Agios Giannis - Agio Galas
Location: Northwestern Chios
Type: Hiking on mountain footpath
Degree of difficulty: 1 - Easy
Length of route: 2.540 m.
Time: About 45 min.
Drinking water along the way: Yes
Max. / Min. elevation: 400 m / 230 m
Difference in elevation: 160 m.
Suggested starting point: Agios Giannis
Natural environment: Typical arid land in Amani, with low vegetation, Spanish broom (Spartium junceum) and oaks.
Agios Giannis - Agio Galas
It is suggested to start out from Agios Giannis in order to to take advantage of the smooth downhill path to Agio Galas and have time to see the points of interest at the end of the trail.
The abandoned settlement of Agios Giannis is accessible by car on the passable unpaved road that begins about one and a half km. after Agio Galas on the way to Nenitouria.
At our starting point in Agios Giannis stands a huge oak tree near which there is a resting area.
Two short dead-end footpaths begin from this point, one leads to the observatory where water springs from the base of a plane-tree, and the other leads through the abandoned houses of the settlement to the Church of Agios Giannis. In order to continue, we must return to the resting area, where we take an unpaved road that intersects with a footpath.
s we continue along the footpath, we come to another unpaved road that leads to the chapel of Agios Spyridon to the left and to Agio Galas to the right. The unpaved road becomes a footpath on reaching a viewpoint with a wooden gazebo. From there we have an unimpeded view of Agio Galas, the Aegean and Psara. To our right, opposite the torrent bed, is the peculiar rock formation known as “Buddha’s Precipice.”
The footpath is easy to distinguish and negotiate: it slopes down gradually through old fields, once planted with grain but no longer cultivated. Distinctive features are the four threshing floors still visible along the way. From here up to the entrance to Agio Galas and the Church of Agia Varvara the path is stone paved. When we reach Agio Galas, we walk through its narrow streets, following the signs, our final destination being the chapel of Agios Thalelaios, which was also the first name of the village. Next we can walk down to Panagia Agiogaloussaina (to get into the church, we will need to ask the villagers for the key) and finally the Agio Galas cave.
Agios Giannis: An abandoned village on the side of Mt. Amani. The setting is idyllic and offers an unimpeded view of the Aegean and stupendous sunsets. The houses, now falling into ruin, are characteristic of the use of local materials in the architecture of the area’s small, humble villages. The ground floor in the two-storey houses was used as a stable or storeroom. The upper floors were reached by an outside staircase leading to the balcony. Inside there were usually two rooms. Remains of the fireplaces can be seen, along with the thick tree trunks, in the middle of the rooms, that held up the roof. The village has been abandoned since around 1960.
Agio Galas: The most remote village of Chios, built on a small hill that ends in a sheer cliff on the seaward side. This location made the village secure from pirate invasions. A watchtower functioned in the village.
The cave: The cave of Agio Galas is made up of a complex of three caves. At the entrance to the middle cave stands the chapel of Panagia Agiogaloussaina. Inside the mouth of the cave we encounter the chapel of Agia Anna. Opposite the entrance is a rock from which white stalactite drip-water drops and looks like milk due to its limestone origin. According to the myth that gave to village its name, this liquid is considered to have healing properties. The lowest and biggest cave includes a 220-meter-long winding corridor adorned with stalactites and stalagmites. It is striking for its size and the number of chambers. It is one of the most important caves of Greece from an archaeological standpoint: traces of habitation have been found in its interior from early Neolithic times, i.e. around 6000 BC. The finds (clay pots, stone and bone tools and figurines) are on display in the Chios Archaeological Museum. The cave’s well-lit visitable space stretches to a length of 250 m. with many twists and turns.
Panagia Agiogaloussaina: A small Byzantine church with a dome, built in the 13th century. It literally hangs from the rocks at the entrance to the cave. Inside we can see the impressive carved wooden altar screen and the rich frescoes which once covered the entire church.
The chapel of Agios Thalelaios: A small church, older than Panagia Agiogaloussaina, with a carved wooden altar screen well worth seeing.
Alternative routes or means
Due to the morphology of the path, it is not possible to use any other means such as mountain bike, since there are steps or abrupt turns in the path at certain places.
The unpaved road to Agios Giannis can be used as an alternative or circular route.