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Castle of Chios | The Timeless Naval Frontier of Byzantine Majesty and Genoese Legacy

Updated: Oct 29, 2023

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George P. Papadellis | SG Head

with some good tips from AI


Situated in the capital city of Chios and adjacent to the main port, the Castle of Chios stands as a majestic medieval citadel steeped in rich history. This formidable fortress, surrounded by a robust stone wall structure and fortified defenses, served as a protective haven for the inhabitants against naval attacks and sieges. Dating back to the Byzantine era, the castle's surviving structures primarily hail from the period of Genoese rule in the 14th to 16th centuries. Join us on an enchanting journey through the Castle of Chios as we explore its layout, history, significant landmarks, and the captivating stories it holds.

Castle of Chios

Chios Castle History

The Castle of Chios occupies a strategic location at the northern side of the city's port, covering an extensive area of 180,000 square meters. Enclosed within its walls is an inhabited area that continues to thrive, with a population of approximately 650 residents. Originally constructed in the 10th century by the Byzantines, the castle witnessed subsequent construction and expansion during the Genoese rule. The Genoese, renowned for their commercial endeavors, left an indelible mark on the castle's architecture and fortifications.


Saint George's Church

Aghiou Georgiou (Saint George's) Church, situated on the main street of the castle, showcases the amalgamation of Byzantine and Genoese influences. Initially built as a Byzantine church in the 10th or 11th century, it later transformed into a Genoese church known as San Domenico. Notably, Giovanni Giustiniani, a prominent figure of the time, found his final resting place here. In the subsequent centuries, the church underwent several transformations, serving as an Ottoman mosque before being reconstructed and resuming its function as a contemporary church of Aghios Georgios.


Ottoman Baths

Within the northern part of the castle area, visitors can discover the Ottoman baths, characterized by their distinctive vaulted roofs. As you enter, the Kria Vrisi tank, a large semi-underground water reservoir, greets you on the right-hand side. This remarkable structure features a roof divided into four quarters by a cross, supported by eight shafts. Its historical significance is recorded in Chian press reports from 1920, detailing the cleaning efforts undertaken by the Mayor of Chios and architect Dim. Tselepidis. The water was originally pumped through an elevated arcade and later through a cistern in the southeast corner. Professor Char. Bouras has extensively studied and documented this fascinating tank.

Old Ottoman Baths  |  Shiny Greece

Old Ottoman Baths | Photo by: George Ntekas, Othomanika Loutra, Kastro Chiou, cropped by Shiny Greece, CC BY-SA 4.0


Guardians of the Past

The Castle of Chios presents an awe-inspiring sight from its exterior, boasting massive stone walls meticulously designed to ward off enemy raids and sieges. Its irregular pentagon shape, with the northeast side touching the sea, is a testament to its strategic positioning. While the moat surrounding the castle has been filled in modern times, the remnants of its former defense system are still evident. Towering bastions dot the walls, with eight out of the original nine preserved to this day. The southern Central Gate, reconstructed by the Venetians in 1694, serves as the entrance to the castle. Within the castle, notable structures await exploration. The Ioustiniani Palace, a 15th-century building that has undergone recent renovation, now serves as an exhibition space, showcasing Chios' rich history. Visitors can also discover the prison, where the tomb of Kara Alis can be found. Other significant landmarks include the Krya Vrysi, a subterranean water cistern from the Genoese period, and the enigmatic tower known as "Kulas." These remnants of the past provide invaluable insights into the castle's historical significance.

Castle of Chios Entrance  |  Shiny Greece

Castle of Chios Entrance | Photo by: Flioukas, Kastro Chiou Eisodos, CC BY-SA 4.0


An Indomitable Spirit

The Castle of Chios, also known as "Frourio" (Fortress), stands as a living testament to the island's captivating history. While it suffered damage from various sources over the centuries, it continues to enthrall visitors with its remarkable architecture, fortifications, and landmarks. Exploring the narrow streets, storied buildings, and ancient monuments within the castle's walls offers a unique opportunity to embark on a journey through time. As you immerse yourself in the Castle of Chios, you'll discover the indomitable spirit of those who sought refuge within its protective embrace, leaving an enduring legacy that echoes to this day.


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