If you are looking for an island escape that is teeming with rich culture and history, then look no further than Chios.
The fifth largest of the Greek islands, Chios is nicknamed the “Mastic Island” as it is famous for its cultivation and production of mastic, an aromatic resin that exudes from the bark of the Pistacia lentiscus tree. In Greece, mastic is known as the “tears of Chios” as it emerges in tear-shaped droplets before drying into small pieces of resin.
The resin is brittle and translucent at first, but it softens and becomes opaque when chewed. Although the flavor is rather bitter at first, it eventually releases a refreshing and pine-like flavor. Mastic is used to make varnish, chewing gum, and flavoring.
Chios is also renowned as the home of the 11th-century monastery Nea Moni, which is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Built by Byzantine emperor Constantine IX Monomachos, the monastery is an incredibly popular tourist attraction these days.
Nea Moni is particularly well-known for its mosaics, which experts consider some of the finest examples of Macedonian Renaissance art in Greece. The monastery also contains a macabre collection of human skulls.
Lastly, a trip to Chios wouldn’t be complete without a tour of the largest mastic village called Pyrgi. Pyrgi is also known as the “painted village” because of the unique decorations on the houses. Almost all of the houses are covered in beautiful black and white geometric motifs, giving the village an exceedingly distinctive and whimsical appearance.
And of course, like the other Greek islands, Chios is also home to many magnificent beaches, giving travelers the chance to unwind after immersing themselves in the fascinating culture and history of the island.