Outside of the Monastery of Agia Markella (Αγία Mαρκέλλα), there’s a popular beach, but it’s also one of the holiest places in Chios. The patron saint of the island, St. Markella, was martyred there in the 14th century. There’s a monastery in her name and the church is open to visitors. Many come to pray for the health of loved ones or to heal their own ailments.
The martyrdom site sits on a path past the beach along the cliffs. It’s a nice 15-20 minute walk. Every July 22, pilgrims from all over Chios flock to the monastery and martyrdom site to honor the saint.
Once at the site, there’s a large cross attached to a rock and a tiny chapel. It’s said that a young Markella fled from her home in nearby Volissos to the sea to escape her father, a pagan, and prayed for protection. The rock opened and she was able to hide her entire body inside except for her head. Her father decapitated her and threw her head into the sea. Holy water is said to spring from the rock, and during the annual service, the sea water boils during the entire prayer.
Near the beach there’s a taverna. The beach is popular in the summer with swimmers, but it’s important for visitors to be respectful of the sacred meaning of the area.