The History of the Village

pityos 1928

Pityos in the 20th and the 21st century

The years following Chios and Pityos liberation were highlighted by some additional significant incidents:

During the wars that came on, the village paid its own blood toll:  In 1913, in the Second Balkan War, Stylianos Leovaris, a soldier from the village, was killed in the battle of Kilkis. During the First World War, in 1916, Elias Stasis was killed on the Macedonian frontier. During the Asia Minor campaign (1919-1922), Apostolis M. Petros, Kostalas Mar. Georgios and Mitros Dim. Georgios (an Asia Minor refugee who lived in Pityos since 1914), were also killed.

Two times, in 1914 and 1922-23, Pityos, like the rest of Chios, received refugees from the coasts of Asia Minor for permanent settlement.

In the second half of the 1910s, Pityos, and all the neighbouring villages on the north likewise, were shaken by the case of the fugitive Giorgis Petikas, who was the first and only "Jessie James" in the modern history of Chios. For many years, with the tolerance of the shepherds and villagers of the area, Petikas used the wider area of Pelinnaio and Mount Oros as his hideaway and refuge; they protected him as he was wanted for a "crime of honour" he committed, murdering the man who married his beloved in Amades.

The arrival of the refugees led to a large increase in the population of the village, which numbered about 550-600 residents during the interwar period.

In 1924, Giorgos Chloros from Pityos founded the football refugee squad Mikrasiatiki FC, as he was the first native Chian to get involved in the sport that was already flourishing in Izmir by the end of the 19th century, with teams like Panionios FC and Apollon Smyrna FC, and actually the island got familiar to it by the refugees. (see

In 1925, people from Pityos who had migrated abroad donated the amount needed to build the school of the village. In the 1930s, during the government of Venizelos, the first phase of Chios-Agios Isidoros Road was constructed thus connecting Pityos with the city. A few years later, its extension was built towards Volissos and Amani. Dozens of villagers will find work in the large construction site that was built for over two years in the deserted valley of Agios Isidoros. At the same time, at that site, the refugee Kourounis family built the famous cafe-brewery and meeting point for all voyagers and lodgers of Northern Chios heading to and from the city.

In the 1930s, local and travelling resin growers began the systematic exploitation of pine forest resin in the area named Retsinadika, which is situated between Pityos and Katavasi. During the war the production was temporarily halted, and it started again in the first post-war years. At that period rental contracts were initiated, between the two local communities on the one hand, and the resin farmers from Prokopi, Pili, Vlachia and other villages of North Evia, and on the other.  Every year the latter would set up temporary shelters in that forest area.

During the Second World War, over 40 Pityans participated in the Greco-Italian war and two of them, Giorgos Ant. Liovaris and Dimitris Kyr. Haviaros were killed.

During the German occupation, there was no special activity in the village besides that members of Chios Resistance helped some New Zealand soldiers (of the ANZAC forces) to escape as they had been trapped in mainland Greece in 1941 when the front collapsed. They came to Chios by boat, reached the western shores of the island and then passed by Agios Isidoros area where the Kourounis family helped them to move to the eastern shores, and from there to Cesme, in Turkey that remained neutral (see Nikos G. Kourounis, Events & Memories of a Life, published by ALPHA PI, Chios 2020, pp. 85-86).

During the Occupation, the famine hardly affected the almost self-sufficient, at that time, cattle-raising village. Instead, the Pityan shepherds are ultimately those who provided the neighbouring settlement of Kardamyla and the Chora (the city) with the necessary supplies and goods, as the seafaring and trading population in those areas suffered due to the embargo that was taking place during the war.

In general, the tragic events of the Civil War would not directly affect the village, although there were some notable instances on the border of its meadows, such as the skirmish in neighbouring Kydianta and the ambuscade at Achlada in Aipos (early 1948); in both cases the conflicts extended up to the Pityan pastures. Nevertheless, these events contributed to the desolation of neighbouring Kydianta after the war (see Yannis Priovolos, Evidence from the Margins of History: Testimonies of Chios in the 20th Century, ed. Aigeas 2009, pp. 152-170).

After the war, the earthquake of 1949 will hit North Chios, together with Pityos. That is when the Byzantine church of Panagia Spiliotina was destroyed, to be demolished after a few years, and the Byzantine church of Saint Dimitrios of the Castle was seriously damaged. The school also suffered great damage.  The building was not used until the end of the 20th century when it was restored and now functions as a hostel. A new school building was then erected at the west side of the current parking lot.

The internal and external migration and the massive shift of the Pityans to seafaring – there are dozens of first and second captains from Pityos, as well as many senior crew members in the overseas commercial shipping industry – was the final blow to the structure of the population and to the mainly rural character of the village. Consequently, from 550 inhabitants and 15,000 sheep and goats in the 1950s, nowadays the village is left with 40 permanent residents with an average of over 60 years old and no more than 500 sheep and goats.

This desertification could not be prevented neither by the arrival of electricity and the telephone in the village (in the 1950s), nor by the construction of the new Pityos - Kardamyla road at the same period, or by the continuous efforts to solve the water supply - drainage problem by every community and municipal authorities, nor by the construction of the military base in Agios Isidoros after the events of 1974 (and the consequent flow of soldiers and visitors to the village), nor even by the inauguration of the Agricultural Clinic donated by Antonios Chloros in the early 2000.

Greece's entry into the European Economic Community (EEC) marked a period of agricultural reformation that maintaining traditional animal farming became unprofitable. Resin cultivation in the forest of Pityos was also abandoned being economically unbeneficial (1976), and, from 1980 onwards, the abandoned forest suffered the effects of fire numerous times. Inevitably, in June 1988, the school bell rang for the last time.

On the contrary, throughout the last decades, Pityos, Aipos and the wider area of Northeast Chios have received pressure, so far unsuccessfully, from the central authority, for a series of "annoying" Pharaonic investments, intended to be located in the wider area.  Such installations, objectively and regardless of intentions, would degrade the environmental, traditional, historical origins of the region, with doubtful or unimportant benefits in return.

Some related examples include the plans that are drawn up from time to time, for the installation of polluting infrastructures such as the landfill (Sanitary Waste Landfill) of Chios or plans for huge Industrial Renewable Energy Production parks - formerly Wind Turbines, more recently Photovoltaics. Or finally, plans for large housing structures that the central authority does not want near the urban centres, such as a new prison, or closed structure of the Pre-Repatriation Detention Centre for Foreigners/refugees.

Regarding the construction of the latter, in February 2020, long, rigid street battles took place in the stony terrain of Aipos, between the residents and the riot police forces: from the intersection of Agios Isidoros of Pityos to the 18th kilometre, and from there to the first turns of Aipos in Vrontados area. As a result, the riot police forces withdrew, and the specific plan was abandoned. Again, that was a sign of the region's timelessly untamed and distinctive character.

The reinforcement and revitalization of the social and economic life of the area using a new, fresh context that is combining tradition and sustainability to prevent the complete desertification of the settlement is the current pole of many new entrepreneurs and residents of the village, who in 2020 founded the Social Cooperative Enterprise "Pityos Proorismos” (Pityos Destination).

Lieutenant Plastiras

The liberation of Pityos in 1912

The events of the liberation of Pityos in 1912

November 11, 1912! A day of remembrance and celebration for the liberation of Chios! However, Pityos had to wait for another 40 days!

“…. After March 1912, when the Italians bombed the Turkish Telegraph station in Asia Minor, opposite of Chios, the Turks began to worry about the future occupation of the island and reinforced their garrisons. Upon reaching Pityos, Zichni Bey, the Commander of the Turkish Army, established his presence and stationed guard posts on the hills surrounding the village. The village’s churches and numerous houses were repurposed as storage facilities for the Turkish forces.”

“The Turkish hospital, housing the entire occupying army, was also in Pityos, located in the houses of Frangos and Katsaros. In addition to the village, they had supplies in Amethounta (altitude 1050 m). In October 1912, they connected Pityos via Flori, Engisha, Agios Markos, Agioi Pateres by telephone. Throughout October, Zichni Bey stayed in Pityos to organise its defence. Zichni Bey, always being polite to the villagers, left Pityos in early November. Saying goodbye to the locals, he stated, “Be well, now you will become Greeks…” (from the accounts of Pityos residents and eyewitnesses of the battles, Giannis Giannomoros and Dimitros Kazilas, cited in the newspaper “Proodos” in February 1952, as referenced by Georgos Heilas in “Pityos – History of my village,” pages 35-36, Athens 1989).

Pityos would remain occupied by the Turkish army until the early hours of December 21, 1912, when the last Turkish soldiers, under Lieutenant Abbas, surrendered to the squad of the warrant officer Stavridis, who had broken the last line of defence at Karfotos, on the borders of Pityos – Kardamyla, while Zichni Bey had already surrendered in Karyes a few hours earlier.

The Pityans, located at the center of Turkish power, did not proceed to form an armed resistance group – that would have been suicidal. However, to dispel suspicions that they did not participate in the national struggle, three villagers, Panagiotis Mithri Kritoulis, Pantelis Mavrianos, and George Apostolis (Giorgaras), acting on the orders of the Greek army command and pretending to be shepherds going to their flocks in order to break through the Turkish military blockades, went at night and cut the telephone cables connecting the Ottoman military administration in Pityos with the outpost of the third Turkish platoon in Achlada of Aipos. In fact, in order to make themselves credible to the Greek military command as to their national feelings, they did not limit themselves to a simple sabotage, but wound and took with them many metres of telephone wire, risking to be noticed by the Ottomans, as they were passing through their lines on their way to get to the Greek forces, with carrying about 6 metres of precious wire.

During this 40-day siege period, the broader area of Aipos and Pityos became the scene of the fiercest land battles of the First Balkan War on an Aegean Island:

  • The first battle of Aipos on November 15, 1912, resulted in 25 Greek dead soldiers and 37 wounded. The first Turkish counterattack took place on the same day, from Karfoto of Pityos towards the Greek positions at the Castle of Gria in Kardamyla. Two Greeks were killed.
  • On December 7 and 8, 1912, a two-day bombardment of the fortified Turks in Pityos was initiated by the Greek fleet off the coast of Kardamyla. 67 large calibre shells fell on the village, miraculously causing no human casualties.
  • From December 19-21, 1912, the Greeks launched attacks from all sides towards Pityos, from Amades and Viki to Amethounta, from Fyta to Oros, and from Lagkada – Kydianta to Koila. The deadliest battle, which would determine the end of the war, took place with the Greek attack from Kardamyla towards Karfoto, the most heavily fortified and equipped Turkish outpost.

These battles would distinguish, for all kinds or reasons, certain officers from both armies.

On the Greek side, some individuals left their mark in history in one way or another:

  • Τhe then First Lieutenant, Ioannis Demestichas: Leading the special forces of the marines, the elite of the Greek expeditionary force, who would raid during the initial phase of the campaign in Aipos. He broke the first line of Turkish defence, surprising them at the Castlelli of Aipos, around today’s Monument. However, Demestichas, a gunpowder-smoked and daring soldier of the Macedonian struggle, overestimated his capabilities and underestimated the opponent, leading his inappropriately dressed (in dark blue uniforms) marines into battle on an open front in the area above today’s Tourist Village of Aipos, where Turkish machine guns at the position of Sellada would halt the Greek attack, resulting in significant losses for the Greeks. A handwritten note was found on a dead Greek soldier’s uniform, stating: “We sacrificed ourselves in vain under Ioannis Demestichas”.

  • The then still unknown young Second Lieutenant Nikolaos Plastiras, who had graduated from the Army Officers School just in June 1912, would be transferred with the reinforcements that the Greek army would send to Chios in late November 1912. Having already experienced battles on the Epirus front during the Balkan Wars, Plastiras would oversee an experienced squad of soldiers and several dozen volunteers from Lagkada, Kydianta, and Sykiada, namely the forces that would advance from Lagkada towards Pityos. His unit received orders for an attack in the final phase of the war, towards the direction of Sarakino, Koila, and Skafi.

  • Warrant Officer Ioannis Staridas, who, along with a squad of corporals, would lead the volunteer corps of Kardamyla, the first to be formed by local forces in Chios. They would establish an armed civil guard and participate in the battles. Staridas managed to instil, within a few days, his military professionalism into the enthusiastic but inexperienced volunteers of Kardamyla, who, under his leadership, would fight decisively in the final battles at Karfoto, Trachonas, and eventually occupy Theotokina and then Spiliotina, where, on December 21, 1912, the last 11 Ottoman officers and 297 soldiers from Pityos and Amethounta would surrender to the Greeks. A handwritten note found on the leader of their medical corps, Lieutenant Abbas, addressed to Staridas, expressed the desire to surrender to him and not to the irregular insurgents or the Cretan guards, whom they feared for reprisals: “To the officer of the Glorious Greek Army, Mr. Staridas, we are all 57 wounded soldiers of the Turkish army, one doctor, and I, the lieutenant for 40 days. We kindly ask you to take us tonight because we are very afraid. Oh dear officer of the Glorious Greek Army, our sincere respect to you. Lieutenant Abbas.” (Cheilas, p. 37).

On the Ottoman side, the following individuals should be mentioned:

  • Lieutenant Colonel Zichni Bey, the last Ottoman military commander of Chios: This aristocrat Ottoman military officer was placed in Chios just a year before the Balkan Wars. He organised the desperate defence of his besieged army, numbering around 2000 men, ensuring the full exploitation of the natural fortress constituted by Aipos and Pellinaio. He distinguished himself for his defensive and organisational abilities, as well as for the gentle way he treated the local inhabitants. The Greek army, respecting his military bravery and courtesy, allowed him to retain his officer’s sword as an honour. He, in turn, reciprocated the kind gesture towards the Greek army with statements made to the Greek newspapers immediately after their surrender. After his release at the end of the Balkan Wars in 1913, he returned to his homeland and a few months later submitted his resignation, as revealed by the Turkish General Staff’s annual report.

  • The capable captain, commander of the 3rd Turkish Company, Hüseyin Hüsnü Aydemir, who repelled the initial Greek attack on November 15 in Aipos: He would be captured along with the rest of the Turkish army, and he stayed for a year in captivity in Kefalonia. During World War I, he distinguished himself on the Eastern Front against the Russians (from whom he would be captured again and find himself exiled in Siberia). He would later fight against the Greeks in the battles of Sakarya river and Bursa. After 1923, he would climb the ranks in the Kemalist military hierarchy and retire as a major general in the 1930s. Recently, his grandson documented the memories of his grandfather’s wartime adventures and published them in a book in Turkey, which extensively mentions the Battle of Chios with hard-to-find documents from the Turkish side. (see


  • “Osa o idios eidon” (As I Myself Saw) by Georgios Choremis, Chios 2002, ALFA PI Publications (from the author’s original manuscript)
  • “Chius Liberata” by Philip Argenti, London 1937
  • Special issues of the Pelinaio magazine, issues 14 & 20, Chios 2000 & 2002

newspaper 1906 fair with ottoman general present

Pityos during the Ottoman Rule

Pityos during the Ottoman Rule - the First Ottoman Period

The unbearable regime of the Genoese and the dominance of the separatist factions will lead to the bloodless transition of Chios to the Ottomans. The Ottomans, acting cleverly, initially adopted a policy of expanded religious tolerance and granted significant privileges to local self-government.

All the castles of Chios, including Pityos, after the retreat of the Crusaders, the definitive dissolution of the Byzantine Empire, and the Ottoman expansion into the Balkans, ceased to play the crucial role they had during the Genoese rule. They remained, of course, as military, and administrative centres. However, unlike the time of the Maona colonial rule, almost all products, except mastic, were under a regime of free trade and circulation, aiming to increase state revenue through taxation, while the Ottoman dominance in the Aegean diminished pirate raids, at least for several centuries and up until 1774, further downgrading the role of the castles.

As part of overall favourable concessions to the local population, with the intermediation of the church and monasteries, Pityos, through a relative agreement with the Nea Moni, gains the right in 1709 to manage a vast area freely and exclusively in Aipos as a grazing area, which it purportedly purchased as a community. According to K. Sgouros, in his work 'History of Chios' (1937), documents in the Monastery's archives record the testimony of a shepherd who states, “...and we had a disagreement with the monastery, and a contract was found stating that the Pityans had bought the places of Harkos of Achlada and the Plakies with its slopes, and with its mountains, we agreed that this place of Harkos of Achlada would be a pasture for the animals of the monastery and of Pityos, and neither the monks of the monastery nor the Pityans could sow it. No one would give tithe, neither the monks of Pityos nor the Pityans, but it would remain fallow. So, it was written on August 12, 1709...”, (quoted in Eugenia Koutsidou, 'Natural Regeneration of Degraded Ecosystems as a Result of the Exclusion of Grazing Pressure - The Case of Northern Chios,' Ph.D. thesis, University of the Aegean, Department of Environment, Mytilene, 1995, p. 38, see link in the National Documentation Center's electronic database:

According to Zolotas, in the 18th century, Pityos acquired an almost exclusively pastoral character, as the last trees of Aipos were cut down around that time. Then, Pityos transformed into an extensive grazing area. It is around this time that the “Synoro” (Greek toponym for “Border”) in Aipos is dated. This is the longest continuous stone wall in the plain, starting from Bampakies, on the border with the grazing area of Anavatos, and after a few kilometres, approximately reaching the 18th kilometre of the current road, at Flori. It is attributed to monks and possibly defined the boundaries between the grazing areas belonging to the Nea Moni (to the east of the wall) and those belonging to the Monastery of Moundon (to the west of the wall).

However, written sources and findings shedding light on the history of Pityos until 1821 are scarce. Only a few names of Pityan monks serving in the Monastery of Moundon have been preserved, as recorded by Chilas: in 1743, Joasaph Maurianos; in 1746, deacon Vassilis, of unknown surname, from Pityos; and in 1750, Ioannis Fekos (Chilas, p. 30). Partially preserved is the diary kept by the second, deacon Vasilis from Pityos, which recounts some interesting events. Excerpts from the diary were published in Chiaka Analekta (Kanellakis, 1890). Among other things, Deacon Vasilis describes a violent tax collection campaign in Pityos in 1719, during which Ottoman tax collectors arrested the elders of the village and tortured the younger ones to collect the required amount. Also, some years of drought are mentioned, such as 1743 and 1746, with the latter year ending in a sudden destructive hailstorm in spring, destroying crops. In 1743, the deacon from Pityos even presents a supernatural event taking place, most likely referring to a solar eclipse: “+ On February 14, 1743, three suns appeared as one to the east, one to the north, and another to the south, and the two had rays as many as the moon; they remained in the sky for a long time and then they were lost” (the original spelling of the text has been preserved).

The following years until the Chios Massacre of 1822 will pass without any archival documents or reported facts having been found so far regarding the history of the village, except for the birth of Georgios Tsopanis, later known as Saint George Chiopolites (of Chios), in 1785. Georgios Tsopanis lived in the village until 1794 when his father entrusted him to the woodcarver Vissetzis to work away from Chios. In the early 19th century, the construction of the two large churches, that of Saint George the Trophy-Bearer and the neighbouring Saint Paraskevi, is believed to have taken place, with the latter bearing a plaque from 1817. The first of the two churches replaced the church of Saint Dimitrios of the tower as the new cathedral of the village.

The three windmills, still standing in ruins to this day, also date back to the same period.

The village of Pityos during the Chios massacre

The most significant witness to the impact the Chios Massacre had on the village is none other than its instigator and executor, the Ottoman commander Vahit Pasha (Mehmed Emin Vahid Paşa). This fundamentalist Alevite commander, belonging to the heresy of the "Nusayri" dervishes, was appointed as the governor of Chios during the Greek Revolution, despite having a bad reputation even among the Ottoman officials. In his memoirs written in 1824 with the eloquent original title in Turkish, "History of the Events of the Punishment of Chios," he writes about the events following the suppression of the Chian uprising in the plains, where they turned their attention to the mountainous villages:

"...A certain monastery in these villages, which had raised the Ottoman flag, gained forgiveness and protection. Subsequently, our soldiers turned towards the village of Pityos, which was renowned for its most notorious rebels. Therefore, these villages did not submit, but only after a bloody battle, in which many of our own were certainly killed, but none of them left a trace of life or property, and their own houses and huts were completely burned, as their inhabitants were beheaded." (see: Events in Chios in 1822, From the Hand of Vahit Pasha, ed. ALPHA PI, Chios 2012, p. 85)

We do not know how the people of Pityos had participated in the uprising and were considered "notorious rebels'', nor do we know exactly how many were killed and how many were saved by escaping earlier. But we do know the exact losses suffered by the Ottomans. According to I. Chaniotis in "Chios in 1822", the reports from English and French newspapers of the time give 2,286 dead Ottoman soldiers in the explosion of Kara Ali’s flagship, 50 dead in the siege of Agios Minas monastery, 100 in the siege of Nea Moni, and 200 dead Ottoman soldiers in the battle of Pityos (Cheilas, p. 28).

I. Giourgalis, in his book "Pispilounta of Chios", recording testimonies from survivors of Pityos finding temporary shelter to the village of Pispilounta, mentions that up to 150 people from Pityos were killed and buried in the tower of Pityos (ibid.). The narration of a Jewish soldier who fought alongside the Ottomans is recorded by Vlahogiannis T.A. in the "Chian Archive" (p. 307), confirming the battle in Pityos and the significant losses of the Ottomans (ibid.).

It seems that in Pityos, all adults who did not leave in time were killed, such as the Holy Martyrs Deacons Georgios Psyrikoulis and Kanaris, and all children were sold in the slave markets of Asia Minor, such as the two young siblings Giannis and Kyriaki Tsilimou, and the women under the names Yulena, Kapirena, and Psyrikoulina, who would be freed years later and returned to the village in old age to recount their stories, which have gone down in history by word of mouth (Cheilas, p. 29). In any case, the resistance of Pityos is the only one recorded in the events surrounding the Chios Μassacre, emphasising once again in the natural stronghold of the village that shaped a distinct and defiant character among its residents, which is unique in Chios.

Several years after the massacre, after an amnesty was granted and Chian people were slowly returning to the island, in 1827, during the unsuccessful expedition of Charles Nicolas Fabvier, Pityos had 55 inhabitants, as indicated by the census of the military corps for food distribution (Cheilas, p. 31).

The last period of Ottoman rule

The revival of social and economic life in Pityos, a few years after the Chios massacre, is highlighted by the reinstatement of animal husbandry as the main activity. In the book by Sgouros “History of Chios” (1937), it is noted that in 1842 the total tax paid by the North Villages to Etem Pasha was ", sheep, offal, candle rights, stalls and brokerages, totaling 35,351 grossia (Ottoman unit of money equivalent to 1/100 of a golden lira by that time)" (Sgouros 1937).

In the 1850s, a few years after the great snowfall and the destructive frost of the winter of 1851, the Ottoman administration constructed the still-existing wide road that connects the town of Chios with Volissos. The opening of the "Turkish" or "Ottoman" road, as it came to be called by the locals, marked a rapid development in the economic life of the region. This road also served the rapid movement needs of military forces and replaced the ancient path of Ellinostrata. In some places, it either overlaps with or runs parallel to it, as seen in several locations, mainly in the forest between Pityos and Katavasi. The "Turkish" road remained the only road to and from Pityos until the 1930s, when the "modern" paved road replaced it, covering it in places or following a parallel course (Cheilas).

In 1863, at the edge of the village, which was continually expanding, the church of Panagia Faneromeni and its cemetery were built. According to the census of 1866, as cited by Cheilas from A. Karavas' book “Topography”, 66 families lived in Pityos, and a few years later it numbered 80 families (N. Mougeri, Patridographia: the Island of Chios, 1880). This means the village had at least 200 to 300 permanent residents. The earthquake of 1881, which was devastating for Southern Chios and the town of Chios, does not seem to have particularly affected Pityos. During this decade, it seems that new buildings were constructed to the south, towards Panagia Faneromeni, as auxiliary spaces, stables, etc. Subsequently, an initial group of migrants departed the village in search of improved prospects elsewhere. Emphasis should be given to the Pityans, who leveraged the strong ties between the local church and the Fener, subsequently departing for Constantinople following their ordination as priests.

Cristoforo Buondelmonti engraving 1415

Medieval Period

The medieval ages are a tumultuous period, during which the island of Chios will undergo more than fifteen small and large invasions. Arabs, Venetians, Seldjuk Turks, Catalans, Franks, Saracens, Knights of Malta, Byzantines, and finally Genoese and Ottoman Turks will invade one after the other, and the island will change hands many times—indicative of its strategically dominant position in the heart of the Aegean and of its rich production.

However, all these invasions, as natural, will destroy and desert cities and villages many times. The hill on which today’s Pityos is located, adjacent to the strategically important harbour of Delphini and controlling the only road leading from the northeast to the southwest of the island, holds an exceptionally important position. The need for fortification is now a matter of life or death.

Byzantine Empire

So, around today’s Pityos, when the Byzantines will temporarily regain Chios, a castle will be built in the location of today’s, initially wooden and of lower height. The castle appears in a golden bull of Michael Palaiologos the 8th in 1259 AC, leaving open the possibility that it might be even earlier.

At the same time (13th century AC), the adjacent church of Saint Dimitrios, located near the castle (of which part of the frescoes from the Late Byzantine Palaiologian period is still preserved), is dated by the Archaeological Service. Also, possibly the destroyed church of Panagia Spiliotina, which was a faithful copy of the New Monastery of Chios of the 11th century, dated back in this same period.

In a nearby area to the current settlement, near Panagia Theotokina, where ruins of an older settlement are preserved, a few decades ago, the villager Dimitris Zygklis (or Karydas) found a quantity of Byzantine coins. This area also appears in a golden bull of Michael Palaiologos as Arogeutos (Ayureutos in the local Pityan dialect). It is referred to as an area where the New Monastery of Chios has 100 acres of cultivable land.

On the nearby slope, near the road to Kardamyla, in an area full of pebbles, a few decades ago, the villager Dimitris Kazilas found a Byzantine metal cross.

A toponym of the Byzantine period that needs further investigation as to its origin is “Galatika.” Does it refer to estates owned by the Byzantine lords Galatides who appear in Izmir in the 11th century? Or perhaps to their descendants who will come to Chios later, during the Ottoman era, in the 17th century? (See Vasilis Agiannidis, “Oi Galates,” Aplotaria 2014,

Another toponym of the period that needs exploration is the one mentioned in the ruins in the pastureland of Aipos: Androlakkos or Andronaktos. Andronaktos was a Byzantine lord of Chios, and the location bearing the same name, on the border of the pastures of Pityos and Anavatos, suggests that he might have had estates in the area. Several family names in Pityos are of Byzantine origin: Kritoulis, Mavrianos, Stasis, Chaviaros, Heilas, Chloros, Houliaris, and others.

Genoese Rule

The Genoese seized the island from the Byzantines in 1346 AD and held it for 220 years. The first thing they did was organise the economy and production of the island, dividing it into zones for the cultivation and storage of products vital to the economy of the colonial cooperative administration, the famous “Maona”.

Recognizing the natural strategic position of Pityos, they chose it as the capital of the “theme” of turpentine oil, the oil derived from the processing of resin, that is, from the tree of terebinth. This oil, when properly refined, was used in shipyards for preserving Genoese ships and in the roofs of houses as a natural waterproofing material. To produce the oil, they established a large laboratory in Pityos, employing 22 workers, which was a significant number for the time.

It was during this period that the old Byzantine castle was transformed into the current tower, with the aim of creating a large storage tank for the precious product on the ground floor.

To organise production and strengthen fortifications, they gathered scattered settlements into the present one and stationed a permanent military garrison. In the excavations for the restoration of the castle in the early 21st century, archaeologists found significant finds, such as Byzantine coins, and also coins from Naples-Italy, and Valencia-Spain, from the 14th and 15th centuries, as well as seals and everyday objects.

The inhabitants were called to live in the village under almost exclusive monopoly production of turpentine oil, the entirety of which, under strict and draconian laws, had to be delivered to the Maona. They were allowed to maintain only small household crops for sustenance.

The neighbourhood of the Castle, starting from the tower and reaching the present old square of Aplada, was enclosed by the external fortification of Kastrotoichos (fragments of it are still preserved in some parts of the village).

Thus, Pityos, in its present location, is a conglomeration of at least 13 smaller settlements, a fact found in other head villages of Chios, such as Pyrgi, Mesta, or Kardamyla. According to G. Zolotas, these settlements were Taxiarchis, Agios Ioannis, Agios Sideros, Agios Dimitrios, Skafi, Vrysidia, Fardy Pigadi, Theotokina, Gemellika, Kritiko, Flori, Remokastro, and Pyromachia. Larger or smaller even more ancient settlements are also noted in Spartina, Eklissidia, Aria, and Palaiopyrgos.

These small settlements indicate mediaeval installations of serfs or residents, essentially “metochia”, which is why in most of them, the name of the church they possessed has been preserved.

Specifically, Theotokina (a name derived from the mediaeval surname Theotokis) is located towards Kardamyla. Gemellika is historically related to the Gemellos family, who initially were in Koila and later moved to Kardamyla and Vrontados, and their descendants still exist there today.

The settlement of Kritiko indicates, according to the Pityans, a Cretan mediaeval settlement, from where also the name Kritikolakkos originated, the name of an area near Pityos. Pyromachia was located between Psira and Andronaktos, towards Agios Sideros, where the ruins of houses and of a church were located.

Additionally, the location of Martinos, near the village, refers to the Latin ruler of Chios, Martino of the Zaccaria family (he governed the island from 1314 to 1329 AD, before the Latin Crusaders being temporarily expelled by the Byzantines).

Finally, Fardy Pigadi is considered the main among the old villages of the area, the last abandoned settlement of which were reached by those who lived in the 19th century. It seems that it might have been the last one abandoned before its inhabitants settled in Pityos. In fact, until a few decades ago, those from Pityos who originated from there were called Fadrypigadousi.

In the Genoese history of the village, a distinct place is certainly held not only by the harsh economic colonial exploitation of the wealth and labour of the villagers but also by the pressure for a shift to Catholicism. Especially during the first period of Genoese rule when Constantinople remained Byzantine, and the rulers of the region and the Orthodox Church were concerned about choosing either union with Papal authority (“unionists”) with the aim of assistance from the Crusaders and the West, or separation (“separatists”) and almost certain submission to the threatening Ottomans in the area.

The incidents of the so-called miracle of Agia Paraskevi in Chios, with the great flood of 1432 that also affected Pityos, in which, according to folk tradition, dozens of villagers and hundreds of drowned goats and sheep in Makelo, may be related to the conflict in the church bays between the two doctrines.

At the same time, the Florentine Franciscan monk, geographer, and traveller Cristoforo Buondelmonti, will depict Pityos on the map of Chios he will draw after his travels to the islands of the Aegean and include it in his work “Liber insularum Archipelagi” (Book about the islands of the Archipelago) in 1420.

A series of surnames of Pityos families date back to the years of the Crusaders and Genoese rule, such as Vergus, Bereta, Frango, Fekos, Fetis, and others, while the widespread surnames Giannomoros and Papamoros are compounds of the Latin “moro,” meaning “dark-skinned.”

remains of old mill


The entire plain of Aipos and the forest to the west of the village have hundreds of scattered agrarian installations with elements dating back to Byzantine, Roman, Hellenistic, Ancient, or even pre-Hellenic period.

The name Pityos itself derives from the ancient Ionian word “Pitys,” meaning pine tree. With the name Pitys, it is recorded in the biography of Homer by Pseudo-Herodotus, the passage of the great ancient poet through the village. It is characteristic that during the time of Ancient Greek colonisation in the Mediterranean and the Black Sea, two other locations would be named in the same way. One is the well-known present-day islands of Ibiza and Formentera, the Ancient “Pityouses Islands,” in the Balearics of Spain. The other is the less-known coastal town called Pitsunda, in the Tauric Colchis, in Abkhazia, Georgia, the ancient “Pityos” of the Black Sea. Both Ionian and Milesian colonies respectively seem to have been founded around the 5th century BCE and bear the same name, Pityos.

Historian Zolotas attributes to the broader area of Pityos in Chios a series of sites with intense archaeological interest. Even to this day, over a century after Zolotas recorded them, most of these areas have not been explored, except for a few exceptions. According to Volume A of his Topography, carved stone wells have been found in the area of “Aria”, dating back to the first inhabitants of Chios, the Pelasgians, around 2000 BCE, and certainly before the Ionian colonisation of Chios in the 11th century BCE. Similarly, the same applies to Remokastro (or Limokastro, or Ellinokastro) next to the ancient agrarian settlement of Spartina. Remokastro and Spartina, in fact, are the only sites that, in the early 1980s, drew the attention of the German Archaeological Service, which, together with the Greek Archaeological Service, conducted the only non-surface excavations in Aipos, confirming the long history of the area, even before classical antiquity.

The invasion of the forces of the tyrant of Miletos, Histiaeus, and the siege of Chios in 494 BCE place areas between Delphini and today’s Pityos, in the positions of Koila and Paleopyrgos Skafis, on the map of ancient history with large and significant fortification works. These, as a recent study by Archaeologist Despina Tsardaka showed, were almost certainly used later during the Peloponnesian War, the Chian resistance to the Athenian Alliance, and the unsuccessful invasion of the Athenians on the island from Delphini. It is very likely that these events also gave rise to the uprisings of the slaves.

Zolotas writes, “In Pityos, we have ancient remains in the positions of Fardy Pigadin, Damalon, Aiyannika, where the so-called Hellenotoichos (Hellenic Wall), a long wall from Kameni Fritza to Ampelovouno, is mentioned… In Antykan (Entykan) and Chalikouryan, there are remains of a building made of large square stones, many of which were transferred for the construction of the village church. In Mytakan, a location towards Koila, large stones of an olive press and other ruins were found, from which the Pyrgoi, once standing there, were mostly built. In Bampakies (towards the border with the pasture of Anavatos), many levelled fields and old wells are visible. Ruins of buildings indicate the existence of an ancient settlement, supported by various old spores. Worth noting there is the smooth field called Bampakies. In Perdikovouno, the position of Kritikou, there are ruins of old buildings where once was found the marble head of a woman, shattered by the shepherd who discovered it.

Zolotas also notes the discovery of ancient wine presses at the location, giving the name “Lenoi,” while also noting the discovery of a significant quantity of coins, 50 silver and 175 bronze, and artefacts in tombs found in Machairopetra of Oros, above today’s Pityos. This discovery probably occurred in the last years of the Ottoman Empire, without any historical or archival record, as some of these artefacts are displayed in the numismatic collection of the Museum of Berlin, as noted by the museum’s Numismatic Journal in INDEX No 1117, stating that they were found in 1885 and date back to 334-332 BCE! (See the newspaper “Chian People” 16/5/1984 and Heilas, pp. 23-25).

The myths of Homer and Drimakos from the 8th and 4th centuries BC, respectively, are not without reason, as they testify to the many scattered place names. Additionally, we know that during the 6th and 5th centuries BC, the bards of Chios, known as the Homerides, were active in the broader area of Northern Chios, serving as continuators and preservers of the Homeric Epics.

Crucial for documenting the ancient history of the village is the existence of the Hellenostrata, an ancient path that begins from the hights above Myrsinidi in Vrontados, branches in Aipos in the area of Fountana, with one branch going north to the villages of Sykiada, Lagkada, and from there to Kydianta and Koila up to Pityos. Another branch comes from Aipos to Flori and from there bifurcates. The southern road leads to Anavatos and central Chios. The western one through the forest leads to Katavasi and Volissos. Locals call it “the path of Homer,” and until the mid-19th century, it was the only communication route, making the area of Pityos a communication hub in Northern Chios. The term “Hellenostrata” (as well as “Hellenotichos”) is likely of Byzantine origin. With the prefix “Helleno-,” Byzantine Christians referred to works or structures of ancient Greek origin. The concept of “Hellenes” was synonymous with “National” and identified the ancient Greeks as pagans.

As for late antiquity, Hellenistic times, Roman, and the early Byzantine years, we do not yet have findings, as comprehensive archaeological research has not been conducted, except for the fact that many of the dry-stone constructions in Aipos seem to date back to those years. Moreover, Remokastro is mentioned to have functioned as a permanent fortification until the early Byzantine centuries.