East Islands-Hios

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General Information for Hios

Hios Hios, claims Homer as her native son and, according to mythology, it is the most likely and widely accepted birth place. Christopher Colombus was captivated by her beauty and the intoxicating aroma of masticha (mastic, a yellowish resin, which you can smell everywhere and it is the only place that produces it). Hios lies near the shores of the Turkish coast south of Lesvos and north of Samos and Ikaria. It is the fifth largest island in Greece with beautiful sandy beaches, medieval and traditional villages, archeological sites, famous monasteries and very long history. The capital and harbor of the island, also called Hios is very touristy. The many old buildings indicate its commercial, cultural, intellectual life and glorious past. The castle, located at the north end of the city, played a significant role protecting the island from invaders in Medieval, Byzantine and early Modern history. The original structure (10th c.) was Byzantine, its present configuration represents many additions, annexes and repairs. In the interior there is the tomb of Kara Ali, who had ordered the Massacre of Hios and who was punished by Admiral Kanaris who blew up his flagship.

Some places to be visited: Homer's Intellectual Centre (tel.: 22710 44391) where many exhibits and other activities take place; Municipal Garden; Koraes Library (tel.: 22710 44246) one of the most significant in Greece, the Gallery next to the Library; the Archaeological Museum (tel.: 22710 44239) with one of the most important items being a stele (pillar) with an inscription-letter of Alexander the Great (332 B.C.); the Ethnological and Folklore Museum, housed at the Koraes Library and the Byzantine Museum (tel:22710 26866). Do not miss the mastic-trees inseminated on the hills of Kalamoti, the famous Mastihohoria (Notiohora) and many other places throughout the island. Other villages and shores that will please you are: Vrodathos (2 ½ miles) a flat verdant area, continuation of the capital where you see the windmills. Thaskalopetra (or Homer's Rock) where, according to tradition, Homer taught. The view is impressive. You swim at: the beach of Vrodathos, the Lo Bay and at the Thaskalopetra.Thymiata (5 miles) known for its quarries and the local stone, with which most houses are built. Swim at: the shore of Karfas; Kontafi Aghia Ermioni; Aghia Fotini. Nea Moni (8 miles) where on top of the mountain, Aetos (Eagle) Nea Mone (the New Monastery) - one of the most significant Byzantine monuments - is located. Nenitas (12 miles) one of the oldest mastic-tree villages, built at the edge of a fertile mesa.

The monasstery of Sts Taksiarhes has a guest house (tel.: 61469). Swim at: the Waterfall (Kataraktis) Beach; Vakaria and Grithia. Pyrgi (15½ miles) an idyllic - known as picture-perfect village, with geometrically shaped greenish-white houses. The art, imported from Italy during the Frankish period was carried out by specially trained technicians. The settlement took its name from the large castle (pyrgos), standing in the midst of many narrow streets. Swim at: Mavra Volia; Vroulithia; Phana Salaghona and Karinta. Other settlements and lovely shores, further away from Hios Town, await to offer you enjoyment and relaxation. Shop for all kinds of fragrant mastic, ouzo, liqueaur, aromatic herbs, embroidery and various woven items. Various water sports: sailing, water polo, sea-biking, canoeing at Karfas, Kalamoti, Lithi, Meghas Limenas and Aghia Fotini, where equipment could be rented. If you have a vessel at your disposal, tour the island and visit the surrounding isles, an incredible experience to be treasured. If mountain-climbing is your thing, try Mount Pelenaeo. Climb to the summit of Prophet Elias from the villages: Spartounta, Kambia and Viki.