Chios is the fifth largest island in Greece located in the Aegean Sea. Its nickname is “The Mastic Island” because it has a strong export of mastics which is in Greece also called “The Tear of Chios”. The capital of the island is Chios city or also called Chora.
The island has also a lot of touristic attraction like the Rocketwar at Easter but also the places Nea Moni, Pirgi, Anavatos, the Cave of Olympi, Mesta and a lot more.
Vrontados, a seaside town situated among olive trees, gardens and almond trees is located east of the mountain Aipos. It has 4.500 inhabitants most of whom are excellent sailors, merchants and scientists. In the past there were Vrondadian ship owners who honored the Chian and Greek Navy with their merchant ships. Today some still keep these traditional professions up. This connection of the village with the sea is visible in the “Monument of the Missing Sailor” on the main square.
The village is also famous for being the place where Homer taught and wrote his stories. Next to the local beach there is a rock called “Homer’s Stone”. In general, Vrontados mesmerizes with its beautiful view of the sea.
The churches, which sit on opposite hillsides about 400 meters away from each other, celebrate Easter each year with the traditional Rocketwar. They are separated only by a small valley. One of the churches Agios Markos (Saint Markos) is situated a little higher. Its typical Greek blue roofs and white walls make it recognizable even from a distance. The Bizantine bell tower is the biggest of the village.
On the other side: Panagia Erithiani (Virgin Mary Erithiani). The church has a more modest vibe and a square decorated with small stones from the beach. It is shaded by orange trees, typical for the Mediterranean Sea. The church’s appearance is slightly influenced by Arabic architecture.
Agios Markos is one of the two churches where the Rocketwar takes place. However, it is not only a sanctuary for believers but also a foundation.
Until the 16th century Agios Markos belonged to the Catholic church of Genova. When the Genovese lost Chios in 1566 to the Ottoman Empire it became again part of the Orthodox church.
At the end of the 18th century the church had two main aisles and a side aisle dedicated to Saint Konstantin.
Massacre of Chios
During the massacre of Chios in the year 1822 Agios Markos was destroyed. Afterwards it was rebuilt with a new side aisle for Saint Nicolaus. On 30 September 1822 it was dedicated by the archbishop of Chios, Sophronio.
The earthquake in the year 1881 on Chios resulted in grave damages on the church.
After the reconstruction it was dedicated again on 25 April 1889.
Panagia Erithiani is one of the oldest temples of Chios from the time before the earthquake, but it is not known when they started building it. The style of the church is majestic and Gothic and it is decorated with a pebbly court.
When Chios was occupied by the Genovese Panagia Erithiani was claimed by them like many other churches.
It became Orthodox again. All the Orthodox temples in the Franconians reign were handed back to the citizens of Chios because of the efforts of the archbishop of Chios, Ignatius Neochori.
Monastery and Accommodation
Panagia Erithiani became a monastery and was used as an accommodation for ill people of the region.
Massacre of Chios
In the massacre of Chios the temple was under attack. Most of those who survived came back after 1830.
When they came back, the reconstruction of the temple started and in 1840 it was finished.