Chios is situated in the eastern Aegean and is Greece’s fifth largest island. It prospered in antiquity, primarily as an exporter of its famed wines. The Byzantine era adorned Chios with numerous churches, as well as the renowned Nea Moni monastery with its exquisite mosaics. From 1346 to 1566, Chios was occupied by the Genoese, who were principally interested in the island’s famous mastic, a resin extracted from the lentisk trees that grow only in the south of the island. It was at this time that the mastic-producing villages were given their characteristic fortress-like structure. Under Ottoman rule, mastic became an imperial monopoly and Chios enjoyed a privileged status. The island would, however, pay dearly for its participation in the Greek War of Independence, with the massacre of Chios (1822). Liberation came only much later with the Balkan Wars (1912). Today, Chios continues its rich agricultural tradition, producing top quality citrus fruit, wines, olive oil and, of course, the unique mastic, while the island’s natural beauties, historical monuments and traditional architecture make it an appealing tourist destination.
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