Pyrgi: A little story

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Pyrgi is located 25 Km south of the town of Chios. The entire village is one of the areas which still stands as it was built. The narrow roads, the innumerable churches, and amongst them the 13th century Byzantine church of St. Apostles in combination with the unique black and white geometrical decor of the outer walls of the houses. -The “xysta” -are the things which enchant the visitor.
It has been designated a listed monument. It keeps its houses tied tightly together in what seems like a closed and compact form. The streets are cobbled and narrow. This type of fortress, a four-cornered structure, was built for protection against the frequent attacks by pirates and Turks, as well as for better cultivation of the mastic bush. It lies in small, treeless valleys far from the sea. The gray houses had doors and windows that faced only the interior of the wall, that is, inside the village. The outer walls contained adjoining parapets with small towers at the corners and only one gate. The inhabitants could enter and leave the village only through a door which can be found today at the location Kato Porta.

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At the center of Pyrgi rises the defence tower, where the inhabitants took refuge in the case of attack, using a movable bridge. The streets are narrow, stone-paved, and are connected to the central tower square. At frequent intervals there are transverse archways supporting the structures, as well as vaults and arches supporting the rooms. The functional character of the houses was geared to defence, and thus the inhabitants were able to move about the roofs without being seen. The four-sided shape of these houses, their thick structure, the defence system, the small areas for general use, and their relation to the treeless, natural surroundings, convince us that Pyrgi was built on a fixed plan which may have been imposed by the Genoese.

At Pyrgi, one sees scraped designs called Xysta on the facades of the houses. This is a technique of hand-engraving geometric motifs in black and white on plaster. It is based on plastering-sand being applied to the wall, carefully painted white, then scraped with the designs. These Xysta, reminiscent of the Italian Sgraffito, a form of decoration which stems from Genoa, has made the Pyrgi unique.

Where to Stay:

For accommodation options in the village of Pyrgi, see the accommodation section of the website.

Point of interest (what to see, what to do in Pyrgi):

The St. Apostles church after a narrow arched gallery starting at the north-eastern corner of the central square.
The Central church of the village dedicated to the Assumption of Holy Mother.

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Photo: Melvyn Longhurst

A walk around the narrow streets and alleys of the village is heartily recommended.
The house of Christofer Colombus
Take part at Mastiha cultivation, a unique activity recently inscripted to the Unesco’s list of intagible heritage of humanity

Photo Gallery
Aerial video of Pyrgi village, Chios