A Medieval Labyrinth: The Beautiful Village of Mesta on the Greek Island of Chios



Photo: A. Papapostolou/Greek Reporter

One of the most beautiful, remote and well-preserved villages on the island of Chios is Mesta, which combines medieval architecture with impressive natural surroundings.

The village, 35 kilometers (22 miles) from the main town of Chios, has been declared a preserved medieval monument and its appearance, reminiscent of a fortress, has remained unchanged over the centuries.

The houses were built one right next to the other, thereby creating an unbroken protective wall surrounding the village.

Photo: A. Papapostolou/Greek Reporter

The cobblestone streets are very narrow as well, creating a kind of labyrinth.

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 valuable mastic bushes which grow on the island. It lies in a small, treeless valley far from the sea.

Photo: A. Papapostolou/Greek Reporter

The gray houses have 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 gates at two or three points.

Photo: A. Papapostolou/Greek Reporter

At the center of every medieval village rises the defense tower, a form of Acropolis, where the inhabitants took refuge in the case of attack, using a movable bridge.

The people of Mesta still preserve the traditions of the fourteenth-century village.

Photo: A. Papapostolou/Greek Reporter

The village’s most important annual event takes place during the Carnival festivities, where the “Agas” trials, a satirical recreation of the trials which used to take place during the Turkish Occupation are presented. This event also takes place in other villages, such as Olympoi and Lithi.

Photo: A. Papapostolou/Greek Reporter

The village is well known for its unique wine, called “Mestousiko,” which is one of the best wines of Chios and “souma,” a drink that is produced by the distillation of figs and grapes. It is a drink for robust drinkers, but pure and with a unique flavor.