The history of Chios is very intense. Stravon believed that the Pelasgians were the first inhabitants. Leleges from the Near East coast, Kares from Karia and Avantes from Evia also came to the island. Around 1100 BC, the Iones arrived from Attica and brought their culture to the island.
Chios, like other islands and coastal Greek cities, soon had a large fleet and became famous among merchants. But Chios also flourished intellectually. Chios is the home of Homer and the Omirides, great rhapsodists who were inspired by Homer’s work.
Chios is the first city in the world to have a democratic state. The Great Clause was the basis for the laws written by Solon when he founded the Athenian democracy.
Chians stood against Persian imperialism but in the end the Persians occupied Chios in 493 B.C. Later Chios joined the Athenian alliance and saw many prosperous years.
Chios was on the side of the Athenians during the Peloponnesian War until the devastating defeat in Sicily. After that they sided with the Spartans, but with the signing of the peace treaty of Antalkideios, Chios renewed its alliance with the Athenians. During the reign of Alexander the Great, there was a Macedonian guard in Chios. After Alexander’s death a period of decline began for the island.
The Romans and Arabs occupied and plundered Chios several times. When the Byzantines recaptured Crete, they recognised the strategic importance of Chios. Thus the fortification of the island with a castle began in the eleventh century. Constantine Monomachos built Nea Moni on the very spot where three monks had found the image of the Virgin Mary.
The Republic of Genoa was a rising power. The Genoese soon realised the strategic position of Chios, as the Byzantines had done in the past. From 1346 when they conquered Chios and for two centuries the island flourished. The conquerors organised the trade in mastic and brought the cultivation of citrus fruits and silkworms to Chios. The Genoese resisted the Turks until 1566. The mastic trade brought some benefits to the people of Chios, but the Turks suppressed it.
The natural consequence was the great Chian contribution to the Greek revolution. An attempt to liberate Chios was made in 1822, but it ended in the blood of the rebels. The Turkish fleet burned and destroyed everything for 15 days, trying to make Chians an example for all Greek rebels. But this year is known in history for the destruction of the Turkish flagship by Kanaris, the captain of a fireboat. Kapoudan All Kara Ali and many other Turkish dignitaries are buried in the Turkish cemetery at the castle of Chios. Few people survived the Chios massacre and they tried to rebuild their town in 1832. They faced many obstacles, even natural disasters. Finally, in 1912, Chios was liberated and became part of free Greece. The Germans also left their mark on Chios during the Second World War. But the people of Chios once again proved their bravery by participating in the national resistance with all their might.