The town of Chios is the capital of the island of Chios and the biggest town in it. It is located in the east coast of the island, facing the Eryrhrea peninsula on Asia Minor. Right in the same position as it has been for thousands of years, Chios gained great significance over the centuries. This was mainly due to the fact that it is an extraordinarily wealthy area and strategic point on the route connecting the Southern Aegean with the Black Sea.
Because of its status of capital and its size, it is in Chios where most of the museums and other monuments are located, and where the visitor might well spend more time when away from the beach.
The most obvious historical building is the Castle of Chios, located on the right as entering the harbour. The entrance is through the southern gate, the Porta Maggiore, over the moat surrounding the fortress. This Byzantine castle was first built in the 9th century and it was rebuilt and enlarged during the Genoese occupation in the 15th century after the wars. The emblem of the castle, three towers and an eagle, can still be seen in the well-conserved towers and battlements.
Once in, there are many things that can be visited. The tomb of Kara Alis is one of them, together with the prison, historically important because it hosted 70 governors of Chios before they were hanged in 1822 during the Turkish massacre. Also inside is the church of Saint George and, from the Turkish period, the Turkish Baths, the Kria Vrissi, and the Koules tower. Also Turkish is the marble fountain in the square in front of the castle, brought from Asia Minor, and the baroque one at Martyron Street, the "Marble Fountain of Melek Pasha".
Besides, still inside the castle, there is a renovated 15th century building that is now a permanent exhibition of mosaics, frescos, icons and woodwork, the Ioustiniani Museum. Outside the castle, the Tzami, the Turkish Mosque, has also become an exhibition hall. Nowadays, it contains Byzantine and Post-Byzantine sculptures, findings from the Stone Age, tombstones from Muslim and Arabian monuments as well as bronze and iron canons. In the front yard there are remains from ancient Temples of Chios, dating from the early - Christian to the middle - Byzantine times. Also there are parts of relieves, which were removed from Panagia Krina in 1734.
The Chios Museum is located at Mihalon Street. Among the important findings it exhibits, the inscriptions by Alexander the Great declaring the establishing of Democracy in 332 A.D. must be highlighted. Another interesting piece is the two archaic female marble statues from the temple of Apollo and the Early Christian Church at Fana.
Another interesting spot is the Koraes Library, the third in size and importance in Greece. Among the 150.000 volumes it keeps, there are valuable manuscripts describing the events of the local history, the collection of rare books of Adamantios Koreas, as well as the unique collection of documents related to Chios, owned once by Philipos Argentis. In the same building there is also an exposition of personal mementos of important Chians and the Ethnological and Traditional Museum of the Argentis Association.
But in Chios there is not only museums and exhibition halls. The center of the cultural interest is the Omirion Center of the Municipality of Chios, which was donated to the island in 1974 by Michael and Stamatia Xyla. Because of its unique facilities, it usually houses the cultural events all year long, some of them of national or international importance.
From Vounaki square, to the south, starts the shopping center along Aplotaria street. At about 250 m. on the left of Aplotaria a group of buildings forms the religious and cultural center of Chios. One of them is the Cathedral, Agioi Victores, built after 1881, with its administrative buildings next to it. The oldest High School of Chios stands opposite the Cathedral, in a classical building founded in 1792.