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Chios has the best-preserved medieval defence networks in the Mediterranean (castles and towers, watchtowers, fortified settlements). It is a remarkable preservation of the defence system, similar to those of other parts of the Mediterranean, with byzantine and Genovese elements.

The island’s medieval past is marked in the monuments of the Byzantine, Genoese and Venetian period that were salvaged both in town and in the villages. The island’s key Eastern Mediterranean position, from a geopolitical standpoint, resulted in it acquiring such significance during the Byzantine Empire (seat of the Naval Administrative Region of the Aegean). It also caused competitiveness amongst the Genoese and Venetians who tried to conquer it.

The medieval period comes to life in the island’s numerous castles and towers, which needed to be fortified and defended against pirates, invaders and aspiring conquerors.

More specifically, during the years of the Genoese Domination (1346-1566), fortified settlements were built in the villages in the south of Chios, where mastic is produced (Mastichochoria), in order to defend against external invasion, but also with the aim to control the work force. It is remarkable that to this day the Castle of Chios as well as the medieval fortress villages are inhabited.

These are circular towers built on the island’s capes in order to monitor the sea.

Watchtowers open for visit are those located in:

  • Agia Eleni (Karfas)
  • Pachi (Sidirounta)
  • Mesta
  • Trachili (Lithi)

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