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AEGEAN ISLANDS

Chora

The first nucleus of the settlement of Chora was created after the arrival of Saint Christodoulos Latrinos of Patmos (Osios Christodoulos Latrinos) in 1808. The emperor Alexius I Comnenus ceded to him the island in its entirety along with other smaller islets. Christodoulos came along with a few monks and the artisans who built the monastery of Saint John the Theologian. They had to reside next to the walls of the monastery in order to protect themselves from pirate raids. The monastery served as an arbiter, regulating the life and social behavior of the first residents, who actually worked to cover the needs of the monastery – mainly farming, tending the cattle and manning its ships. Gradually, other settlers were added, coming from the surrounding islands and the coasts of Asia Minor. The form of the settlement was preserved almost intact until 1453, when the refugees from Constantinople created the Allotina quarter. After the fall of Chandakas (Candia) (1669), Cretan refugees created the Kritika (Cretan) quarter. (For information relating to the development of Chora until its present form, see the section of Architecture).

WALK

Starting from the Station (where buses park) take the central pathway that follows the old path of Chora-Skala and leads to the monastery of Saint John the Theologian. On your right you can see some of the mansions, such as that of Vardikos, the Valvi-Koutsanellou family, Palaiologos, and further down that of Founti, which the locals call “ton Leonton” (“of the Lions”), as well as Doriza and Nikolaidis that nowadays is a spectacular museum. “Astoivi” and “Stoa” are part of a well-known large mansion, which was built by the Malandrakis family in 1673 and faces the Agia Levia (or Lesvia) square. There you can find Thanassis’ old coffee house and Vaggelis’ tavern: it was paved in 1904 and it is the focal point of the settlement ever since.

From 1980 till the mid-90s the square was a significant meeting point. Women were dressed according to fashion and took long walks, famous foreign artists and writers frequented at Thanassis’ coffee house, while older women sat on the terraces behind the church of Agia Levia and gossiped about this strange “parade” of foreigners.

Near the square you can see the mansion of Sofouliou, built in 1522, and the Panagia ton Koimitirion (Virgin Mary of the Cemeteries). In its courtyard it houses the old primary school, which is now used as a cultural centre.

Starting from the square you can take a road that turns left and gets you to the part of the settlement that is away from the centre. Passing through the narrow alleys built to fit only a donkey carrying two baskets, the whole tour gives you the opportunity to admire the “instinctive urban planning” of the old builders. The street leads to the church of Panagia Diasozousa, passing by other even more interesting houses.

Starting from the region of Deksameni (tank) of 1960 take the route that leads to Zoodohos Pigi, where you can choose either to go to Simantiri mansion or end your walk in Loza or the City Hall square (a neo-classic building dating back to 1884, former Kamposeli residence), after passing by the big mansion of Kritikos (1700). Facing the City Hall you see the square-shaped but architecturally interesting building of Kalliga mansion.

 

Info

 

In Chora you can find several churches, such as the church of Megali Panagia (The Great Virgin Mary), the walled church of Hypapante (Candlemas) built in 1600 and the church of Panagia Diasozousa with the miracle-working icon of the Virgin Mary, built in 1599.

 

 

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