the most popular, with some local flavors or variations added using the island's naturally grown crops, meats and fish caught off the island's shores. There are many restaurants, pita-diners and taverns, with the tip included in the meal's price, although common courtesy includes a five percent tip left on the table. The big difference between a restaurant and Greek tavern is how the food may be served. In a tavern, you'll share a wide variety of foods called mezedes, that is set up in the middle of the table, so that all diners can reach their favorite foods.