Kastro

The historic settlement of Chios Town (Chora) is the inhabited Medieval castle called Kastro. Originally the site of an ancient settlement, the castle was built by the Byzantines in the 10th century and expanded by the Genoese rulers in the 14th century. It became the Ottoman quarter of the city after they conquered the island in 1566, and there are several Ottoman structures that survive to this day. In the 1920s, the castle played host to refugees from Asia Minor during the population exchange between Turkey and Greece.

Chios Castle in Kastro, Chios, Greece

Chios Castle

Chios Castle in Kastro, Chios, Greece

Chios Castle

Chios Castle entrance in Kastro, Chios, Greece

Chios Castle entrance

There are a lot of interesting things to see within the castle walls. Once across the bridge and after walking through the main gate of the castle, you are greeted by the Giustiniani Palace directly in front and the black iron doors of a prison to the right. The Giustiniani were the Genoese rulers of Chios for about 200 years. The palace doesn’t exactly look like a palace, but there are usually exhibitions inside.

Giustiniani Palace and prison in Kastro, Chios, Greece

Giustiniani Palace and prison

The prison next door held several Chiotes during the Ottoman Massacre of Chios in 1822 before being sent to the slave markets in Cairo and Smyrna.

Prison in Kastro, Chios, Greece

Prison

Prison in Kastro, Chios, Greece

Prison

A few steps around the corner is a small square containing a few cafes and an Ottoman cemetery. In the cemetery is the grave of Admiral Kara Ali, commander of the Ottoman Navy killed by Konstantinos Kanaris during the Greek Revolution.

Square in Chios Castle in Kastro, Chios, Greece

Square in Chios Castle

Ottoman cemetery in Kastro, Chios, Greece

Ottoman cemetery

Following the road on the way to the back of the castle, you will pass two former Ottoman mosques. One of them is the Bayraklı Camii.

Bayraklı Camii in Kastro, Chios, Greece

Bayraklı Camii

The other is Eski Camii, which was once the Byzantine church of St. George. The original church was built in the 10th or 11th century. Ottoman admiral Piyale Paşa converted it into a mosque upon capture of the island. It was completely rebuilt after being destroyed in a devastating earthquake in 1881 and has since been converted into the modern Church of St. George. In the courtyard of the church, the Ottoman ablutions fountain still stands.

St. George Chuch / Eski Camii in Kastro, Chios, Greece

St. George Chuch / Eski Camii

St. George Chuch / Eski Camii in Kastro, Chios, Greece

St. George Chuch / Eski Camii

Ablutions fountain from Eski Camii in Kastro, Chios, Greece

Ablutions fountain from Eski Camii

At the back of the castle is the recently reconstructed Turkish hamam. It was in ruins for several years until it was renovated and opened as a museum in 2012.

Hamam in Kastro, Chios, Greece

Hamam

Hamam in Kastro, Chios, Greece

Hamam

The renovation was done extremely well. Inside it’s possible to see original tiles, marble slabs, bricks, basins, and some artifacts on display. They even reconstructed the toilets!

Hamam in Kastro, Chios, Greece

Hamam

Hamam in Kastro, Chios, Greece

Hamam

Hamam in Kastro, Chios, Greece

Hamam

Toilets in the hamam in Kastro, Chios, Greece

Toilets in the hamam

Wander through the streets of Kastro to admire some of the architecture. Many buildings are crumbling but others have been redone. I had a chat with a lady who lives next to the Bayraklı Camii, and she told me some great stories about life in the castle. Her parents were refugees from Asia Minor and she was born and has spent her whole life there. She said it was a really disgusting and dirty area up until a few years ago, but life was good. She misses the days when men would walk through the streets playing instruments and serenading women at their windows.

A street in the Kastro district in Kastro, Chios, Greece

A street in the Kastro district

Buildings in the Kastro district in Kastro, Chios, Greece

Buildings in the Kastro district

Buildings in the Kastro district in Kastro, Chios, Greece

Buildings in the Kastro district

Ruins in Kastro, Chios, Greece

Ruins

If you pay close attention, you might even find some hidden things like an Ottoman fountain.

Ottoman fountain in Kastro, Chios, Greece

Ottoman fountain

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