The southern part of Chios is for the visitor of the island a completely special experience. Low hills, covered with the famous mastic trees and the age-old olive trees create a beautiful landscape, accompanied by the wonderful aroma of mastic resin. with special fortification architecture and a special local color that will enchant. Beautiful beaches, great religious pilgrimages, ancient and medieval monuments complete this unique place in beauty and history of Chios.
Armolia is a mastic village with a tradition in ceramics, as evidenced by the outdoor exhibitions of local workshops at the entrance of the settlement. Walk through their arched streets and stand for a refreshment or coffee on the beautiful plateau with bougainvillea and stone living rooms. In this magnificent square are the united churches of Panagia and Agios Dimitrios with a wood-carved iconostasis of 1744. Outside the settlement is the Monastery of Panagia Bretousaina, an important spiritual center of the area, which was destroyed in 1822 but renovated in 1828.
Pyrgi is the largest of the Mastic villages, about 7.5 km from Emporio.Maintaining the authentic labyrinthine urban layout of the fortified settlement, Pyrgi will charm you. Follow the narrow arched streets that lead to the square. If you are there in summer, you will see the famous tomatoes hanging on the balconies.
The faces of the houses will impress you. A variety of black and white geometric shapes are combined, creating a different look in each case and giving life to the narrow streets. The construction technique is based on scratching the coating for this and these representations are called scratches.
Pyrgi has at least 50 churches. Be sure to visit the Byzantine church of Agios Apostolos in the central square of the settlement, at the end of a covered portico. attributed to the Domestic Hunter from Crete. A little closer to Agios Apostolos, is the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, with its face covered with scratches. Also in the area of Pyrgio is the monastery of Agios Georgios, built in the 190th century and decorated with the famous scratches.
Very close to the central square of the village is the Genoese tower, from where the Tower took its name. Although the tower in Pyrgi is damaged, it always remains imposing. It was three-storey and there were no openings on the ground floor. Access was by escalators. At the four corners of the wall, there was a circular turret.
West of Pyrgi is the fortified village of Olympi, smaller but equally impressive. Go through the heavy iron gate and wander its narrow streets. In the central plateau of the settlement, you can cool off in the cafe, which is part of the renovated tower today. The locals talk about a mural of Theofilos on the wall of a house, which has now disappeared from decay. Also, in the village square is the church of Agia Paraskevi with a wood-carved iconostasis of the 18th century, while the building of the old girls’ school is one of the most beautiful in the settlement. And here they celebrate in a special way the Carnival that is revived as in Mesta the custom of Aga. On July 22, the feast of St. Markella, a large number of believers flock to the small church, where, according to tradition, the head of the beheaded saint was found carried away by the waves. On the road to Kato Fana, turning right towards Agia Dynami, you will see the cave of Sykia, which was first explored in 1985 by the Hellenic Speleological Society. The cave has a depth of 57m. and particularly rich in decoration of stalagmites and stalactites, is one of the most beautiful and most interesting caves in Greece.
After Olympoi, continuing to the west, we reach Mesta, the best preserved of all the medieval settlements of Chios. In Mesta it is worth touring the settlement and getting to know the way of life of its inhabitants, you can even stay in one of the restored old houses. Wander around its labyrinthine streets with the <covered> and sit in the small square with the cafes and taverns. Notice in particular the complex defense system of the settlement. Visit the church of Palio Taxiarchis, whose iconostasis was made in 1833 and is a rare example of local wood carving. Also of interest is the church of Megalos Taxiarchis in the square, one of the largest churches on the island. Many cultural events take place in Mesta and old customs are revived. Depending on the season, you can watch or even participate in the custom of Aga at Halloween and Fanos at Easter. The Feast of the Expatriate Mestousi and the Feast of the Fishermen take place from 10-17 August, at the peak of the tourist season. It is worth trying the local products such as mastic, Mestous wine, suma and dates. From Mesta you can also visit some of the most beautiful beaches of the island such as Trachilia, Salagona and Merikounta.
A little further, after a wonderful route, Vessa stands out. This beautiful mastic village creates a charming setting between the hills. In Vessa, the old and the modern coexist harmoniously, while the sights of the village include the churches of Agios Dimitrios and the Assumption of the Virgin.