The pebbled courtyards of Chios: An art gallery under your feet

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Chios has been characterized “Myrovolos” (fragrant) due to the characteristic scents of the gardens, especially in the area of Kampos. Apart from the wonderful fragrances, the gardens and the yards of Chios offer a unique sight, part of which is the elaborate pebbled flooring, called “votsaloto” by the locals, made by black and white pebbles that create complex patterns and look like luxury carpets.

 

The construction of a pebbled yard requires craftsmanship and hard work. There must be a design and then skilled workers to work on it. The craftsmen use river and sea pebbles that stand upright next to each other on fresh cement that has been laid on hard ground. In order to complete a square meter, four workers need to work at least three hours, who of course should have worked before in order to collect the pebbles, allocate them according to color and size and prepare the floor. For this reason, the pebbled yards were always considered a luxury. Nowadays it is no longer possible to take pebbles from the beaches and such constructions are made only with industrial materials.

 

The colors are mainly white and black, the motifs linear, but you will also find patterns such as flowers, pots, birds and animals, boats and anchors. In many courtyards, you will find the date of construction, messages such as "ΧΑΙΡΕΤΕ" (welcome) at the entrance, or even the owner's initials, all written with pebbles.In Chios you will have the chance to admire many beautiful and pebbled yards. In Chios town you can visit the yards of the Cathedral (made in 1895), the Korais Library, the 11th Primary School and the University of the Aegean.

 

In Vrontados you should visit the yards of the following churches: Panagia Erithiani(1892), Panagia Moutsaina, Agios Isidoros and Agios Kirikos.In Kampos area, most of the mansions and churches have enchanting pebbled yards. While taking a walk around, most of the owners of the mansions and the hostels always have the good will to open their doors to the visitors. The churches of Panagia Syriotissa, Agios Polykarpos and Panagia Agiodektini, are especially worth visiting as well as hostels such as Mavrokordatiko and Perleas and of course the “Citrus Estate”. Finally, in South Chios, visit the Taxiarchis church at Mesta, to admire the oldest courtyard dating back to 1827.

 

Tip: In the bookstores of Chios you can find the book “The pebbled courtyards of Chios”, a very valuable survey both in Greek and English, written by the chian architect Maria Xyda.

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Kampos, a paradise for runners

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Those who choose running as a workout have the convenience of exercising wherever they are, and of course on their holidays, since this is the most appropriate and easiest exercise that one can do, that also offers mental uplift in addition to body training. But when one runs at Kampos, the enjoyment of running takes a whole different dimension.

Kampos of Chios is a plain, stretching along the eastern coast of the island, 10 km long and 2 km wide. The whole area is a sightseeing spot and it is protected by the Greek Ministry of Culture as a historical site and a traditional settlement. The natural landscape and the remarkable architecture that combines elements from the Genoese and the modern neoclassic cultural heritage of the island, the narrow, quiet and tangled streets between the citrus orchards and the imposing mansions with the high walls, make Kampos an ideal place for running. The area offers a wide range of running routes without elevation, ideal for those looking for large asphalt tracks. If someone wants to run uphill, there is also this option that will lead him to the highest points around Kampos, which offer a unique view of the area.

Running lovers will find the paths of their dreams in Kampos. Clean environment, with unexpected citrus smells emerging from the orchards and calm, as there are not many cars in the area.

The mansions with the arched doors and windows, the walls and the elaborate garden doors will make the runners want to run more and more in order to admire them all. There are many route choices and all you need is good music and the right stretches for a memorable run.

Tip: Every year, a semi marathon race of 21 km is organized in Kampos, a unique route crossing citrus fruit gardens. The event takes place at the end of the summer and this year is scheduled for Sunday 1st of September. There is also a choice for running or walking on a 10 or 5 km route. For more information and participation, visit: http://www.chiosrunning.gr/en/ 

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Contact: Regional Unit Of Chios Department of Tourism | Phone numbers: 0030 22713-50514 & 0030 22713-50516 | FAX: 0030 22713-50517 | Emailtourismos@chios.pvaigaiou.gov.gr