Chios ~ The fragrant island

Castle of Chios

The Castle of Chios, also known as "Frourio" (Fortress) is located north of the Chios city center. It is one of the main attractions of the island and an integral part of the city from both a geographical and a historical perspective. That is why it still consists of an inhabited area to this day, being a living part of Chios city.

The current state of the Castle is the result of many reinforcements, repairs, but also demolitions and natural disasters. While the original structure was Byzantine (9th-10th century), the current castle bares more resemblance to the fortress of the Genoese period (14th-16th century). Unfortunately, it suffered extensive damage because of bombings (1828), earthquakes (1881 and 1949) and the German occupation (1941-1944), when part of the building material was used for grain grinding. Moreover, in the early 20th century, the southern wall was completely demolished in order for the port of Chios to be constructed, completely changing the Castle 's outline.

From the outside, the huge stonewalls, designed to protect against enemy raids and sieges, form a non-regular pentagon. The north-east side is washed by the sea. In the old times, a wide moat surrounded the walls, contributing to a better defense. Today, the moat has been filled. There are also huge bastions (towers) across the walls. Eight out of the original nine of them are saved. There were three entrances to the Castle, the Main Gate ("Porta Maggiore"), the West Gate ("Pano Portello") and the Sea Portal ("Porta di Marina"). The last of them is not saved to this day.

Chios Castle encloses a population of about 2000 people, but also many monuments of various ages, which are the connecting links of its history to our days. The main characteristics of the settlement are the narrow storey houses with the small wooden balconies and the narrow streets.

Some of the notable buildings - monuments inside the castle are these: Justiniani Palace (3-floor building of the 15th century, which was the headquarters of the Genoese Podesta and now operates as an exhibition space), the Dark Prison ("Skotini Fylaki") (in 1822, 74 notables of Chios were imprisoned here by Turks), the Ottoman Cemetery, the Apollo place (renovated former hotel), the Bairakli Mosque, the Orthodox Church of St. George (Agios Gheorgios) (in the courtyard, you can find "Medreses", an Ottoman seminary, and the fountain used by Islamists), the Koulas tower (its original use and build date are not yet found) and "Krya Vrysi" (Cold water spring) (underground cistern of Byzantine period, now a declared a historical monument).

Obviously, Chios Castle is one of the most important monuments of the island. By walking on its narrow streets and by discovering the attractions it encloses, the visitor enjoys a dreamlike journey throuth time and through the island's history.


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